Corcelettes Moves to the Upper Bench

Jesce and Charlie from Corcelletes

Jesce and Charlie from Corcelletes

Celebrated garagistes Corcelettes Estate Winery in the Similkameen Valley have graduated and are on their way to becoming a larger production winery with the recently announced acquisition of the Herder Winery and Vineyards. Corcelettes also has a new ownership team which will now include Charlie Baessler, his partner Jesce Walker, Charlie’s parents Urs and Barbara, and their new partners, Gord and Diane Peters, long-time friends of the Baessler family.

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Charlie Baessler

The tasting room and production is all planned to take place at the former Herder location on Upper Bench Road. Located next door to Clos du Soleil, down the road from the historic Grist Mill, and around the corner from Robin Ridge, Corcelettes will be ideally situated for wine tours and offer a spectacular views among other innovative experiences. With Clos du Soleil’s new building that is scheduled to open in 2015, that area of Upper Bench Road looks like it will become the hot spot for wineries in the Similkameen.

So, inquiring wine nerds want to know: What’s going to happen to Josephine, Herder’s iconic red blend? According to their recent press release, Jesce Walker, Co-owner & Sales and Marketing Manager explained, “Although we are in early days, we are in discussion to brand the infamous Josephine red blend and perhaps other Herder trademarks under our Corcelettes brand.”

If you’ve toured the Similkameen wineries and Keremeos and are not familiar with the Herder property, you are probably not alone. It was a small production and limited visibility on maps meant that only people who were aware of it even noticed that it was there. That will likely change for the better with Corcelettes moving in and also joining the Similkameen Wineries Association, which promotes the region as a whole through tourist maps, online campaigns, and events such as the Similkameen BBQ King Championship. In fact, Corcelettes could now be the closest winery to the BBQ King event since it is within easy staggering distance from the Grist Mill. I sense an after-party in the works…

(Actually Robin Ridge may be closer physically, but I won’t knit-pick.)

In any case, this is an exciting new development in the Similkameen winery scene and one that I will be closely following as it progresses. However it develops, put Upper Bench Road in the Similkameen on the itinerary for your next wine tour.

Urs Baessler, Barbara Baessler, Jesce Walker, Sharon Herder, Charlie Baessler

Urs Baessler, Barbara Baessler, Jesce Walker, Sharon Herder, Charlie Baessler (photo supplied)

Past articles and podcasts on the Similkameen Valley.

BBQ King 2014

BBQ King 2013

BBQ King 2012

BBQ King 2011

Similkameen Wineries Association podcast

Corcelettes Trivium 2013 podcast

 

 

Podcast 145 – It’s BBQ King Time again!

20120821-120101.jpgIt’s that time of year again! Time for the talented chef’s of the Okanagan and Similkameen to get their grills fired up down at the Grist Mill in Keremeos for the Similkameen BBQ King Championship. In my completely humble and totally unbiased opinion, this is still the best wine and culinary event of the year. It’s got wine. It’s got great food. It’s got wine. It’s got competition. It’s got wine. It’s got prizes. And there’s wine.

2013-Sim-BBQ-King-Logo-282x300Sorry, lost my train of thought there for a second.

If you have never been, it is truly a real Similkameen experience. The member wineries in the Similkameen Wineries Association are all artisanal producers and know how to throw a party like no other. Having the chef’s compete with a black box of ingredients only adds to the excitement of the evening. (Chef’s aren’t competitive, are they?) It’s a great treat to be able to get samples of the wines paired with truly creative food that you’ll never find on a restaurant menu. The food accurately shows the skills and talents of the chefs involved. It’s like watching jazz musicians improvise at the top of their game. Unbelievable.

If you’d like more recaps from previous years, check out my posts from 2012 and 2011 recaps and an interview with George Hanson and Kim Lawton from the Similkameen Wineries Association with a preview of the 2013 event.

This podcast has got interviews and sounds from the 2013 event and will give you an idea about the kinds of food and wine that will no doubt be a part of this festival.

Cheers from wine country!
~Luke

Podcast 130 – BCWine 101 The Similkameen Winery Association

The view from Seven Stones Winery south of Cawston.

20130218-203437.jpgWelcome to BC Wine 101, where I will focus in on a different wine region in each episode for anyone who is interested in learning about BC wine, including the wine bloggers who will be traveling to Penticton for the Wine Bloggers Conference coming up in June.

You can listen online here or download our podcast on iTunes.

The Similkameen Valley is beautiful, and not in an easily identifiable, normal way. There’s something about this valley that is almost other-worldly.

Looking south from the northern edge of Clos du Soleil's vineyards.

Looking south from the northern edge of Clos du Soleil’s vineyards.

I actually find it distracting to drive through it. The mountains are so shapely and imposing that I cannot take my eyes off them, in any season. This becomes a problem when I’m the only one in the car and must concentrate on keeping the wheels on the winding roads. (Except in Cawston, in the middle of the Similkameen’s vineyard area, where there is probably the longest, straightest stretch of road anywhere in BC’s interior.)

It’s difficult to really explain the place that the Similkameen Valley occupies in terms of BC’s wine industry. The terroir is not as studied as the South Okanagan and the reputation does not precede it like the Naramata Bench. Just like the wineries of the Columbia Gorge AVA from last year’s Wine Bloggers Conference, the Similkameen Valley is the little region that is often overshadowed by the more renowned neighbor and only people in-the-know understand that there is an amazing party going on there with wines that will blow you away.

The Similkameen also happens to be the home of one of my all-time favorite wine and food events – The Similkameen BBQ King Championship. I’ve recorded a podcast at each of the last two events (check out 2011 or 2012‘s posts and podcasts) and each time, the beautiful location of the historic Grist Mill heritage site, the amazing collection of local wines, and the Okanagan and Similkameen’s top chefs competing for bragging rights makes for an unbelievable event you won’t soon forget.

Even driving through the Similkameen is unforgettable. Imagine what the wines taste like from this unique place.

Joining me in this podcast are Similkameen Winery Association Chair George Hanson and Marketing Director Kim Lawton.

The Similkameen river from the patio of Forbidden Fruit Winery.

The Similkameen river from the patio of Forbidden Fruit Winery.

Wineries of the Similkameen Winery Association:

Cerelia Clos du Soleil Eau Vivre
Forbidden Fruit Orofino Robin Ridge
Rustic Roots Seven Stones Sage Bush Winery

Other Wineries in the Similkameen Valley:

St. Laszlo

Crowsnest Vineyards Herder Vineyards Little Farm Winery
Wine shop breezeway at Orofino, and winery built with straw bales.

Wine shop breezeway at Orofino, and winery built with straw bales.

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Vineyards in the Similkameen.

Barbeque-een in the Similkameen

Ok, you’ll know from my podcast last year how much I love going to this event. I go to a lot of them and I had so much fun at this particular one held at the Grist Mill near Keremeos – a historical property and camp ground that is an experience on its own. And the Similkameen Wineries Association has come of up with some amazing ways of promoting one of the most unique wine growing regions in BC.

Speaking of creativity. While the Spring and Summer Winer Festivals have their more traditional in-door events (tastings, panels, dinners, and gatherings), the Summer Festival is really starting to get wineries and their associations to think outside the wine case a little more. For me, this makes it one of the more exciting of the wine festivals and something to start planning your vacations around. I hope you’re able to check out some of these events soon.

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