A couple enjoying wine on the Kamloops Wine Trail by Royce Sihlis photography

Sip Smart: Unveiling Healthy Secrets Behind BC Wine

BC’s wine country is a treasure trove of unique flavours and varietals, reflecting the diverse terroirs that characterize the region. From the lush vineyards of the Okanagan Valley to the crisp coastal wineries of Vancouver Island, each bottle tells a story of the land it comes from. By embracing local wines, we not only support our regional economy, but we also connect with the essence of the locale. Here lies an opportunity to learn, reflect, and enjoy the land and the people who make this possible. 

Wine has long been associated with the finer things in life, and when approached mindfully, it can be a delightful addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Research suggests that moderate wine consumption is linked to various health benefits, including improved heart health, reduced blood pressure, and relaxation of the mind. However, the key lies in moderation. 

A couple enjoying wine on the Kamloops Wine Trail by Royce Sihlis photography

















Can we align enjoying wine and attaining our health goals? 

To strike a balance between your overall nutrition objectives and savouring the flavour and experience of enjoying our local BC wines, choose wines which are not only delicious but also align with your health goals such as being lower in sugar and in calories, free from additives, and crafted with a focus on purity.  

While enjoying your wine, consider ways to maintain a sense of balance within your diet. Here are five practical tips to ensure that wine complements, rather than disrupts, your healthy lifestyle: 

  1. Portion Control: Treat wine like a condiment rather than a main course. Stick to moderate servings, typically defined as one glass (5 ounces) per day for women and up to two glasses for men. Visit TheRightAmount.ca for a helpful standard drink calculator.
  2. Hydration is Key: Alternate each glass of wine with a glass of water to stay hydrated. If you yearn for something comforting and warm during the winter months, I enjoy a cup of herbal tea. This not only helps mitigate the dehydrating effects of alcohol, slows your alcohol intake versus consuming glass after glass of wine, and promotes a sense of fullness to reduce overall caloric intake.
  3. Pair Thoughtfully: Choose food pairings that enhance the overall dining experience and slow down the pace of consumption. See below for some pairing tips during this season.
  4. Choose Quality Over Quantity: Invest in premium wines with distinct flavours rather than opting for quantity. This not only promotes mindful sipping but enhances the overall enjoyment of the experience when you can be present and thoughtful of your choice.
  5. Plan for Physical Activity: A night of eating and enjoying wine can extend for hours and does not bode well for your body or your mind. Schedule wine consumption around your physical activity routine. A post-dinner stroll or a morning yoga session can help offset the calories and contribute to overall well-being. I recommend a 10-minute walk following each meal to help get the body moving and using carbohydrates (a fuel for energy and exercise) enjoyed at the meal. Without this movement, the excess energy consumed will be stored as fuel for later use (i.e., fat) while a walk will help you feel energized rather than lethargic after eating.  

 Are there health benefits to a glass of wine? 

Alcohol abuse has clear harmful effects; however, the scientific community has extensive research in the health benefits of light to moderate alcohol consumption. There is a notable difference in the literature with regards to wine consumption versus other types of alcohol. Wine is generally consumed with a meal, sipped slowly, and includes antioxidants and polyphenols which have been shown to improve vascular health. Vascular health not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular events but there is robust evidence linking vascular health to a reduction in cognitive decline and risk of dementia. High doses of the antioxidant and polyphenol – resveratrol have been linked to improvements in longevity and heart health by promoting the dilation of blood vessels, reducing inflammation, and preventing blood clot formation. Additionally, moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with an increase in HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). The Mediterranean Diet suggests consumption of wine with a meal. When consuming wine with food, it is sipped slower (compared to other beverages), and the ethanol is absorbed slower which helps with the cleansing process of the liver. It is proposed that the presence of alcohol can enhance the bioavailability of polyphenols (antioxidants) within the foods you are consuming while reducing the glucose (sugar) availability.  This can support better blood glucose control and reduce risk of diabetes.       

Consuming small to moderate amounts of wine has been suggested to offer stress reduction benefits, contributing to its reputation as a relaxation aid. The alcohol content in wine can have a calming effect on the central nervous system, leading to a temporary decrease in stress and anxiety. Additionally, some studies suggest that certain compounds in wine, such as polyphenols, may have neuroprotective properties that potentially help alleviate stress-related symptoms. Moreover, the act of sipping wine in a mindful and social context can create a relaxing environment, promoting a sense of well-being and fostering social connections, which are known to have positive effects on mental health.  

This being said, it is crucial to emphasize moderation, healthy coping skills for stress management, and having a positive relationship with alcohol intake as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.  

TheRightAmount.ca offers excellent resources, including a Standard Drink Calculator, to assist you in making an informed personal choice on alcohol consumption.  

Is wine high in sugar and calories?   

Sugar and Wine

A good wine is made with quality grapes, and under the traditional winemaking techniques, there is minimal sugar remaining once the wine has been crafted – lucky for us, this is the case for the vast majority of BC wine.  Most table wines are considered dry wines that contain 3 – 4 grams of total carbohydrate and 0.5 – 1 gram of sugar per 5-ounce glass. This is the same amount of carbs in a quarter of a slice of bread, 2.5 tablespoons of orange juice, or 1.5 tablespoons of cooked white rice. If you are watching your sugar (and carb) intake, you may want to limit intake of these following wines as they are generally prepared in ways that influence higher sugar content 

  • Late Harvest Wines: These grapes are ripened on the vine for an extended period, leading to higher sugar concentration, due to the buildup of natural sugars as time passes. Similar to how a ripe banana (starting to brown) has much more sugar content than a green banana, a late harvest wine can have five times or more sugar compared to a dry wine with grapes picked earlier in the season.  
  • Dessert Wines: Some wine styles, such as Sauternes, Icewine, and Port, intentionally aim for higher sugar levels. In the case of dessert wines, grapes may be affected by noble rot, frozen on the vine, or the fermentation process may be stopped before all the sugars are converted to alcohol, resulting in residual sweetness. These wines may be lower in alcohol (less calories from alcohol), but they will have additional calories from higher sugar content.  
  • Off-Dry and Sweet Styles: Some wine regions around the world intentionally produce off-dry or sweet wines. This style is common in German Rieslings, Italian Moscato, and some inexpensive or mass-produced wines including California where a sweet profile may appeal to a broader consumer base. 
  • Sparkling Wines: In the production of sparkling wines (e.g., Champagne or Prosecco), an additional dosage (mixture of wine and sugar) is often added before corking to adjust the level of sweetness. These wines will have more sugar and calories compared to dry wine. The following diagram can help you compare the sweetness and added sugar in sparkling wines.
  • Bulk Wine Production: In large-scale or bulk wine production, where consistency and mass appeal are priorities, winemakers may use various techniques, including adding sugar to the grape-must (fresh pressed grape juice) before fermentation, to achieve a desired flavour profile. This is common in the production of some inexpensive or commercial wines. Look for BCVQA on the label to ensure you are selecting a wine that has met quality criteria for the varietal, region, and vintage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
















What about BC’s fruit and vegetables?

