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Fort Berens Estate Winery

News

Rolf de Bruin
 
February 8, 2018 | Rolf de Bruin

PRESS RELEASE: Gold Medal Plates Mystery Wine Revealed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 7, 2018

LILLOOET, BC – The 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships, held recently in Kelowna, brought together eleven of the country’s top chefs for the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition. The competing chefs participated in a series of tough challenges, including the Mystery Wine Pairing Competition.

In the Mystery Wine Pairing Competition, Chefs were given a mystery bottle of wine and they were challenged to create a dish with local ingredients that best complemented the mystery wine in a set amount of time and with a set budget. Each chef then served this dish to 400 guests, who had the opportunity to vote on their favourite pairing of the night.

While the competing chefs and guests were held in suspense until the end of the event, the suspense finally ended when it was announced that the mystery wine was the 2016 Pinot Gris from Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet, BC.

Rolf de Bruin, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens explained, "We were delighted to have our Pinot Gris selected as the mystery wine in the Mystery Wine Pairing Competition. As the first winery in the emerging wine region of Lillooet, our wine region is still very much a mystery and a surprise to many people, so it seems fitting that the mystery wine was from Lillooet. During the event, many guests guessed that it was a Pinot Gris. Many even guessed that it was from BC. But very few guessed that it was from Lillooet.”

The suspense also ended with the announcement of the People’s Choice Award for the best food and wine pairing going to Chef Mike Robins from Sous Sol in Winnipeg. Chef Robins created a dish featuring cold smoked halibut cheek and Salt Spring mussels, juniper berry, chantrelle mushroom lobster bisque with parissienne gnocchi and cashew cream.

Rolf continued, “It was an absolute honour to have these incredible chefs from across the country try our wine and showcase their amazing culinary creations designed specifically to go along with our Pinot Gris. The competing chefs created dishes that were diverse and distinct, much like our wine. Congratulations to all of the chefs for their incredible talent in creating amazing dishes to pair with our wine. And a big congratulations to Chef Mike Robins for winning the People's Choice Award for creating the best dish to pair with our wine.”

Chef Mike Robins, thrilled with his win, explained about his winning pairing. “After tasting the mystery wine, my team and I felt we knew the varietal was Pinot Gris. We didn’t want to overcomplicate anything, so we thought about what the wine made us want to eat. Grapefruit was used in our brine to bring out the nice low acidity of the wine. We also heavily charred some green onions to make our green oil. We felt the wine was calling for a bit of char and buttery seafood, so we spent the majority of our budget on the shells to make the bisque and the halibut cheeks.” 

David Lawrason, national wine advisor for Gold Medal Plates was instrumental in choosing the mystery wine for this year’s competition. “The Pinot Gris from Fort Berens, an emerging wine region in Lillooet, BC, was a wine that was discovered when I was part of a media tour last year. The goal each year is to select a wine that will challenge chefs, guests and keep everyone guessing.”

Now that the mystery has been unveiled, wine lovers are invited to uncover the mystery for themselves.

Gold Medal Plates is the ultimate celebration of Canadian excellence in food, wine, beer, athletic achievement and entertainment.  Net proceeds from Gold Medal Plates are provided to the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which supports Olympic athletes and high performance programs. For more information, visit the Gold Medal Plates website.

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of several entrepreneurs – Heleen Pannekoek, Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, Jason Neal, John McConnell, Dan Barnholden and Patrick Downey. The eight owners of Fort Berens share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of the area and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine. With its vineyards on sage brush covered benchland along the Fraser River at the base of towering mountains, Fort Berens embraces the spirit of Lillooet. Discover Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first winery, in BC’s newest wine region and explore 150 years of pioneering spirit. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

High-resolution images from the competition can be found here.

