Monday, May 22, 2017

Fort Beren's - the winery in Lillooet

This past weekend, I took advantage of the fantastic weather here in BC and went on a scooter ride with a buddy for three days. It was a fantastic ride, especially for the portion on the Duffy (Duffey) Lake Road and if you are interested, the first day is here and the second day is here on my scooter blog, Big Guy, Big Scooter.

The best part of our second day was the winery at Lillooet. Sitting in the sun, enjoying a tasty lunch while sipping on some wine, was an amazing experience. But before we were there, we were in the wine shop of Fort Beren's Estate Winery.

The tasting room and shop is absolutely gorgeous. There are many large windows set into concrete walls and they look down on the the vineyards below. It was very picturesque.

The next thing that I noticed was, unlike most wineries in the Okanagan, there wasn't a charge for the tasting. I know, at least in the Okanagan (in most cases), you get the tasting fee credited back to you if you buy some wine but, still, it was a nice thing.

The woman who did the tasting was a friendly woman who lit up when I mentioned that I was taking my WSET level 2. She said that she was from Toronto and that she used to teach WSET level 2. We had a good chat about what I was doing and her decision to come to Lillooet, of all places, to work for the winery. 


We then began the wines. 

First up was my favourite - the Pinot Gris. It was fruity and floral on the nose and had green fruits in the taste. It made me think of hot summer days on the patio - something that was realized 20 minutes later when I had a glass on the patio with my lunch.

The next two were Rieslings. The first was a dry Riesling which was good and the second was just called a Riesling. It was off dry and my motorcycle companion absolutely loved it. He is a big Riesling fan and definitely enjoyed the off dry so much that he bought a bottle. 

Next was the Rosé. It was very, very pale - almost invisible! It was made from Pinot Noir grapes but really was kind of thin - not a big fan-  it certainly would be OK for the patio but didn't have the complexity of, say, the Pinot Gris.


We then skipped over to the reds. The first was the Pinot Noir and, like the Rosé, it lacked body and complexity. I was a bit surprised as I would have thought that the climate would lend itself to great Pinot Noir but this was way too thin? flabby? watery? I was disappointed with that one.

However, their Meritage (basically a Bordeaux blend) was great! The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are from a grower in the Similkameen but the rest is from Lillooet and it was very nice! I would have bought a bottle but I was worried it would get cooked while I was on my bike! 

The last red was a Cabernet Franc which was ok but was quite fruity and didn't have quite the structure that the Meritage had. Still, there is definite potential there!

The last two were Chardonnays. I found it a bit odd that Chardonnay was near the end but I think it is their feature wine. The first was a nice, approachable Chardonnay but their second, called White Gold, was, as the kids say, killer good. It had some great oak tastes but also some delicate notes that made it an above average wine. 

Finally there was the late harvest Chardonnay but, unfortunately, due to the amount of wines already tasted combined with my dislike of overly sweet wines, I didn't really appreciate the wine all that much. I would say that if you are a sweet wine drinker, and appreciate late harvest wine, this would be a good wine to try. 

Overall, I was pretty impressed with Fort Beren's. The wine shop, sommelier, selection of wines, fantastic views, and great lunch spot all combined to make a very pleasant tasting experience. I did buy the Pinot Gris and it make it home, intact, and nicely paired with some spot prawns cooked in garlic and butter. I will have to track down where to buy the Meritage and would consider both Chardonnays at a later date. 

And I would definitely come back for another visit. I think my wife would love this place!

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