As BC has such a diverse range of climates, we are fortunate to enjoy a variety of produce throughout the year. Incorporating local fruits and vegetables when they are in season is the ticket to optimal health. Below are some tips on what to choose now during our winter and early spring months. We can even consider pairing local wines to superpower our antioxidant intake.  

Root vegetables: Carrots, potatoes, beets, rutabagas, and turnips, are not just humble ingredients; they are powerhouses of nutrition. Packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, these roots contribute to cardiovascular health by promoting lower blood pressure and supporting overall heart function. They also play a vital role in liver health, aiding in the body’s natural detoxification processes.  

Hearty greens and cruciferous vegetables: Speaking of detoxification, both leafy greens (e.g., kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens) and cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage) are brightly coloured which means they are loaded with phytonutrients with antioxidant powers. They benefit your liver and aid in cleansing.  

Squash: Winter squash varieties like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, not only paint your plate with rich orange hues but also support blood sugar metabolism and reduce inflammation.  

Allium family: Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, chives, and shallots have cardiovascular benefits and can improve blood pressure.  

Fruits: This is a great time of year for citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, clementines, and mandarins to boost your immune system and to contribute to liver health. Apples, pears, kiwi, and cranberries are excellent sources of soluble fibre and nutrients to support digestive health and improve cholesterol levels. 


















How can we double-up the antioxidant power in wine and produce?  

The range of produce we have available in BC provides ample opportunities to explore exciting vegetarian wine pairings. Pairing wine with vegetables and fruits involves considering the flavours, textures, and acidity of both the wine and the food. Here are some general suggestions for pairing the mentioned grape varieties with this season’s vegetables and fruits: 

Pinot Gris

  • Vegetables: Keep the meal light and mild with grilled zucchini and asparagus. 
  • Fruits: Apple, pear, white peach. 

Gewürztraminer and Riesling

  • Vegetables: Elevate the senses with a spicy Indian or Thai inspired eggplant, potato and squash dish or try ginger-glazed carrots.  
  • Fruits: Lychee, peach, apricot. 


  • Vegetables: Grilled or roasted corn, butternut squash, or a creamy mushroom risotto. 
  • Fruits: Apple, pear, and lemon-infused dishes. 

Pinot Noir 

  • Vegetables: Roasted mushrooms, grilled beets, or roasted red peppers. 
  • Fruits: Cherry, cranberry, and raspberry. 

Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon 

  • Vegetables: Grilled portobello mushrooms or eggplant, roasted root veg like rutabaga, parsnip, and potato, or sautéed spinach. 
  • Fruits: Blackberry, black cherry, black currant, and plum.  

Marechal Foch 

  • Vegetables: Roasted Brussel sprouts, grilled eggplant, baba ghanoush dip, or wild mushrooms 
  • Fruits: Blackberry, cherry, and plum. 


  • Vegetables: Utilize the smoky taste from the BBQ for dishes like grilled vegetables skewers, and roasted beets. 
  • Fruits: Blackberry, blueberry, and black cherry.

















Incorporating both the amazing local wines and delicious produce of BC can be both a mindful and wholesome practice that supports our community and nourishes our body. Choosing wines with a lower sugar content based on production and harvesting techniques can be a simple way to reduce caloric intake, while enjoying the flavours, and intaking the antioxidant rich nutrients. BC’s wineries and farmers are the backbone of a thriving local economy, and every sip and bite are small investments in this vibrant tapestry and shows gratitude towards the local artisans who make this sensory journey possible. Cheers to a healthier, more mindful, and without a doubt, flavourful way of life! 

By Dayna Zarn – Dayna’s nutrition philosophy focuses on self- empowerment, positive relationships with food, dietary balance, and mindful eating. These skills help clients create permanent and sustainable lifestyle changes. Dayna enjoys cooking healthy meals with simple ingredients that are delicious and quick to prepare. She loves helping clients find fun, easy, and exciting ways to prepare and enjoy the foods they love.

Website: www.daynazarn.com

Unsung Local Heroes: Selfless Stories from British Columbia’s Wildfires

They say it takes a village to raise a child. On the flip side, during times of crisis, it often takes just a few helpers to make a big difference for an entire community. That was the case this past August when the McDougall Creek Wildfire tore through West Kelowna, hopped the lake and ignited fires in Kelowna and Lake Country.

While firefighters battled the blazes, saving innumerable homes, community heroes on the ground away from the front lines aided evacuated families and their pets as best they could, by providing food and other necessities and lending a helping hand.

Wines of British Columbia called out for hero nominations and was overwhelmed by the response. We are honoured to profile three Kelowna residents who stepped up during the firestorm to help our community.

Rebecca and Lenny Schack, Little Schack Farm

What do you do when the Kelowna Farmer’s Market gets cancelled because of a wildfire, and you’ve just harvested 1,000 pounds of tomatoes? If you’re Rebecca and Lenny Schack, you organize a pop-up market and give farm-fresh produce to evacuees.

That’s what this small family with a big heart did during the McDougall Creek Wildfire. They set up a stand next to Okanagan Lifestyle Apparel downtown and donated tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and more, plus fresh bread from neighbouring Sprout Bread, to affected families.

“We had so much food that we had a tangible way to help,” says Rebecca, who farms just under an acre of land in Glenmore alongside her husband, Lenny.

The duo, who have two young boys, have been small-scale intensive farming on land that they lease for the past six years. When one crop comes out, another goes back in, and everything is done by hand. The Schacks practise regenerative farming, which focuses on soil health and reduced reliance on sprays.

They’re able to grow a staggering variety of vegetables during Kelowna’s growing season, from kale, spinach and asparagus in the spring, to peppers, broccoli and radishes in the summer. Little Schack Farm sells its produce at Kelowna’s two farmer’s markets between April and October, and also through a community supported agriculture model, where people sign up for a weekly supply of vegetables that’s curated based on what’s in season.

The week before the wildfire, the Schacks had farmed through a heat wave, getting up at 4 a.m. to hand-pick a bumper crop of tomatoes. With so much food on hand, and so many people in need, it was a no-brainer to give it away. They posted on Instagram (@littleschack): “If you’ve been evacuated and are in need of food – come down, it’s on us.”

Families came from the evacuation centre at Prospera Place for food supplies, and two wives of firefighters stopped by. The Schacks were able to fill bags of food for everyone to either take home or back to the centre. After the pop-up market, they still had hundreds of pounds of food that they dropped off at Mamas for Mamas, a charity that took the food to the Emergency Social Services (ESS) centres for evacuated families.

“The hardest part was getting people to take food, honestly,” says Rebecca. “People were finding it really hard to accept the gift.”

The community heroes also delivered their veggies to people whose houses had burned down, or who had been evacuated, including a friend whose mom had lost her home. They made up a box of sandwich fixings, with tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh garlic and fresh bread from Sprout, and were humbled when the family invited them inside.