For further information, please contact:

Kim Lawton
DogLeg Marketing & Business Solutions
250.488.0878
klawton@DogLegMarketing.ca

Time Posted: Feb 8, 2018 at 3:30 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
January 29, 2018 | Rolf de Bruin

2017 Vintage Report

The 2017 growing season started with a longer and colder than usual winter. Temperatures remained above critical levels, so we did not see significant bud damage this winter. The winter did last longer with snow and frost persisting longer than normal. Early spring was very wet with a lot of precipitation. With frost in the ground, we saw some early surface spring run-off and for the first time in many years, our dry creek bed became an actual creek.

Bud break began in late April and we were in full bud break by early-May, which is in line with a normal growing season. Just after bud break, a cooler period delayed normal shoot development. During this period, we saw some pressure from rust mite that impacted the development of some of the primary buds. This cool phase lasted until mid-May, when the weather turned dry, hot and sunny. This lag in development resulted in a lighter canopy and a slightly delayed bloom.  

Early June marked the start of a very dry and hot summer. The warmer weather helped speed up development and the vines were in full flower by early June, which is fairly normal. The heat and the sun continued throughout the summer, and we had no rain at all from June 10th through September 8th.

The hot and dry conditions in the early summer were great for grape development, but also led to major forest fires throughout the province. The Elephant Hill wildfire was the closest major fire and started south of Ashcroft on July 6th. Smoke from this fire moved into our region for about fifteen days in July. Although the summer was hot, we had no days above 37 degrees Celsius, perhaps thanks to the smoky skies that moderated some of the extreme heat spikes.

Veraison started in early August, which is normal. Fortunately, the smoke cleared in Lillooet at the onset of veraison, when the grapes become more vulnerable or susceptible to the impact of smoke. We took a number of measures in our winemaking process to reduce the risk of smoke taint. These measures included whole cluster pressing on most of our whites, limiting the time of skin contact of our whites, and whole cluster ferments and whole berry ferments on many of our reds. We have not been able to notice any smoke taint in our wines.

We did have some powdery mildew pressure from the smoke, but we were able to manage this well thanks to our spraying program.

Harvest started around the same time as usual when we harvested our Chardonnay on September 18th. Other varieties followed in short sequence, with Pinot Gris, Merlot and Pinot Noir all being harvested within two weeks from the start of the harvest. In all of our varieties, we saw strong sugar development early in September. This allowed us to pick based on phenolic development, and we were able to achieve great balance in our fruit. Harvest finished earlier than normal, after frost settled in the lower areas of the vineyard on October 13th. Riesling and Cabernet Franc were picked shortly after this event.

Overall, our yield in 2017 was down 30% compared to our average yields. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling were down 40%, Merlot and Pinot Gris were down 20%, and Cabernet Franc was down 10%.

The lower yield is likely due to a few factors. The lag phase, just after bud break, led to a slowdown in the flower formation. This lag phase also led to less productive secondary shoots replacing damaged primary shoots. This resulted in smaller bunches, with fewer berries per bunch, and smaller berries.

The lower yield led to an acceleration in sugar development and a relatively shorter harvest. In some instances, we had the opportunity to let the fruit hang a little longer for the phenolics to develop. The result was ripe and expressive fruit.

The flip side of a low yield is that generally the quality is very high. With fewer grapes on the vines, the flavours are concentrated in fewer berries and become more intense. This means that we have high expectations for the 2017 vintage and expect rich and concentrated flavours.

In a lot of ways, this was one of our most challenging vintages. After a few abundant vintages, we are now dealing with a smaller vintage. As farmers, we have to deal with the impacts of fluctuations in seasons and a variety of other new challenges.

