Wine Regions in the Lower Mainland

Most of BC’s vineyards and wine production happen in the Okanagan, but recently wine making has become increasingly popular in Langley and the surrounding areas. There are a handful of vineyards in Cloverdale, just a few blocks north of the American border, and even some as far east as Abbotsford (Mt. Lehman Vinery – free tasting Thurs, Fri and Sat 1- 5pm).

Domaine de Chaberton vines

My sister and I went wine tasting to three vineyards one sunny afternoon last week, and although that might not seem too exciting, its pretty amazing we can go wine tasting as a day’s activity from Chilliwack, and even more amazing that my sister Kristjana wanted to come with (anyone who knows Kristjana understands that inside joke).

notice her glass is empty? scandalous…

We started at Neck of the Woods vinery, which last year used to be called Glenugie, and a few years before that, Real Estate Winery, so getting directions on google maps was a bit confusing. The only wine I remember was their Chardonnay that actually smelled like petroleum… the lady was really nice though! Then we went to Domaine de Chaberton which is a long standing winery that used to be run by a French and German couple. They recently sold their winery and now the new owners run a line of their ‘less-europeany’ wines as Canoe Cove. It sits in far-south Langley where they actually experience a sub-climate to the rest of Langley, great for white grapes, so they had an excellent chardonnay and my favourite was their gewurztraminer. They age their chardonnay in french-imported oak barrels that sit in this cellar the lady described as a reverse-sauna. It smelled like one.

Township 7 Winery

We ended our day at Township 7, which is a beautiful winery nestled among horse farms and Cloverdale equestrian park, but all their vines are just show vines and I think all their grapes are grown in the Okanagan. We ended our day there with the only tasting session that wasn’t free (a mild $3) but thankfully Kristjana was a responsible enough driver to have only tasted less than a milliliter of maybe half the varieties.

American Rural Life

Village Nursery

Village Nursery

As part of the international student body here at Berkeley, I decided to sign up for a day trip offered by the International House (in collaboration with the Rotary Club) that was intended to take exchange students on visits to a handful of different farms and homes of traditional American, rural family life.

We started by going to Village Nursery, a plant farm that sold beautiful flowers and trees, and also seeds and gardening supplies. It was about an hour drive east from San Fransisco, over in the dry, hilly area called Contra Costa county, but they somehow managed to sprinkle enough water to keep acres upon acres of green houses as humid as a rainforest, with uncountable sprinklers keeping the vegetation alive.

Our next stop was at Smith Family Farm, where we stayed for one hour wondering what to do after walking through a corn maze that had only one path out and poking our heads into a recreated Indigenous Indian village comprised of one straw & mud teepee-like hut.

Then was Roddy Ranch, a working cattle farm where Jack Roddy, a retired rodeo champion, rode around in wranglers, a plaid shirt, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat on his stocky quarter horse saddled up in western, all the while chewing tobacco and spitting between sentences.

Then we visited a family run winery, with bottles of wine priced so cheap I had to wonder if they weren’t secretly franchised by Walmart. I bought a bottle of port for $7 and didn’t ask any questions.

Finally we went to an old-time family ranch that had been bought by the city and turned into a public park, preserving all the turn-of-the-century buildings on the lot and making them into a museum-like exhibit. A man dressed in ranger uniform (star badge and all) called Ranger Joe showed us around, with hints of a southern drawl in his stereotypical American accent, and we ended the day with a delicious BBQ dinner hosted by members of the Walnut Creek Rotary Club.

All in all it was a wonderful day tour, getting an intimate view on rural life in California, but still getting the satisfaction and curiosity of wondering “is this really how some families live, fulfilling these little quirky stereotypes you thought you only saw in movies? they must have known we were coming and staged this…”