There’s no shortage of things to do over the course of a Vancouver summer, and many things are made even better with a glass of something delicious in hand.
Honda Celebration of Light
One of the biggest events of the season, the Honda Celebration of Light, will have thousands flocking to beaches and balconies around English Bay on July 28, August 1, and August 4 to take in the annual international fireworks competition. If you’re one of the many who will be attending parties to see South Africa, Sweden, and South Korea—this year’s competitors—light up the sky, it seems only right to have a little sparkling on hand to enhance the festivities.
Villa Conchi Brut Selección Cava (Penedès, Spain; $16.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) is a traditional-method sparkling composed of 30 percent Xarel·lo, 30 percent Parellada, and 30 percent Macabeo, those being three of the most traditional Cava varieties, with Chardonnay making up the balance of the blend. After the second fermentation, the wine spends a minimum of 12 months in the bottle before disgorgement, resulting in a toasty character that rounds out fresh apple, pear, and citrus notes, all of them zippy and fresh. An easy match for everything from popcorn and potato chips to salads and spring rolls.
Of course, you could be one of the lucky ones to snag a seat on the patio of Cactus Club Cafe’s English Bay location. If so, it’s easy to keep with that sparkling spirit with adorable 200-millilitre bottles of Segura Viudas Cava, a similar blend and style as the aforementioned wine, at a mere 12 bucks a pop. It’ll handle pretty much anything on the menu, from the tuna-stack starter to chef Rob Feenie’s classic butternut-squash ravioli with prawns, truffle butter, pine nuts, and crispy sage.
Bard on the Beach
Another perennial summer favourite for Vancouverites, Bard on the Beach, is once again in full swing on the edge of Vanier Park in Kitsilano. The popular Shakespeare festival with jaw-dropping sunsets and mountain views is hosting occasional Wine Wednesdays: on July 11 and September 5 alongside performances of Macbeth, plus August 8 and 22 tethered to performances of As You Like It. The preshow tastings feature winemaker Karen Gillis’s Red Rooster Wines from the Okanagan Valley’s Naramata Bench, with cheese pairings provided by Les Amis du Fromage. Tickets are $25, and more information can be found at the Bard on the Beach website.
On the other side of town, perched near the banks of the Fraser River, a great chance to try what this writer considers some of the best wines in British Columbia is made all the more fantastic by the fact that it is free of charge. On June 26 and 27, the Vancouver location of Everything Wine will be presenting the wines of Vancouver Island’s Averill Creek Vineyard between 2 and 6 p.m. at its tasting bar.
Located in the Cowichan Valley, Andy and Wendy Johnston’s 16-hectare estate features a mix of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Maréchal Foch, Foch Cabernet, Cabernet Libre, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. At the tasting, although Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer will be poured, what I’m most excited for attendees to try is Averill Creek’s Pinot Noir, potentially their flagship variety.
Winemaker Daniel Dragert, who has made wine in the Okanagan Valley as well as in New Zealand, where he got his viticulture-and-enology degree, has a way with Pinot that makes for consistent quality year after year. Breezy and elegant with plums and red berry fruit, his Pinot Noirs have a buoyancy as well as a juicy character, seemingly tailor-made for local salmon on the barbecue. For more information on the tasting, as well as a glance at Everything Wine’s busy calendar of tastings and events, hop over to the Everything Wine website.
Finally, for those looking to do a little something in wine country without being too far from the city this summer, there are plenty of happenings close to home in the Fraser Valley. Backyard Vineyards has a music series with various performers every weekend to provide a soundtrack to your tasting experience, while Township 7 Vineyards and Winery hosts a Fraser Valley White Dinner on June 23, plus a handful of Romeo and Juliet “Bard in the Vineyard” performances in July.