Every year, we continue to learn. Sometimes our learning is unplanned and chaotic, but we try to lay out a number of experiments each year. These experiments are aimed at trying to understand which vineyard and winemaking practices are best suited to our local terroir. In 2017, we embarked on the following trials:

  • Pinot Noir: For the first time, the Pinot Noir was 100% whole cluster fermented and 100% spontaneous ferment. In previous years, we experimented with whole cluster ferments on smaller lots. This process doesn’t break up the berry as much, and results in a wine that is more fruit forward. We also learned in our previous vintages that the wild yeasts in our area work well for fermenting Pinot Noir. The native yeasts add complexity to the wines. The 2017 Pinot Noir features 100% estate grown fruit using two clones of Pinot Noir grapes (828 and 667). These two clones created the best fruit and therefore the highest quality Pinot Noir. It is beautiful complex and balanced.
     
  • Merlot: To increase the concentration of flavours in our Merlot, our winemaker Danny Hattingh and vineyard manager Megan De Villiers worked together from the start of the season to decrease the berry size, through a number of vineyard practices, including deficit irrigation. Smaller berries have a lower juice to skin ratio, which delivers more concentrated flavours.
     
  • Natural Ferments: The higher sugar levels in this vintage have the potential to create higher alcohol in our wines. We used spontaneous ferments in our Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot to reduce the alcohol percentage and to add complexity and terroir to the wines. Typically, wild yeasts are not as effective in transforming sugar into alcohol as the commercial yeasts.

In 2017, we also saw further developments in the Lillooet-Lytton grape-growing region. Our 2017 vintage features a small amount of Chardonnay grapes from Fraser Bench Vineyard in Lillooet and some Pinot Noir grapes from Frugal Vineyard near Lytton. Starting in 2018, we anticipate receiving Pinot Gris grapes from the Winch Spur Vineyard in Lytton.

 

Time Posted: Jan 29, 2018 at 5:00 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
January 23, 2017 | Rolf de Bruin

2016 Vintage Report

2016 Vintage Overview

As we reflect back, we are very happy with our 2016 vintage. The season started very early with some consistently warm days, lots of rain, followed by warm, dry weather. The longer season and lots of rain at the right time helped produce a bigger crop than we saw in 2015. The summer was hot, without excessive heat spikes, which allowed the heavy crop of grapes time to ripen beautifully, resulting in nicely developed phenolics and good acidity.

Our 2016 whites, which will be released in spring 2017, are fruit-forward, complex and aromatic. Our estate-grown Pinot Gris is by far the best we’ve ever produced. For the first time, we’ll have our traditional, slightly off-dry Riesling and we’re excited to introduce a new drier-style Riesling. Our 2016 reds, which will be released in the fall of 2018, will be beautifully balanced. They will be bigger with lots of fruit characteristics, while remaining very approachable and very drinkable. We’re very pleased with our Pinot Noir and anticipate it being a real highlight of this vintage. We’re also thrilled with how the barrel fractions are tasting for our 2016 Red Gold.

With the great growth of grapes, new techniques in the cellar and the expertise from our hardworking vineyard and winemaking teams, we are expecting some of our best wines from this vintage. Not only are we proud of the quality of this vintage, we are fortunate that the heavier crops means we’ll have more wine available to keep your wine cellars full! 2016 is going to be a fabulous vintage and we can’t wait to share it with you.
 



2016 Vintage Report – An In-Depth Review

Our 2016 vintage had an early start with a consistently warm March, April and May in Lillooet. This led to a strong start after budbreak where the canopy developed quickly. Most of the early stages of development after budbreak were 2-3 weeks ahead of normal.

June & early July were hot and dry. From mid-July onward, we had a number of rain events followed by warm, dry weather. The increased precipitation lead to a higher vigor in canopy than normal and continued growth of our cover crop. Normally, vigor is reduced starting mid-July and the cover crop dries up. While the unusually green vineyard was a beautiful sight, it did demand more attention to keep the canopy in check. With the warmer days and the steady wind, disease pressure was not higher than normal. The summer did not have any excessive heat spikes, like we normally see, which meant that the vines did not shut down due to heat shock at any point during the summer.

Sugar development after veraison was very strong. Temperatures decreased in September during a cooler and cloudy week, which allowed the phenolics to develop without the sugars increasing a lot. Harvest started on September 14th which is consistent with prior years. The quality of the grapes ranged from very good to outstanding, with a great balance in the fruit.