“It felt like the most important thing we could do. Feed people. Bring people together,” says Rebecca. “This tiny role that we played… we felt honoured to be a part of it.”

They also worked their farm during the wildfire—wearing N95 masks outside in the toxic air—because the cucumbers and zucchinis needed to be harvested. Other farmers were in the same boat and reached out.

“There was this domino effect of other farmers that had all this produce and didn’t know what to do with it,” says Lenny.

So the Schacks started taking donations to the Central Okanagan Food Bank, which was able to distribute it.

The whole experience reinforced what the Schacks already knew: food is a bridge that brings people and communities together, even in times of crisis. It also helped them understand the meaning of community—helping others, and accepting help.

“That was a lesson we observed and we’ve tried to take that home with us,” Rebecca concludes.

Follow Little Schack Farm on Instagram: @littleschack.

Harmonie Basso, co-founder, Lend A Paw Pet Food Foundation

On the day the McDougall Creek Wildfire crested the ridge and began threatening homes and properties in West Kelowna, Harmonie Basso got a call from the Animal Lifeline Emergency Rescue Team (ALERT).

“How quickly can you get the pet food?” they wanted to know.

Basso is the co-founder of Lend A Paw Pet Food Foundation, an organization that feeds pets in need all over the Okanagan. In a typical month Lend A Paw supplies 15,000 meals to some 200 cats and dogs and another 100 small pets such as gerbils, birds and iguanas.

During a crisis such as a wildfire, however, the need skyrockets. It’s not just people who are evacuated from their homes and thrust into a new reality without food and shelter, but pets as well. While ALERT rescues large animals like livestock, or pets that get left behind, they rely on Lend A Paw to deliver essentials like food and pet supplies.

With the fire bearing down on Basso’s West Kelowna neighbourhood, Basso realized she needed to save the food, which was stored in a shipping container outside of her home.

“All of the volunteers came and we started loading up the food as fast as we could,” recalls Basso, an animal lover whose goal with Lend A Paw is to make sure people are able to keep their pets during hard times by supplying a “paw up” with food and supplies.

Ten volunteers loaded up their cars with food, then Basso grabbed her own animals — an Irish wolfhound and a cat — and together with her husband, evacuated their home. They picked up their son from daycare and drove to Nakusp to regroup at her in-laws’ house.

The one thing she didn’t remember to bring in the heat of the moment? Food for her own pets.

What Basso never forgot, though, was a sense of purpose. From Nakusp, she began dispatching volunteers and organizing pet food and supply deliveries to the Emergency Social Services (ESS) centres in the valley. When she returned to Kelowna three days later, she continued running pet food to those in need from a suite at Manteo Resort that had a garage.

Surprisingly, kibble wasn’t the most urgent need. Many people thought to grab the bag of dog or cat food when they fled their homes, but things like litter boxes, leashes and other supplies were completely off the radar.

“I don’t think anyone anticipated being evacuated for two or three weeks,” says Basso — including herself.

What’s remarkable is that Basso orchestrated this extraordinary pet care effort while she was evacuated from her own home. During the first few days, she didn’t even know if her house had survived the flames, but helping other evacuees and their pets was a happy distraction that helped her cope with the uncertainty, she says.

Four months later Basso is back in her house, but Lend A Paw is still helping families who lost their homes.

“We are able to give them bowls, food, beds, leashes, everything they would have lost,” says Basso. “There are also people who were financially hit pretty hard, so we’re supplying them with food.”

The 2023 fire was a terrible time for the community, but this hero chooses to see the positives: people who weathered the disaster with their pets by their sides, and a city that came together to help.

Donate to or volunteer for Lend A Paw Pet Food Foundation, or follow them on Instagram at @lendapawpetfoodfoundation.

Jamie Carpenter, community volunteer with Special Olympics Kelowna and Mamas for Mamas

“If there’s a volunteer opportunity, I’m there!”

This seems to be Kelowna resident and community hero Jamie Carpenter’s mantra. She’s a dedicated volunteer who had already donated thousands of hours of her time to causes in the city long before the McDougall Creek Wildfire swept through town.

Carpenter, who works for Interior Savings, has been the volunteer event director for Motionball Kelowna for the past seven years. The event has raised over $ 1 million for Special Olympics Kelowna, an organization that gives individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to try and succeed in a variety of sports, from skating to skiing. The funds raised go toward keeping the fees low for Special Olympics programs, helping the organization book gyms and event spaces, and enabling Special Olympics athletes to attend sporting events and tournaments.

She also coaches Special Olympics swimming and Active Start and FUNdamentals programs for kids. And, as a youth coordinator for the organization, she raises awareness about the programs and encourages more youth to get involved in the world of supported sports.

Basically, Carpenter has years of experience helping Kelowna residents who need extra support. So when the call came during the firestorm to volunteer with Mamas for Mamas, a charity that assists mothers, caregivers and families in crisis, Carpenter was all in.

“I spent my time there accepting donations, putting together donation baskets, preparing items for firefighters, just making sure that everyone in the community was taken care of,” she says.

Baskets were curated based on need and included everything from food and clothing to more specific items like diapers or feminine supplies. When an evacuee came in with her husband and toddler, wearing her spouse’s clothes, Mamas for Mamas volunteers gave her a hug and let her have whatever the family needed for the next few days.

Carpenter also helped load up supply vans for firefighters so the folks on the front lines would have Gatorade, water, fresh fruit and protein bars.

“It was super heartwarming to see that everyone in the community was being taken care of,” says Jamie.

The crisis revealed that in Kelowna, there’s no lack of people who want to help and have a passion for volunteering and making a difference.

“We’re a fairly small city, but there are so many people out there putting their best foot forward,” she says.

As for what’s next, Carpenter wants to focus on expanding the youth program within Special Olympics Kelowna.

“My plate is pretty full,” says this super volunteer, but don’t count her out for other opportunities just yet. “I don’t know how to say no.”

Harmonie Basso, Rebecca and Lenny Schack and Jamie Carpenter are just a few of the local heroes that stepped up during the McDougall Creek Wildfire. Those days in August were trying for our community, but they showed that people often put their best foot forward during times of crisis. Kelowna is stronger because of helpers like them.

Read the story of our winner of the BC Hero contest here.

By Lisa Kadane – Lisa Kadane is a travel and lifestyle journalist. She lives in Kelowna, BC with her husband, two kids and Brittany spaniel. She writes about everything from heli-skiing to travelling with her son, who has autism, in publications including AFAR, Best Health, Dreamscapes, The Toronto Star, Today’s Parent, Vacations magazine and Postmedia newspapers.

Website: https://www.lisakadane.com/

A Wine Club For Everyone. Unlocking Your VIP BC Wine Experience

Diana, who works on the sales side of the wine industry, lives in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver, and wasn’t even contemplating joining a wine club when visiting a newer winery in Oliver.

“I went for a tasting, and the service was BEYOND! Excellent terroir knowledge, (they were) passionate about the whole winemaking and farming process, I received a free facility tour and I was like SIGN me up,” she tells me.

