Hi BC wine folks,
It has been too long since I’ve posted anything even somewhat resembling a blog post. There are many, many reasons for that but the big one is that I was working on the book about the history of the wine industry is this province. I can say that the manuscript is now (mostly) complete and that it has been submitted to the folks at Whitecap Books.
The working title is “Valleys and Vintages: A Taste of British Columbia’s Wine History” and represents almost 2 and half years of interviews with amazing people, travels throughout the province, many photographs, and intense research at many public archives and museums. The experience has been an unforgettable one so far although it really is not over until I have the book in my hand. The process now shifts gears.
What I really hope to convey is that even though BC’s wine industry is young, there are a lot of places where history can really come alive. Standing in a loganberry patch on the Saanich Peninsula, that could very well have been the site of the very first planting of that berry in the province and certainly provided berries for the first wines ever produced in BC, was a powerful moment. Watching the sun set over the water while standing on the site where the very first commercial vineyard in BC’s interior used to be was eye-opening and powerful since I was watching almost the same view that those grapes had had 110 years earlier. Searching through documents like menus and price lists from pre-prohibition hotels and saloons, overdue account statements with a kind note to the customer handwritten and signed by J.W. Hughes, and original letters to the City of Victoria from Growers’ Wines signed by Herbert Anscomb were just some of the many documents that have thankfully be preserved in various public archives.
We are lucky that so many people from the genesis of the modern wine industry are still with us today. I am so thankful that I’ve been able to interview many of them over the past two years. They have opened their wine shops for me, shown me their wineries and vineyards, and met me at restaurants and coffee shops so that I could here their stories and recollections firsthand. I recorded as many of the conversations as I could so that I could make sure that every word, every expression, and every nuance was recorded.
Traveling to some of the places by motorcycle was also particularly thrilling since every change in temperature, every smell, and every sight was impossible to ignore. This is where the climate controlled environment of an air-conditioned car denigrates the experience of traveling through wine country. Yes, it might be a little more comfortable, perhaps a tad more convenient, and of course one cannot purchase nearly as much wine while on a motorcycle, but arriving at a new winery without having to get out of the airlock of a vehicle was a beautiful way to soak in the context of a vineyard. I could feel the slight cooling sensation as I approached a vineyard such as Emandare near Duncan because of their proximity to a lake. I could feel less humidity in the air after I left the highway and arrived at Blue Grouse. I could sense the rising humidity levels as I entered the Fraser Valley and got closer to the water in Tsawwassen. Travelling by motorcycle is a great way to stay connected with the world around you but in a way that is far more real than anything transmitted over Wi-Fi or 4G.
For those of you who might be interested in hearing about some of the research that went into this book, I will be presenting a seminar on BC wine history at Okanagan College in Penticton on May 4th, 2017. Click on the Okanagan College logo to find out more and register for the seminar. I am really looking forward to sharing with you some of the great things that I’ve found about the history of wine in BC and some of the adventures that I went on in order to find it. I hope to see you there!
I will try to post more often again about BC wine and the happenings in wine country. I am even hoping to get the podcast machine back into production as well if I can find suitable co-conspirators who are interested in talking about BC wine. Look for more action coming from Wine Country BC over the coming year. 2017 promises to be an exceptional vintage.
Cheers from wine country!