The 2016 vintage was similar to our vintage in 2014, so we had a better sense of how to gauge what was happening in the vineyard and how to manage it better.

What happens in the vineyard is only part of the equation. In the cellar, we applied some new techniques based on our experimental trials from prior years. We continue to create experiments in the cellar that help us learn which techniques really work well with grapes from our Lillooet terroir.

We had a great winemaking team for our 2016 vintage. It was not uncommon for them to work 12-18 hour days. To make great wine, we need to have great people on our team. We were very thankful for these great people that set 2am wake-up calls to do pump-overs and punch-downs. It’s this commitment to excellence that helped us create a vintage we are very proud of.

Highlights from our 2016 Vintage:

  • Our estate 2016 Pinot Gris is by far the best we have ever produced. Our winemaker Danny used a different type of yeast to bring more fruit-forwardness to the Pinot Gris and some increased aromatics. A small fraction was barrel fermented for about a month in new American Oak barrels. This gives the wine more layers. It is more fruit forward with more intense aromatics.
     
  • Learning from some experiments done with our 2015 Chardonnay, almost 25% of our 2016 Chardonnay was naturally fermented. This spontaneous fermentation uses natural yeast in the vineyard, in the air and in the tanks rather than commercial yeast. This natural fermentation increased the length of the fermentation time, which resulted in a broader flavour profile with more depth and complexity in the wine.
     
  • Our 2016 White Gold features Chardonnay grapes aged in 60% new oak barrels, resulting in tropical fruit notes that dominate the wine. So even those that don’t like oak-aged Chardonnay will be in for a pleasant treat.
     
  • Our 2016 Pinot Noir grapes did exceptionally well in the vineyard. Because we didn’t get the scorching heat in the summer, the flavour development was really great. All of our Pinot Noir was made with natural, spontaneous fermentation. In addition, about 25-30% of the grapes were whole-cluster fermented. This resulted in more layers of flavours and more depth to the wine.
     
  • Our 2016 reds will be beautifully balanced. Because they are not too light or too full, they will be very approachable, very drinkable, with lots of fruit characteristics.
     
  • The fractions of our 2016 Red Gold are barrel fermenting at this point. In mid-2017, we will begin the blending process. We are committed to a good aging program with our Red Gold, so they will be bottled and bottled aged for another year before release.

     
Time Posted: Jan 23, 2017 at 9:56 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
October 15, 2016 | Rolf de Bruin

Go for the Double Gold, an Exclusive Offer!

In our last newsletter, we introduced the upcoming launch of our new Red Gold. We are thrilled about this ultra-premium red wine. A wine with exceptional quality, worthy of the Red Gold designation.

Our 2014 Red Gold is an exceptional blend. It combines our very best estate Cabernet Franc, estate Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon from Roger Pires’ vineyard in Osoyoos and Merlot from Blind Creek vineyard in the Similkameen. With just 100 cases produced, the Red Gold is an iconic and collectible wine. To read more about our Red Gold, click here.

Today, we are absolutely delighted to offer our Discovery Club members an exclusive opportunity to pre-order our new 2014 Red Gold before the official launch in November during Cornucopia.

We have a number of different options for you if you wish to purchase the Red Gold, including a Limited Edition Magnum and the introduction of our new Double Gold club.

Red Gold Bottles:

The single bottle price of the 2014 Red Gold is $44.99. The single bottle price forDiscovery Club members is $38.24.

For your convenience, we have created a few options for your consideration:

3 bottles: Regular price $134.97; Discovery Club members $114.72
6 bottles: Regular price $269.94; Discovery Club members $229.44
12 bottles: Regular price $539.88; Discovery Club members $458.88
3 bottles of 2014 Red Gold and 3 bottles of 2014 White Gold: Regular price $212.94; Discovery Club members $180.99

* Limit 12 bottles per Discovery Club member
* Price excludes applicable tax, deposit and shipping

If you prefer a custom order that includes other wines, please let us know.

