Every wine is unique in some way. Some would attribute these distinctive qualities to terroir, while others would consider them to be a reflection of a winemaker’s style. Vineyard location and weather during the growing season certainly impact the grapes in many ways, but the winemaker’s attention to detail and signature techniques may also have significant effects on the final product. Is the importance of terroir overstated? Are talented winemakers undervalued? And where do vineyard managers fit into all of this?
Join us for The Grape Debate, where our panel of wine experts will debate whether great wines are grown—or made. Following the program, sip and sample your way through some of British Columbia’s finest BC VQA wines and take the opportunity to cast your vote on the debate!
Friday, January 31, 2014
7:00 – 10:00 pm
7:00 pm – The Grape Debate
8:30 pm – Wine Tasting
Vancouver Public Library
350 West Georgia Street
Cost: $38 per person
You must be 19+ to attend this event.
Sid Cross, LLB’62 – Bon Vivant
David Scholefield, BA’75 – VP Wine Strategy, Trialto Wine Group; Wine Advisor, Okanagan Crush Pad
Val Tait – Co-Owner & General Manager, Bench 1775 Winery
Kathy Malone – Winemaker, The Hillside Winery
Howard Soon, BSc’74 – Master Winemaker, Sandhill Single Vineyard Wine
Ann Sperling, BSc(Agr)’84 – Wine Grower
Space is limited. Please RSVP before Monday, January 27, 2014. Questions? Contact Berkley Weiler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-827-5831.
Sid Cross is globally respected for his extensive knowledge of wine and food, his tasting ability and his memory. He has travelled extensively in pursuit of his passion for wine and food including dining at many restaurants around the world. First as a lawyer and lately as an active wine and food media person Sid has tirelessly worked as a friend of both restaurateurs and chefs operating in BC dealing with bureaucracy and helping to improve their operations. He is Wines Committee Chair for the world organization of The International Wine & Food Society (www.iwfs.org) headquartered in London England.
He is a frequent wine judge, panelist and entertaining educator on wine and food. These include among others The Canadian Wine Awards, Lieutenant- Governor Awards For Excellence, Steamboat Springs Colorado Wine Festival, Vancouver Magazine Wine Competition, International Value Wine Awards, Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Whistler’s Cornucopia, Best of BC for the BCLDB, and the Vino Awards.
He is wine and food guru for Western Living Magazine and contributes to several other wine and food publications. Co-founder and advisor to The Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia (www.chefstablesociety.ca) he is in demand as a culinary judge including the Olympic Gold Medal Plates in Vancouver, the Canadian Culinary Championships, and Oceanwise’s BC Sustainable Seafood Chowder Competition. Sid is the only Canadian to be inducted as a Membre d’Honneur of the L’Academie du vin de Bordeaux (www.academie.vins-bordeaux.fr) and be awarded The Gourmet of the Year by The Society of Bacchus America (‘for outstanding knowledge of food and wines and for imparting this knowledge to others’).
He has been promoted by the French Government from Chevalier to Officer status in the prestigious Ordre du Merite Agricole.
Also passionate about Italy’s slow food movement and diverse wine selection he is a past director of and wine advisor to ICCBC (Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada). Sid using his legal background has recorded detailed notes of his comprehensive tasting experiences over the years in his chronological black book diaries providing one of the most extensive historical wine and food information collections of its kind in the world. He is an instrumental force in many charitable fund raising events involving wine and food.”
David Scholefield is one of Canada’s most experienced and well-travelled wine personalities. His renowned palate, sharp wit and great passion for wine have established him as a much sought-after wine speaker, teacher and judge.
David’s devotion to wine sustained him throughout his long career as senior wine buyer for the BCLDB, where he earned a global reputation for his ability to shepherd disproportionate allocations of the world’s finest wines onto the shelves of BC liquor stores.
He has judged at international wine competitions in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Chile, and Brazil. He was Chief Judge at Vancouver Magazine’s International Wine Competition from its inception until 2010, when he became Vice President of Wine Strategy at the Trialto Wine Group, attracted by the company’s maxim ‘Wines of People, Place, and Time’.
David is a passionate advocate for BC wine, and was a key player in the emergence of BC’s wine culture throughout his career at the BCLDB and his subsequent work with the British Columbia Wine Institute. As a partner in Okanagan Crush Pad, he is now directly involved in the dream of producing wine that is the purest possible expression of the Okanagan’s unique environment.
As an undergraduate, Val Tait pursued a double major degree in molecular biology and plant biochemistry. Upon graduation, she went on to work as a researcher of grape vine viruses at Pacific Agrifood Research Centre in Summerland. During this time, she discovered wine and viticulture while working on grape vines and decided to pursue viticulture studies at UC Davis.
Since that time, Val has worked as a consultant for most of the founding wineries in the Okanagan, helping them develop their vineyards and viticulture program in the pursuit of premium fine wines. In the mid 90’s, she was part of the team that developed Calliope Wines, an award-winning brand which has since been sold to Burrowing Owl. Most recently, she has been responsible for the design and development of the vineyards and viticulture program at Mission Hill, Painted Rock, and Poplar Grove.
Val is now General Manager of operations at Bench 1775 Winery where she is applying her skills and experience to close the circle from vineyard to bottle as she directs both the viticulture and enology program.