“The team was so professional, hospitable and lovely; I was thinking ‘if I owned a winery, this is the goal’. For me, I need good wine bottom-line, and I was beyond impressed. (This particular club) is only 18 bottles a year and I can always change what the proposed box of wine is. I get three annual shipments, tasting perks when visiting, and I enjoy the flexibility of it.”

These are common refrains when I chat with people about why they belong to a wine club: it’s often based on a stellar experience during a trip, and then a convenience factor when it comes to selection, accessibility, or both.

“I committed to one winery for exclusive wines that I knew I could get only through the wine club, as I’m big fan of the winemakers’ style and have signed up to every winery he’s worked at,” shares Sebastian, a Vancouver-based business owner. “The convenience of having it delivered to my door is also a consideration. I currently subscribe to five different clubs, but they all have different styles and round out my collection.”

Those exclusives are often a big consideration, too.

Megan, a marketing manager, also wanted the perks of getting wines that are winery-exclusives, but that convenience factor was key, too.

“We often drive up to the Okanagan once a year, and this way I don’t need to stock up as much and fill my car, plus I can distribute my purchase costs throughout the year.”

I inquired about what else she’d like to see in local wine clubs; what would make her sign up for more of them.

“I like to see perks available to members like the ability to book exclusive tastings while visiting, or membership points, or discounts on purchases – as opposed to just the ability to buy the wine they have available. I also appreciate the ability to have a flexible membership where I can customize my shipments.”

“Getting access to wines that are otherwise sold out, waived tasting fees, and access to tastings that are member-only help as well,” Craig, a personal trainer, tells me regarding enticing perks. “Access to those smaller lot or small-batch wines that you just can’t get anywhere else.”

It all comes down to that initial visit to pique interest in joining a club to start with, even sometimes when it’s in your own backyard.

Amanda is a coffee roaster with a retail shop who has a home in Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.

“I wasn’t looking to join a wine club, but I found a real oasis of a winery in the Cowichan Valley and the staff are always warm, welcoming, and earnest. Initially, they were definitely the reason I wanted to support the winery, plus the club is a good value.”

For the time being, it’s the sole wine club she’s a member of, but she’s open to more.

“I think if I was introduced to an interesting wine or winery, and the club was flexible and inventive, I would bite.”

A good way for Amanda, and others, to further explore British Columbian wine clubs is to download the free Wines of BC Explorer app, available on mobile for both iphone or Android. The app is a great resource listing all local wineries with available wine clubs. Each club is different, with their own tiers, perks, and exclusives like those mentioned above. Signing up to one (or a few) is a great way to ensure your wine well never runs dry, and you get to support local in the process!

By Kurtis Kolt – Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based freelance wine consultant, writer, and competition judge. Certified by London’s Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Court of Master Sommeliers, his enthusiasm and experience have resulted in many high-profile appearances, from being the subject of a Wine Enthusiast magazine profile and appearing at New York’s James Beard House, to leading wine festival seminars and beyond. Catch him at KurtisKolt.com.

Local Farmers. Local Markets. Boutique BC Wines Pair Perfectly with Premium Produce from BC Farmers’ Markets

Farm to table, sea to table, forest to table; this is how best to eat and to live.  BC Farmers’ Markets offer us this gift of lifestyle through the age-old village mentality of nurturing communities through local healthy food. In a village, members of the local farm and food community proudly come to market day with their bounty. It is their job to grow, cook, bake, forage, fish, farm to feed with a goal to sustain their community. For the shoppers, their role in this system is to put their hard-earned money directly back into the community by purchasing the food and drink directly from the producer. This beautiful circle of life not only provides sustenance for the people but also ensures that the farmlands and animals have proper stewardship and the local economy thrives.

From land to sea, our province is lush with local products allowing us to almost 100% eat local- down to even sea salt, rice, and cooking oils, we are pretty much set! BC Farmers’ Markets offer us a shopping venue to find the most delicious and luxurious range of products year-round. Here we can truly celebrate seasonal ingredients and watch as they come to market but also find preserved products all year.

As a home cook, cooking seasonally provides the opportunity to experiment with new recipes. The three recipes that I have chosen to share below will offer you the chance to shop for the ingredients at your local farmers’ market. There you will find the very best example of fruit and vegetables in season. I get so excited about seasonal ingredients and menu planning!  There is nothing like a vine ripened heirloom tomato or a fresh picked Okanagan peach and both are featured in my Panzanella Salad recipe. The markets also provide exciting new cultural ingredients that you may not have heard of – like the Japanese eggplant that I have featured in my Filipino recipe for Tortang Talong. Most of the ingredients for these recipes can be purchased at your local market – from the ground pork and bread to the wild mushrooms you will need for the soup recipe, you can even purchase wine and flowers to set the table.

Tortang Talong

Filipino cuisine is a hot new food trend these days – and for good reason. The dishes are delicious and offer new flavours to indulge in. My husband Jay is Filipino and also an amazing cook so I have been enjoying my own culinary discovery tour in our kitchen. I have seen Japanese eggplants at the market in the past but had no idea that they were so rich and creamy. I love the smokiness that comes through from charring the skin in the Tortang Talong, it adds an amazing layer of flavour and also enhances the wine pairing. Filipino cuisine is also easier to pair with wine unlike some more spicy Asian cultures – this recipe sang with both the Peak Cellars Rosé and their new Pinot Noir/Gamay blend called Goldie Red. Other BC wine pairings I chose for this recipe include Red Horses Vineyards Rosé, Haywire Chardonnay and the Evolve Pink Effervescence Sparkling.

BC Wild Mushroom Soup

Mushroom enthusiasts go berserk when BC wild mushrooms turn up at the Farmer’s Markets. Local foragers set up shop to showcase their seasonal offerings like morels, chanterelles and other faves. This mushroom soup recipe is so easy but tastes like restaurant quality. It also works with any kind of mushroom so you can even substitute basic white buttons (if you must).

The recipe was shared with me by Zac Brown, owner and winemaker at Alderlea Vineyards on Vancouver Island for my book, The BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook. Not only an amazing winemaker, Zac is an amazing home chef and in the Cowichan Valley wild mushrooms are plentiful.  He says, “Make this recipe with fresh chanterelle mushrooms and your guests will write songs about it.” Lol Enjoy! BC wine pairings that match beautifully with this soup would be Maverick Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Sperling Natural Organic Amber Pinot Gris (orange), and Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir.

BC Tomato Peach Panzanella Salad 

I grew up on an orchard in East Kelowna. Our trees were mostly apple but my mom had a block of peaches that were her own project and oh my, were they incredible. Those were the biggest, prettiest darn peaches you ever did see.  Folks would drive all the way from Saskatchewan for a box every year (I am serious).

That original block is long gone, but I still can feel those hot summer days of my youth, my face itchy from peach fuzz and hands sticky from juice and it is a happy place. I have many favorite peach recipes to enjoy while the season is here, and our local Farmer’s Markets have every variety you could wish for.