To pre-order, simply email discoveryclub@fortberens.ca to say what you would like to order, whether you will pick it up at the winery or if you would like us to ship it to you, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Red Gold Magnums:

To commemorate the launch of the Red Gold, we approached William Matthews, an amazing local fine artist, to create a label for a limited edition of 48 Magnums.

William, an impressionist landscape painter with a spiritual leaning into surrealism, created a stunning hand painted oil painting, which reflects the landscape as seen from our winery and his home-studio. William individually hand-crafted 48 labels for these 1500ml magnums as one-of-a-kind pieces of art. While each label represents the same landscape view, William hand painted each label to reflect the constantly changing colours of the Fraser Canyon. William explained, “You never get tired of the view with the constant changes. It’s flowing. It’s rich.” His Red Gold art reflects this. “The clouds are a symbol of the smoothness of wine. The shapes and lines are similar in every one, but the colour and mood change in every unique piece of art,” William continued.

Each magnum is in every way a magnificent work of art designed to match the art of the winemaking involved in crafting the Red Gold. The 6” x 4” oil painting is created on canvas that can be removed from the bottle. You will be able to frame and continue to enjoy the art long after enjoying the Red Gold.

Each painting is numbered and signed by the artist. The magnum is packaged in a beautiful cedar wooden collector’s box and is priced at $399. The price for Discovery Club members is $339.15.

* Limit 1 Magnum per Discovery Club member
* Price excludes applicable tax, deposit and shipping

To pre-order, simply email discoveryclub@fortberens.ca to say you would like to order a Red Gold magnum, whether you will pick it up at the winery or if you would like us to ship it to you, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Join the Double Gold Wine Club:

We have created a new Double Gold Wine Club. Whether you are a member of our Red, White, Mixed or VIP Club today, you can simply add on the Double Gold Wine Club to your existing wine club membership. Double Gold Wine Club members will receive one shipment of our Gold level wines each November. This doesn’t change anything with regards to your Red, White, Mixed or VIP Club membership.

Double Gold Wine Club members will receive 3 bottles of 2014 Red Gold and 3 bottles of 2014 White Gold: Regular price $212.94; Discovery Club members $180.99

* Price excludes applicable tax, deposit and shipping

To join our new Double Gold Wine Club, simply email discoveryclub@fortberens.ca to say you would like to join the Double Gold Wine Club and let us know whether you will pick it up at the winery or if you would like us to ship it to you, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Timeline:

Oct. 12 - Discovery Club members can start pre-ordering Red Gold
Nov. 9 - Credit cards processed
Nov. 10 - Private Official Media Launch in Whistler
Nov. 11 - Winery dinner at the Four Seasons
Nov. 11 - Public tasting of Red Gold at Cellar Door
Nov. 13 - Public seminar dedicated to Red Gold
Nov. 14 – Red Gold orders will be shipped (or ready for pick-up at the winery)

We look forward to hearing your feedback on our new Red Gold.

Time Posted: Oct 15, 2016 at 3:13 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
October 11, 2016 | Rolf de Bruin

Announcing our Red Gold 2014

Five years ago, we released our White Gold. The White Gold was created in 2010 when two barrels of Chardonnay tasted so magnificent that we wanted to share this exceptional quality with you rather than adding it to our Chardonnay blend. In 2014, while barrel sampling our red wines, we discovered a few barrels that were of similar exceptional quality worthy of the Red Gold designation. And today, we are thrilled to announce that our first ever Red Gold will be coming this fall.

The Red Gold 2014 is the product of the exceptional care from three grape growers and our winemaker. It is a blend of estate Cabernet Franc, estate Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon from Roger Pires’ vineyard in Osoyoos and Merlot from Blind Creek vineyard in the Similkameen. These three sites produce excellent fruit and the 2014 vintage was among the best in a long time.