Raised in the mountains of Vermont, Kathy has called the Okanagan “home” for more than three decades. In 2008, after many years winemaking with Mission Hill Family Estate, Kathy made the move to Hillside to share in the Naramata lifestyle.
Kathy has been deeply involved in the development of the BC wine industry over the 30 years of her career. As chair of the BC Wine Grape Council’s R&D Committee she appreciates the dynamic nature of our young wine region, “Growing wine grapes in desert conditions, on the edge of climactic viability, has necessitated an acceleration in research and development that has resulted in international recognition of the work of our local research scientists. We are very proud of their achievements.”
Since her arrival at Hillside, Kathy’s understanding of the unique conditions of the Naramata Bench caused her to direct her focus to the local terroirs, “our region and vines being so young, we are recognizing terroir differences and flavor complexity in the wines more and more as the vines come “of age”. By respecting and showcasing the fruit of these vines, I want to give our wine drinkers the chance to share in the discovery and development of this special region.”
Kathy brings out the best in Hillside wines with a gentle touch and minimal intervention.
Born in 1952, Howard Soon was raised amid the 1960’s culture of Vancouver’s quintessential neighbourhood, Kitsilano. He studied Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia and Business Administration at the University of Manitoba. After five years at Labatt Brewing Company, Soon moved to the Okanagan in 1980 to begin his winemaking career. In 1997, he was handed his most prestigious assignment – Sandhill. Soon works closely with grape growers from our vineyards to handcraft the award-winning single vineyard wines with minimum intervention. “At Sandhill we appreciate that great wine begins in the soil and on the vines, with grapes that have been nurtured to balanced ripeness,” says Soon.
His determination to be at the leading edge of winemaking and workingwith the best grapes in the Okanagan have become fundamental to Sandhill’s exploratory Small Lots Program.
“Small Lots is the best of the best,” says Soon. “Every year we experiment with new techniques or plant new varieties. We also look for those individual barrels that stand out from the rest. It provides a glimpse into our winemaking future.”
Soon is one of a select group of certified wine educators in Canada and is a much sought-after speaker. He is an experienced judge of wine and has served on the panels of several major wine competitions in Canada and the US. In 1998, Soon received the Founder’s Award from the Okanagan Wine Festival, recognizing his contribution to British Columbia’s wine industry. In October, Soon was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association (BCRFA).
Most recently, Sandhill was named “Winery of the Year” at the 2009 Canadian Wine Awards, by Wine Access. Under Howard Soon’s leadership, Sandhill was the first winery to ever receive the top three awards; Red Wine of the Year, White Wine of the Year and Winery of the Year.
A Pioneer in the British Columbia Wine Industry, Soon was the first winemaker in British Columbia to:
- Receive a Gold Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde in France
- Release a series of single vineyard designated wines
- Produce a Super Tuscan blend – Sandhill Small Lots three
- Receive Red Wine of the Year, White Wine of the Year and Winery of the Year, 2009 Canadian Wine Awards, Wine Access.
Howard remains connected to UBC Vancouver by serving on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Grape and Wine Genomics Project which is supported by the Wine Research Centre at UBC. Recently he was invited on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Faculty of Land Food Systems at UBC.
Ann is not just your average ‘flying winemaker’; having great respect for viticulture and distinctive terroirs, she likes to spend a good deal of time ‘on the ground’ in the vineyards where she consults.
Since her upbringing on her family’s Okanagan Valley vineyard, and throughout an already distinguished career of winemaking and viticultural accomplishments, Ann has innately turned to the soil for the character and complexity of her wines. Long before ‘terroir’ was the buzzword of modern winemaking, it was at the centre of her artisan philosophy.
From her earliest winemaking positions in the eighties, Ann pursued hands-on and hands-off skills in areas of whole-farm, vine management, single vineyard bottlings, indigenous fermentations and non-interventionist winemaking methods. Her talents were applied to a significant string of top-end vineyard and winery projects in B.C. and Ontario, including CedarCreek Winery (through 1994), Creekside Estate Winery (through 1999), and Malivoire Wine Company (through 2004). Then, with Ann at the winemaking helm since 2005, Southbrook Vineyards became the Intervin International Wine Competition’s 2012 international Winery of the Year.
Extensive study and practical research led to her becoming Canada’s foremost authority on organic and biodynamic viticulture. A leading practitioner, she implemented Organic Certification on Malivoire’s Moira Vineyard (from 2002), and set up and transitioned Southbrook Vineyard to biodynamic viticulture and winemaking (from 2006, with Pro-Cert and Demeter certification since 2008).
Ann’s winemaking expertise is not solely vineyard-based, however, it moves across the crush pad and deep into the cellar. A long-time member of the VQA Technical Committees in, first, BC and then Ontario, she has also consulted internationally with innovative French winemaking consultation firms, Oenodev and Vivelys, and has run at the forefront of post-modernist winemaking thought.
International winemaking stints in South Africa and Argentina preceded more recent winery start-ups, including Clos du Soleil (2009) and her own Sperling Vineyards (2008) – - both in British Columbia – - as well as, with her winemaking husband, Peter Gamble, the production of Versado wine on their ancient 1920 Malbec vineyard, high in the Andes in Mendoza, Argentina.