Panzanella salad is essentially a Tuscan born chopped salad featuring ripe tomatoes and day-old bread that is reborn after gloriously soaking up the tomato juices and olive oil. Farmer’s Market heirloom tomatoes are what I dream of all year long and together with  thee peaches and fresh basil create the quintessential Okanagan summer flavour bomb. To take this salad to the next level, fry the capers until crisp in some olive oil first. Pair with O’Rourke Peak Cellars Riesling,

Winemaker’s Cut Sauvignon Blanc or Summerhill Pyramid Winery Sangiovese. Enjoy!

Visit the BC Farmers’ Markets Association website to locate regional venues to shop at across the province. Come meet farmers and learn about fresh, local, in season foods that grow throughout British Columbia. Cooking with premium produce from BC Farm Markets has never tasted so delicious!

Examples of BCAFM Vendors Jennifer Schell frequents and is a fan of

More reasons to shop at your local BC Farmer’s Markets

It’s Good for BC Farmers & Communities
By shopping at the farmers’ markets, you are directly supporting farmers and other local businesses. Every dollar goes to local growers, makers, bakers and strengthens the local economy. By purchasing direct from farmers, you are voting with your dollar to support small, local growers, and safeguarding BC’s foodlands for future generations.

It’s Better for our Environment
The fresh produce sold at BC farmers’ markets usually travels less than 300km to get to you. Compare this to the average North American meal, which travels 2,400km to get from field to plate and contains ingredients from five countries in addition to our own.

Fresh, Direct & Always in Season
BC farmers’ markets are the go-to spot for fresh food direct from local farmers, and one of the only places you can meet and talk to the people who grow your food. Find the freshest fruits and veggies, locally raised meat and eggs, artisanal cheese, preserves, honey, craft beer, wine and spirits, savoury treats, handmade artisan goods and more.

BC Farmers Market Fresh Recipes Pair Perfect With BC Boutique Wines


By Jennifer SchellJennifer Schell is a highly acclaimed, international award-winning food and wine author, photojournalist and champion of BC’s local food, wine and farm community. Jennifer’s bestselling new book The BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook published by Appetite by Random House continues the celebratory theme set in her first three cookbooks, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker, all bestsellers. Born and raised on an apple orchard in East Kelowna Jennifer and her books were the first to spotlight the amazing community of food, drink and farming community in the Okanagan.

Chef Shane Chartrand Speaks To Indigenous Peoples Day; Shares Feature Recipes. BC Wine Pairings By Indigenous Sommelier Eliana Bray

Although I have not yet personally met Chef Shane Chartrand, I have been following his culinary journey through reading his recipe book tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine, connecting on social media, and watching his videos on Youtube. He is an inspiration to our Indigenous community, and invites us all to look at our food sources and how we prepare it through different eyes. Here is our conversation.

Eliana: Canada has commemorated National Indigenous History Month every June since 2009, and June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. What does this month and day personally mean to you? What would you like people to experience from our People’s different cultures in Canada and from our Cree heritage?

Shane: It’s a really good day and month that we celebrate, but it should be a year-round celebration. It is a lifelong study to learn about our Indigenous Peoples, not to mention all the individual Nation’s food. I have learned that when you prepare food, you give prayer to the sacrifice and also make one extra dish for your Ancestors to give thanks.

Eliana: Tell us a little more about tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine – how did this project come about? How do recipe creations reflect your interests and personality?

Shane: My culinary hero is Susur Lee, a Toronto-based Canadian chef known for infusing his Hong Kong and Chinese cultural influences in his world-famous Asian-fusion cuisine. This was an eye-opener for me, I started to buy several cookbooks and realized that our Indigenous and Asian food cultures were quite similar. Having initially started in a kitchen, my first job was at a truck stop café as a dishwasher, working my way up to a short order cook. I never gave up on cooking, and eventually enrolled in culinary school at the age of 23.

This book is the biography of my life. I learned how to discover my own Indigenous roots through cuisine by talking to Elders from my own Nation and by trying to connect with other local ones. My book is my own life story, it’s designed to make you think “outside of the box” and to dream.

Eliana: Do you feel BC wines compliment the flavours of indigenous cuisine? And specifically, the progressive recipes shared in tawâw?

Shane: I have a great interest in Wines from British Columbia and have taken my Level 1 Sommelier to learn more. I have completed several times in the Gold Medal Plates and lastly won Gold for my dish “Effects of Red”, a mono-chromatic dish which I paired with the 2015 Tantalus Pinot Noir, a wine that also won the Best of Show Wine Award. I tend to choose smaller producers for their sense of place and their terroir.


Eliana: Why did you decide to share this first recipe with us? The “BC Spot Prawn with Green Yogurt Cold Soup” dish sounds delicious, and I can attest to that as I re-created it to pair with my BC Wine selections.

Shane: This is one of the recipes that did not make it into tawâw, but it’s a definite favourite. We are currently in spot prawn season, and I wanted to choose something that was very delicate in flavour and true to the ingredients. I like to name each dish and recipe I create.

Eliana: It seems we have similar palates; I had unknowingly chosen a wine pairing for this dish that you had once chosen for one of your Gold Medal Plates dishes, the Culmina Unicus, a Grüner Veltliner from Oliver in the South Okanagan. A fantastic pairing wine, so versatile depending on the ingredients and cooking techniques.


Eliana: Tell us about the technique or method taken to make this second recipe, “The Glitter of Skuna Bay.” Is this an Indigenous recipe anyone could attempt?

Shane: This was another recipe that didn’t make it into my tawâw recipe book. Anyone is able to recreate this dish. The recipes in my book are designed for household kitchens and the temperature recommendations assume that you are using a convection oven. There is an indicator for the “doneness” in each one, visual and aromatic cues. This dish was created to celebrate the West Coast cuisine, an area that I have showcased before during the Gold Medal Plates competitions.


Eliana: What are the notable ingredients in this third recipe that make it stand out? Why did you choose to share this “Squash” recipe?

Shane: I grew up on a farm in Alberta with a garden learning how to hunt and fish. I thought that was how everyone grew up. I have recently visited a vegan restaurant in Edmonton and was amazed by the dishes. Squash can be transformed in many ways, by different styles of cooking like roasting or smoking. It’s very versatile and my recipes are meant to be a guide, you can increase or decrease the ingredients to suit your palate or, in this case, the wine pairing.

Eliana: Any last anecdotes or words?

Shane:  I don’t get inspired by ingredients; I’m inspired by emotions. One of my favourite things is to walk through a hardware store. I get inspired by the tools and items I see as they can be translated to something as simple or complex as a strawberry and how it grows with the leaves and foliage. I re-imagine how things exist and create that in my culinary journey.