In the fall of 2014 as the grapes came in, our winemaker, Danny Hattingh, was hugely impressed with the quality of the fruit. Danny was given free rein to foster the quality of this fruit and to experiment to express the true potential of the fruit. His drive to experiment, to do things differently, to learn and to embrace new approaches led to truly unique wine that combines the very best of three excellent growing regions. 

With just 100 cases produced, the Red Gold is an iconic and collectible wine. In its youth, it was already awarded two Gold Medals, one at the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the other at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition. In London, UK at the International Wine & Spirits Competition it won a silver medal.

The Red Gold will be launched at Cornucopia in Whistler from November 10-21, 2016. The Red Gold will be launched at a private Media & Trade event at the Audian Museum on Thursday November 10th. The Red Gold will be served at a winemaker’s dinner at the Four Seasons and at Cellar Door, both on Friday, November 11th. There is a special public seminar dedicated to Red Gold on Sunday November 13th.

To commemorate the launch of the Red Gold, we approached William Matthews, an amazing local fine art painter, to create a label for a limited edition Magnum. The hand painted oil canvas on each bottle represents the unique landscape as seen from the winery. The canvas, which can be removed and framed, can be a silent testimony to a time where we celebrate the art of winemaking. This limited edition, of only 48 Magnums, is in every way a magnificent work of art designed to match the art of the winemaking involved in crafting the Red Gold.

Time Posted: Oct 11, 2016 at 11:16 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
July 14, 2016 | Rolf de Bruin

PRESS RELEASE: Fort Berens Estate Winery A Golden Lineup

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 14, 2016

LILLOOET, BC – Things have turned golden for Lillooet-based Fort Berens Estate Winery. With the recent release of the results from the 2016 San Francisco International Wine Competition, all of the signature wines from Fort Berens have now been awarded gold medals.

Rolf de Bruin, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens explained, “With the announcement of these most recent awards, all of our signature wines, including our Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Meritage, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir have won a gold medal from a major regional, national or international wine competition.”

Growing grapes and producing award-winning wines have caught many by surprise in a region better known for cowboys and gold mining. Rolf continued, “While it is still a surprise to many, we’ve known for some time that we can grow grapes in Lillooet. We’ve been growing grapes in our vineyard here in Lillooet since 2009 and our viticulture and winemaking teams are passionately handcrafting wines that reflect our Lillooet terroir. In 2014, we won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC Wines for our estate-grown Riesling, so we knew the area was well suited for Riesling. Winning a gold medal for all of our signature wines shows that all of the varieties of grapes we grow in Lillooet are performing well and that we can handcraft gold medal wines of distinction that reflect the unique characteristics of our Lillooet terroir.”

While early pioneers to Lillooet panned for gold, today’s new batch of pioneers have re-discovered the bounty of the land in Lillooet in the discovery of treasures for the new millennium. Rolf explained, “While we know that the alpine breezes, hot days and lingering summer sunlight in Lillooet are perfect for growing premium grapes, it’s also really exciting to see a new crop of pioneers that are discovering other bounties of our rich land with the growth of local and organic produce, beef and artisan products including bread. At The Kitchen at Fort Berens, our winery restaurant that overlooks our 20-acre vineyard and the majestic mountain range, all of the richness of these bounties come together with farm-to-table meals that showcase the local food paired with our wines.”

Look for the award-winning wines of Fort Berens at their winery, at government and private liquor stores and restaurants throughout BC and through their Discovery Club Wine Club. The Kitchen at Fort Berens is now open daily for the season for lunch, Friday night tapas, Saturday night dinners and a series of special events.

