Big Reds at Big White: Here's how we celebrate wine
Big Reds at Big White is one of our most popular events of the year - and for a great reason. It's a celebration of the wines of British Columbia's Okanagan, and a celebration of the winemakers who craft them.
This year, we decided that Big Reds was too popular to run over just one night. So we turned it into a celebration to be held over two nights in the VCM, full of food, fun and - of course - wine.
If you didn't come along on Friday night, here's what you missed out on:
Here are the stories behind some of the different wineries and food venues featured at the event.
Urban Fare is a gourmet grocery store that stocks unique food items from all over the world – their deli section, for example, stocks crocodile, ostrich and other cuts of meat that are only available in their store. There’s also a restaurant located in-store, and chefs use produce from the store to produce menu items.
Urban Fare specialises in cheese, and they were showing off their cheese selection at Big Reds – including a truffle gouda which was to die for.
“Urban Fare is for people who love food,” store manager, Scott Nazaruk, said. “We work hard to offer something unique to our customers. For example, we stocked square watermelons over the summer, and just recently we were the only store in Canada to stock Frankenstein pumpkins.”
Sage Hills is a 100% organic producer of wine. It’s the smallest cropping vineyard in the Okanagan, so the quality of wines is very high – their wines are generally only available in high-end restaurants, but still at a reasonable price point.
Rick Thrussell has owned the vineyard for eight years and simply loves wine: “I started drinking wine when I was seven. My parents had it on the table and I would always try some. As I grew older, I started to appreciate it – I liked the allure of the lifestyle, the romance of the vineyards. But I was naïve! I didn’t think it was a lot of work. I thought, well, monks did this 2000 years ago, how hard can it be? It’s SUCH hard word. But I’m passionate about it, and I enjoy it, and when you can do something that you enjoy, that’s the best part of life.”
Kirsty Dale and her husband started Rollingdale Winery for a few simple reasons. They were big fans of wine, and they wanted to move to the Okanagan as they believed it was a great place to raise a family.
Now they own one of two certified organic wineries in British Columbia, a winery that produces 2000 cases per year.
“I love wine just because it’s a nice treat at the end of the day,” Kirsty explains.
Grey Mare is the oldest estate winery in British Columbia that is still family owned. They have the oldest pinot gris planted in Canada – in fact, the winery is named after the pinot gris, which has now become the number one planted grape in British Columbia. There's a fun fact to have in the back of your mind for your next dinner party.
As a label, Misconduct Wines is on the cheeky side of the wine industry. They make single vineyard microlot wines, which makes for complete transparency from vineyard to bottle. Most of all, they believe that wine is about a place.
“These grapes are grown in the best places in the Okanagan,” owner Richard da Silva says. “We’re creating a sense of a place by creating this wine.”
Asked about why he loves wine, da Silva says: “I’m always amazed by how it can be a great expression of a single piece of soil and a single moment. Wine brings together generations.”
OKANAGAN SPRING BREWERY
Okanagan Spring produces local, craft-brewed beer with a unique flavour. Their newest venture is a cloudy amber ale, which follows the latest trend in beers – a hoppy taste that’s different to traditional beer brewed.
“We were the only beer company invited to this wine event, because people simply love our beer,” Brent Wattie, sales manager, says. “In fact, we’re the official beer of Big White Ski Resort.”
Mission Hill was founded in 1951 by Anthony von Mandl. In 1994, Mission Hill won the Avery Trophy for the best chardonnay in the world, which helped to put the Okanagan wine valley on the world map.
Generally, Mission Hill is recognised as an innovative leader within the wine community. And it helps that they are located in an incredibly unique building, designed by a team of international architects, designers and craftsmen.
Olivia Cyca – sales
Ex Nihilo literally means “out of nothing”. The winery started as an old, rundown farm, and has now become a beautiful California-inspired winery in lake country. They’ll be celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2015.
“I love wine because it’s something special for every occasion,” says Cyca. “Having a bad day? Celebrating something? Whatever it is, it’s a good excuse for wine. I especially love Ex Nihilo because it’s all local. It’s right from my backyard.”
And the vendors weren't the only ones loving the wine. Here's what some of the visitors from the evening had to say...
Fiona: “I love the wine! And the cheese. And the salami.”
Etinette: “I love the atmosphere. Seeing all the local wineries to celebrate wine is just fantastic. And the sugar cookies and Christmas decorations are amazing!”
Danny: “I love the variety of wines available and the great vibe.”
Carly: “Everyone here knows so much about wine and they’re happy to share so much of their knowledge with you. I just love the atmosphere, everyone’s so happy, everyone chats to everyone.”
If you missed out on Big Reds this year, don't worry - you have another chance to celebrate the great wines of the Okanagan! Big Whites at Big White is scheduled for March, and you can book in your tickets now.