Locate Indigenous Chef Shane Chartrand’s Recipes | Sommelier Eliana Bray’s BC Wine Pairings HERE

By Sommelier Eliana Bray: Eliana currently resides in the Okanagan Valley as Roche Wines’ current Executive Manager. An adopted, full-status Kehewin Cree Nation member from Alberta, Eliana moved to the Okanagan in her early teens with a great love for music playing the flute, piano, guitar, singing Alto and planning to be a music therapist. A trained chef, with a wine career extending to Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Rhys Pender MW at the Mark Anthony Wine Merchants stores (now Everything Wine), she is a Certified Sommelier through the ISG (International Sommelier Guild) and WSET Certified (Level 3 of Wine & Spirits Education Trust).

A life-long learner, Eliana is completing her WSET Diploma, and aspires to bring her culinary endeavours to life again with the help of her biological sister and the creation of a food truck and culinary business in their spare time when they aren’t working in their current fields.


Biography: Indigenous Chef Shane Chartrand

Biography: Shane Chartrand, of the maskêkosak (Enoch Cree Nation), not only represents one of Canada’s leading chefs, but is also actively involved in the re-emergence of Indigenous cuisine in Canada. He has competed on television’s Chopped Canada (Season 2, episode 9), Iron Chef Canada (Season 1, episode 12), and Fridge Wars (Season Finale, 2020). He is a judge on Food Network Canada’s Wall of Chefs (Season 1). He was also featured in the award-winning documentary series Red Chef Revival. He is also the co-author—along with Jennifer Cockrall-King—of the award-winning cookbook, tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine (Ambrosia / House of Anansi, 2019).

Born Shane “St. John” Gordon, Shane was adopted into the Chartrand family when he was almost seven years old. He was taught by his Metis father and Mi’kmaw / Irish-Canadian mother how to grow and respect food on the family acreage in Central Alberta through raising livestock, hunting, and fishing. When he relocated to Edmonton to pursue culinary training, his work ethic and passion for cooking had him honing his craft and training in some of the best restaurants and hotels he could find.

Despite his accolades and achievements, Chartrand is a humble, and down-to-earth. He enjoys regularly giving back to the community. Though public speaking and media appearances did not come naturally to him at first, he is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences in order to promote understanding and respect across and within Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. He especially loves travelling to other Indigenous communities to learn from Elders and inspire Indigenous youth to pursue their dreams, being true to their identity, and finding a creative path forward through work and service to their communities.

In his downtime, Shane enjoys travelling, fishing and hunting with his father and friends.

For over a decade, he has been on a personal culinary journey to figure out what it means to be of Cree ancestry, Metis upbringing and professional chef living and working on Treaty 6 Territory.

“Dream with me,” is all he asks.

5 Ways to Find Balance Plus Still Enjoy Life

Now that the New Year is officially here (kind of scary, not going to lie), it’s all about reflecting on your goals. At least for me, anyway. I find having balance is the key to enjoyable living. If you’re looking for a bit of balance, continue reading for some of my tips.

Cooking & Eating Healthy

Eating healthy may sound like a no-brainer but it’s actually easy to get stuck in a rut with your meals. That’s why this year I want to focus on being more mindful of what I’m putting into my body. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some treats now and then. (Especially a glass of BC wine or two), but it means finding balance. To me, moderation is key. Another thing I try to be mindful of is eating local and in season as much as I can. It’s amazing what you can find right in your own backyard and eating local is so much better for you because you know where the ingredients come from. One of my favourite recipes? This delicious veggie charcuterie board which is local from BC. If I know I have dinner booked at my favourite local resto, I will eat a light lunch so I don’t feel sluggish when going for happy hour. Again, if I want a glass of wine, I will keep my sugar intake low so that I can sip guilt-free.

Moderate Drinking

I do enjoy cocktail hour every now and again, and there’s no reason not to enjoy a glass of BC wine, but I just want to balance it out. If you know you’re having a delicious pasta for dinner, and that BC Pinot Noir sounds like the perfect pairing, then maybe skip cocktails beforehand or opt for a glass of sparkling water the night after. Again, it’s all about moderation and determining how much you want to consume for the week. Also, if I know I have big weekend plans with the girls (or a trip coming up!), I will minimize my weeknight drinking. Locate a creative list of BC wine goals that offer a healthy balance, courtesy of the BC Wine Institute or Wines of British Columbia.


Exercising & Getting Active

A huge goal for me this year is to become more active. I tend to get so unmotivated with the constant rain, especially in the winter months. That’s why I’m looking to try some new local fitness classes and sweat it out. If that doesn’t sound appealing, I connect to a Youtube fitness video on my laptop and work out at home. Not to mention, walking my puppy is a great way to work out, enjoy nature and of course, bond with her. There are a variety of ways to get some exercise and every day doesn’t have to be the same. Just figure out what works for you.

Digital Detox

This may sound like a broken record because everyone is talking about digital detoxes, but its something I want to strive to be more mindful about. Because my job requires me to be plugged in all day, scheduling in a break from technology is truly the only way I know to achieve this. For instance, when I take a bath (something I want to do more of this year too, fewer showers) is when I put my phone away. There’s nothing better than soaking in bubbles, reading a good book and of course, enjoying a delicious glass of BC VQA vino, am I right?

What are your tips for living a balanced life?


  By Krystin Tysirea fashion marketing grad, has a penchant for social media and an eye for spotting trends. As such, she’s been blogging for several years at Krystin Tysire  sharing personal insights on life and style. When not glued to her phone tweeting, ‘gram- ming’ and blogging, she’s usually planning what event to attend next.



Enjoy this article? Read more BC VQA Wine advice from Krystin:


BC wine trends to look for this spring

Laura Milnes is an Okanagan based WSET certified wine writer and consultant. You can find Laura hosting wine related pop up events, and consulting with wineries throughout British Columbia with a focus on education and training. To learn more about her work, check out her Instagram page @silkandcoupe

The BC wine industry is experiencing rapid growth evidenced through a number of recent shifts. A retrospective look on 2018, coupled with feedback from winemakers and consumers, led to the following five trends we expect to see in 2019.

The utilization of data

A digital trail is being left by consumers everywhere. This is an opportunity to gather information that could predict trends, shed light on where we’ve been, and point to where we’re going.  Expanding upon this data will assist in improving the customer experience.

Even more crucial is using data to garner a better understanding of our vineyards. As a growing region, we are still considered young. Many winemakers agree they are still getting to know their vines – a lifelong process as they grow and evolve with the land. With the average vine age around 20 years old, we still have a lot to learn. Utilizing data to understand our soils, region and climate more intimately will inevitably improve the calibre of wine produced.

Standardization of regions

The standardization of regions will become the norm, as the importance of place in winemaking continues to be affirmed. Consumers will see further regions in BC awarded with geographical indicators as an acknowledgment of where the wine came from.

Where focus on varietal was once commonplace, this will slowly dissipate. Geographical styles will become revered as opposed to specific varietals – attributed with trial and error, as we learn what grows well in BC and what doesn’t.

Adapting to the consumer – a shift to the “maniacal customer experience”

Stagnant growth in tasting room visits has required wineries to reconsider their approach to the customer experience. Pricey, non-refundable fees, and lengthy VIP-like experiences have resulted in decreased profits – tactics that were once thought to explode growth. Unfortunately, this strategy has slowed the tasting experience – arising in customers visiting fewer wineries and spending less.