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of several entrepreneurs – Heleen Pannekoek, Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, Jason Neal, John McConnell, Dan Barnholden and Patrick Downey. The eight owners of Fort Berens share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of the area and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine. With its vineyards on sage brush covered benchland along the Fraser River at the base of towering mountains, Fort Berens embraces the spirit of Lillooet. Discover Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first winery, in BC’s newest wine region and explore 150 years of pioneering spirit. For more information, call1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

High resolution images and technical data sheets are available at http://www.fortberens.ca/About/Trade--Media. For a list of the gold-medal awards, see below.

For further information, please contact:

Kim Lawton
DogLeg Marketing & Business Solutions
250.488.0878
klawton@DogLegMarketing.ca

The Fort Berens Gold Medal Awards Lineup

Riesling 2015:

  • DOUBLE GOLD – San Francisco International Wine Competition 2016

Pinot Gris 2015:

  • GOLD – San Francisco International Wine Competition 2016

Chardonnay 2014:

  • GOLD – British Columbia Best of Varietal Awards 2016

Meritage 2013:

  • GOLD (90 Points) – Los Angeles International Wine Competition 2015

Cabernet Franc 2013:

  • GOLD (90 Points) – Los Angeles International Wine Competition 2015
  • GOLD & Best in Class & Chairman’s Award – Riverside International Wine Competition 2015 (CA)

Pinot Noir 2013:

  • PLATINUM – Wine Press Northwest 16th Annual Platinum Judging 2016
  • GOLD – Pacific Rim Wine Competition 2015
  • Top 25 – Cornucopia 2015

 

 

 

 

Time Posted: Jul 14, 2016 at 1:39 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
February 5, 2016 | Rolf de Bruin

PRESS RELEASE: Fort Berens Brings Home Two Prestigious Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 3, 2015

LILLOOET, BC – The team at Fort Berens Estate Winery has won a variety of prestigious awards for their winemaking in recent years. After the recent Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association’s annual gala, they now have two additional awards to add to their honour wall. Fort Berens received two of the three prestigious awards handed out at the annual awards gala, namely the 2015 “Digital Marketing Excellence” Award and the 2015 “Outside the Box” Award.

Rolf de Bruin, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens explained, “We were deeply honoured to find out that we had been nominated for two awards through our regional tourism association, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association. When we found out at the gala that we won both awards, we were speechless. For our entire team, this is an incredible honour. Every person on our team contributes to our overall success, and on behalf of all of us, we say a special congratulations to our marketing and wine club team members including Kim Lawton, Victoria Harding and Marian De Gier and to all of our hospitality team members.”

Amy Thacker, CEO at the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, who presented the awards, had this to say, “We are pleased to present our partners at Fort Berens Estate Winery with both the 2015 Outside the Box and 2015 Digital Marketing Excellence awards. The team at Fort Berens consistently shines across their digital networks sharing content about not only the winery but the community of Lillooet and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Region. Their innovative Winemaker’s Bootcamp series is an example of experiential tourism that is leading the change in the travel industry.”

Kim Lawton, who helps with marketing and communications at Fort Berens, accepted the awards on behalf of the team at the annual gala. She explained, “We have worked very hard to build the value of the Fort Berens brand. It is our goal that wine lovers seek out the award winning wines from Fort Berens on the shelf at liquor stores, in restaurants and through our Discovery Club Wine Club. In everything that we do, from our social media to our website to our contests and newsletters, we aim to bring awareness and visitors not only to Fort Berens, but also to the beautiful Lillooet area and the entire Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region.”

Rolf continued, “We are very strategic in our marketing goals and in the benefits we provide to our VIP wine club members. We designed the winery, the approach to our Discovery Club Wine Club, and our Bootcamp series in such a way that we could share with visitors our passion for making great wines and our passion for Lillooet. It’s important to us that our guests are left feeling like they are part of the discovery with us. We are thankful that wine lovers recognize and appreciate all that we put into the quality of our wines, our brand and the overall experience that our guests have with us. We are honoured to be recognized for that with these awards and we are grateful that the people in Lillooet, Whistler and throughout the region have pride in recommending us as their local winery.”