A shift towards a maniacal customer service approach through subscription-based models – wine clubs – will be the trend in 2019. Anticipate increased engagement and communication, beautiful ecommerce experiences and a focus on content and storytelling.

Sustainable farming

What could be dubbed as the “buzz term” of 2019, sustainable farming nods to a three-tier approach: environment, people and business. Circular, regenerative, and holistic vineyard practices make wiser use of the resources available. While many growers have been quietly farming in such a way for decades, more producers are jumping on this bandwagon to capitalize on the market share as demands from consumers for transparency increases. Most importantly, sustainable farming speaks to longevity, securing a legacy for future generations to step into.

New categories

We are rapidly moving away from categorizing wine as old or new world – terms that are quickly becoming defunct. Diversity is being celebrated more than ever. What are we? What can we be? Where are we going? Where regulations and strict rules were once the norm, these are now being questioned by younger generations, requiring wineries to adapt more than ever.

What will the future of the wine world look like? BC has the opportunity to occupy a space not being capitalized by any other regions currently.

A Holiday Guide

By Nikki Bayley – Award-winning Travel Writer, Guide Book Author, Wine, Spirits and Cocktail Journalist, Nikki writes B.C. Living’s ‘B.C. Wine 101’ column, and writes regularly for the B.C. Wine Institute about wine, culinary, and everything else that makes B.C. wine country unforgettable.

‘Write a holiday reds story!’ said the BCWI. ‘Make it fun!”

At first, I thought I’d write about delicious B.C. wines I love to glug by the fire whilst binge-watching Elf, Nightmare Before Christmas and all my other holiday favourites, but then I decided to tackle something a little trickier instead… that stubborn friend or relative who absolutely, positively will not drink anything but red wine, NO MATTER WHAT you give them to eat.

The plan? Get a bunch of wines into a real-life party food situation and see whether any B.C. red could take on the challenge of pairing with holiday snacks. I took a wildly subjective poll on Facebook to find popular favourites and came up with the following:

  • Bugles
  • Onion dip and Rip-L chips
  • Peppermint bark
  • Sausage rolls
  • Deviled eggs
  • Sugar cookies

With the help of some elves (thanks Lindsay, Michael and Ariana, and all the wineries who supplied me with wine) we put together a festive feast, brown bagged our wines to ensure totally unbiased results, and invited over a crack panel of expert tasters.

Now all we had to do is find wines which would match any of these foods and not make us gag…

Things we learned pretty fast…

  • Sugar cookies go with almost nothing.
  • I am addicted to Roz’s home-made onion dip (recipe below for enabling).
  • The more that you drink, the less weird a pairing of red wine and peppermint bark becomes.
  • Crystal’s Bacon-Whisky dip makes almost everything better.
  • I tried to take nice photos, but in classic holiday party form, everything kinda unravelled…

We worked hard. We tried everything, and so, for your drinking pleasure, here are:

15 BC Reds Which Totally Work with Pretty Much Anything You Throw at ‘Em!

Deep Roots Gamay 2016

Great with deviled eggs; manages to keep velvety and even kinda works with onion dip. “You can actually drink and enjoy this,” marveled one on the panel.

Fort Berens Estate Winery Meritage 2015

Great with sausage rolls; this meaty meritage from Lillooet winery, Fort Berens also does good service with chips and dip.

Noble Ridge Pinot Noir Reserve 2015

A bit of an all-rounder, this is a solid holiday party pairing, holding its own against deviled eggs, chips, and even the fiendishly impossible-to-pair-with-anything Bugles, and sugar cookies.

Dirty Laundry Kay Syrah 2015

Yaay – one more party pleaser wine from the party-loving folk at Dirty Laundry, their Kay Syrah pairs wonderfully with sausage rolls, eggs, dip, and it’s not bad with bark either. The dip brings out a lovely blueberry note in the syrah.

Clos du Soleil Celestiale Meritage 2014

If you like snacking on Bugles and dip, this beauty from Clos du Soleil is just the job, the crunch and salt of the chips working with the acidity of the wine, making a truly great pairing.

Tantalus Pinot Noir 2015

A surprising pairing with desserts; turns out Tantalus’s pinot is pretty great with bark, however, we all thought that it would benefit from a little more time to soften up. Note to self: try this again for Christmas 2018.

Nichol Syrah 2014

A roaring crowd pleaser, this worked wonderfully well with the eggs, and the onion dip, but went totally next level with Bugles and bacon dip, developing a gloriously black peppercorn note. SO good.

Therapy Pinot Noir 2016

Another workhorse of a wine, turns out that Therapy’s blackcurrant-y pinot goes well with sausage rolls, deviled eggs, and makes the perfect partnership with onion dip.

Moon Curser Dolcetto 2016

Bright berry and plum flavours bloomed when we paired this with onion dip and eggs. Try it with bacon and chips for a match made in heaven.

Summerhill Pyramid Baco Noir 2015 Behold! The wine that paired with absolutely everything from sugar cookies and devilled eggs to dip and sausage roll. Not many people grow Baco Noir in B.C., turns out if you want a party pleaser, it’s your grape!

Meyer Family Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

It was easy to identify the very distinctive style of winemaker Chris Carson with Meyer’s silky, juicy pinot. Easy to pick out of a line up but does it love Bugles? Yes, yes it does.

Poplar Grove Merlot 2014

A solid party companion who’ll take you through dip, sausage rolls and even wind up tasting good through sugar cookies too. Good work, guys.

TH Wines Pinot Noir 2016

Speaking of wines which love Bugles, say hello to Tyler Harlton’s pinot, which not only works well with a full compliment of snacks on your fingers, it does a killer job with bark too, totally smoothing it out with none of the ‘drinking OJ after cleaning your teeth’ vibe that most of the other wines had with peppermint chocolate.

Perseus Cabernet Franc 2014

Hopping between a classic ‘pork and cork’ pairing with sausage rolls, to a satisfying sugar cookie match too, give this full bodied lightly spiced baby from Perseus a little time to breathe before diving in.

Black Cloud Altostratus 2014

Maybe it’s the intense cherry coke nose of this yummy smooth pinot noir, but it works wonderfully with chips and onion dip.

Holiday Dip Recipes to Note

Roz’s Onion Dip

One package of dry onion soup mix. (I’ve often used Lipton, however, for the party it was Knorr I had on hand.) Mix with 16 oz sour cream and let meld together in the fridge at least 1/2 hour before serving. I added about 1/3 cup Miracle Whip because I like its tanginess and some folks use Mayo. I also like to add a few fresh chopped chives.

Crystal’s Bacon-Whisky dip

Try the slow cooker version of this dip recipe with Forty Creek Barrel Select whisky.

CHEF MEETS BC GRAPE is the Perfect Valentine’s Day Pairing: Q&A with Mijune Pak

Mijune Pak (Emcee and Judge) – Born and raised in Vancouver, Mijune is an international food personality and creator of FollowMeFoodie.com. Featured as one of “The World’s Most Extreme Foodies” in The Sunday Times and named “Must Follow” by The Social Media Awards, she joins Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada as resident judge. She is also a judge for the BC Product of the Year Award and The Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards. As the youngest and first social media influencer to be invited to join the BC Chef’s Association’s Board of Directors (April 2012 – June 2014), Mijune also had her own “Follow Me Foodie” column in the WE Vancouver newspaper. Mijune makes regular appearances on CTV Morning Live, and has appeared on Breakfast Television, CBC TV’s “Our Vancouver”, Zagat, OpenRoad Driver, BC Living, The Vancouver Sun, The Now Newspaper, Metro News and various other media outlets.

In the lead up to the Wines of British Columbia‘s Chef Meets BC Grape multi-city event series and the largest tasting of BC VQA Wine and food in Western Canada, we interview some of the most talented wine and food personalities in Western Canada.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we speak with Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada resident judge and Vancouver blog-turned-international sensation Follow Me Foodie’s Mijune Pak on her perfect Valentine’s Day wine pairing.

Wines of British Columbia: What is it about BC Wine Country that says romance?

Mijune Pak: A lot of locals have a soft spot for BC wine and not only because we want to support local, but because it’s not necessarily the “obvious choice”. We’re not Spain, Italy, or France, and we don’t try to be. We don’t produce as much as they do and we don’t have the same terroir or culture. We’re doing our own thing up here and doing it very well. We’re not only committed to the craftsmanship, but to the sustainability. We’re unique – a charming northwest secret – and that’s romantic.

“We’re unique – a charming northwest secret – and that’s romantic.”

Wines of British Columbia: What BC Wine and food/dish would be the ultimate Valentine’s Day pairing for you?

Mijune Pak: My ultimate pairing would be very specific to a recent culinary event. Chef Alex Chen at Boulevard represented BC at the Gold Medal Plates and brought home the gold. I was lucky to try his finale dish during practice runs and his seafood chowder, with caviar and bullskelp brioche paired with Sea Star Vineyard’s Ortega from the Gulf Islands is a stunner. Unfortunately, we don’t all have an Alex Chen in our kitchen, but we do have many BC wines that are bright, crisp and lovely with most seafood. During these colder months we tend to reach for reds, but this white is good year-round.

Wines of British Columbia: What are you most excited about for emceeing this year’s Chef Meets BC Grape?

Mijune Pak: It’s truly a spectacular event and I’m thrilled to be asked to emcee it again.

Sometimes you forget how many wines and wineries we have in BC and it’s impressive to see so many in one room. At last years’ events, I was introduced to some really cool boutique wineries and “next generation winemakers”, and everyone is just enthusiastic to showcase their product. Besides the wine, of course I can’t leave out the food. There is so much talent, passion and inspiration in one room it’s contagious. I also just love meeting people and hope to see a mix of new and familiar faces again this year. Please, come say hi! Since I’m emceeing, I’m hard to miss!

For a limited-time only, take advantage of the Wines of British Columbia‘s Valentine’s Day special promotion, and treat your loved one to the largest tasting of BC VQA Wines in Western Canada and small plates from the top local restaurants in Vancouver, Calgary and the Okanagan Valley.

Three outstanding Chef Meets BC Grape events in Vancouver, Calgary and the Okanagan Valley offering an exceptional experience, bringing together award-winning BC wineries and top celebrity Chefs from across Canada.

  • Exquisite wine and food pairings in Vancouver and Calgary
  • Wine seminars on popular and emerging wine topics and professional Chef demonstrations in the Okanagan Valley

“It’s truly a spectacular event”


BC VQA Wines Shine at Dine Out Vancouver Festival

By Lucas Pavan, Manager of Membership and Destination Development at Tourism Vancouver and Festival Producer of Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival.

Tourism Vancouver’s 16th annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival kicks off this Friday (January 19th) taking over the city with 17 days of culinary events, prix fixe menus at 300-plus restaurants (at $20, $30 or $40 price points), as well as “Dine and Stay” packages and special hotel rates starting at $89 CAD/night.

In addition to promoting local and regional ingredients and the city’s exceptional culinary talent, Dine Out Vancouver Festival has always been about promoting BC VQA wine which are an integral element of Vancouver’s culinary story.  The Wines of British Columbia have been a supporting partner of Dine Out Vancouver Festival since 2004. Wine enthusiasts will find plenty to love at the 2018 festival.

Festival organizers are always on the hunt for delicious ways to feature BC Wines. Dine Out’s brand-new opening gala event is a collaboration with the Wines of British Columbia called The Grand Tasting (January 19th).

This ticketed event transforms the two-level atrium of the regal 90-year old Orpheum Theatre into a culinary wonderland featuring a delicious array of restaurant tasting tables, craft breweries, and over 25 British Columbia wineries.

Our team has also curated a collection of BC VQA Wine Brunches. These four brunch-time events take place at Hart House Restaurant (January 20), Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier (January 21), Forage Restaurant (January 27), and Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar (January 28). Each event is a stand-up, mingler-style event featuring fresh, inventive cuisine, paired with a selection of BC wines.

What’s more, participating restaurants feature sommelier – suggested BC VQA wine pairings along with their prix-fix festival menus, making pairing wine with your dinner that much easier!

WATCH VIDEOFeaturing Lucas Pavan, Tourism Vancouver; Howard Soon, Chief Winemaker of Vanessa Vineyards; Tim Pawsey, celebrated Vancouver-based wine and food writer; JS Dupuis, Beverage Director at Homer St. Cafe and Bar; and Terry David Mulligan, television personality and host of Tasting Room Radio.

Some of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2018 Restaurants Offering BC VQA wine pairings include:

Shady Island Seafood Bar & Grill
Trattoria Italian Kitchen – Kits
Ciao Bella Restaurant
UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar
Cibo Trattoria
Baru Latino Restaurante
MARKET By Jean-Georges
BISTRO SAKANA Neo Japonesque Sushi & Tapas
Carthage Cafe
Harold’s Bistro & Bar
The Reef Restaurant on Main
The Reef Restaurant on The Drive
The Lobby – The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier
Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro
Tableau Bar Bistro – Loden Hotel
L’Abattoir Restaurant
Cinema Public House
Black + Blue
Fresh Restaurant & Lounge
Olive & Anchor
The Flying Pig – Olympic Village
WildTale Coastal Grill – Yaletown
Charcoal & Woodz
Fanny Bay Oyster Bar
Bistro Verde
House Special Vietnamese Restaurant
Deepwater Micro Eatery
Trattoria – Park Royal
Afghan Kitchen
Hook Seabar
Neptune Seafood Restaurant Surrey
Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant
Neptune Chinese Kitchen Coquitlam
WildTale Coastal Grill – Olympic Village

Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2018 runs from January 19 to February 4.
dineoutvancouver.com @DineOutVanFest #dovf