In addition to these two awards, Fort Berens also recently received a Gold Medal, Best in Class and Chairman’s Award for the 2013 Cabernet Franc at the 2015 Riverside International Wine Competition, a Gold Medal at the 2015 Los Angeles International Wine Competition for the 2013 Cabernet Franc, a Gold Medal for their 2013 Meritage at the 2015 Los Angeles International Wine Competition and their 2013 Pinot Noir was named in the Top 25 Wines at Whistler’s 2015 Cornucopia International Wine Competition.

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of several entrepreneurs – Heleen Pannekoek, Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, Jason Neal, John McConnell, Dan Barnholden and Patrick Downey. The eight owners of Fort Berens share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of the area and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine. With its vineyards on sage brush covered benchland along the Fraser River at the base of towering mountains, Fort Berens embraces the spirit of Lillooet.

Alpine breezes, lingering summer sunlight and moderate winters provide a unique terroir ideal for growing premium grapes. Discover Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first winery, in BC’s newest wine region and explore 150 years of pioneering spirit. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

For further information, please contact:

Kim Lawton
DogLeg Marketing & Business Solutions
250.488.0878
klawton@DogLegMarketing.ca

Time Posted: Feb 5, 2016 at 3:51 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
March 30, 2015 | Rolf de Bruin

100% Lillooet at Fort Berens Estate Winery

March 30, 2015

For immediate release

LILLOOET, BC – This week, Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet is releasing their 2015 spring line-up which includes their 2014 Pinot Gris, 2014 Riesling, 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé, 2014 23 Camels White and 2013 White Gold. Rolf de Bruin, founder and one of the owners of Fort Berens explained, “We are thrilled to announce that for the first time in our history, every single wine in our spring release is 100% Lillooet: 100% estate-grown, 100% produced on our own onsite facility and 100% bottled in Lillooet.”

Rolf continued, “These five new releases join our other 100% estate-grown whites, including our 2013 Chardonnay and our 2013 Late Harvest Riesling. These will be followed later this spring with the release of our 2014 Chardonnay and 2014 Late Harvest Riesling, which are also 100% Lillooet. We can’t even begin to express how much pride we feel now that our entire white wine list is 100% Lillooet.”

To commemorate this new milestone, Fort Berens will be running a 100% Lillooet contest from April 17th through to May 31st. Rolf explained, “When we realized that all of our white wines would be 100% Lillooet, we decided this milestone deserved to be celebrated! We will be giving away an exclusive Fort Berens prize package valued at over $1000 plus weekly prizes throughout the 6-week contest. The grand prize includes a one-year membership in our Discovery Club Wine Club and a private multi-course, wine-paired dinner for four people in our wine cellar with our winemaker. In addition, we’ll be doing a random draw each Friday for a Fort Berens prize package.” For your chance to win, enter the contest at FortBerens.ca or on the Fort Berens Facebook page between April 17th and May 31st.

As Lillooet’s first winery, in the heart of this emerging wine region, it’s important to the team at Fort Berens that they focus on producing wines that showcase Lillooet. Heleen Pannekoek, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens continued, ”Last year we won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines for our 2012 Riesling. Winning this prestigious award for a wine made with 100% estate-grown grapes really proved that not only could we grow grapes in Lillooet, but that we could grow premium-quality grapes here. Now that we have our new winery built, a maturing vineyard, and our full vineyard and winemaking team in place, our focus has turned to truly understanding what we can produce with grapes grown in Lillooet. Our intention is to keep improving the quality of our wines and continuing to express the distinct flavours of Lillooet.”

Heleen summarized, “Releasing our new vintages and showcasing 100% Lillooet is a major milestone for our team.  In addition to that, we are absolutely thrilled with how our new releases are tasting. Our vineyard is in great shape going into the key growing period and we have exciting plans coming up for the upcoming season.”

While 2014 may have been a major milestone year for the team at Fort Berens Estate Winery, all indicators point to another banner year in 2015.

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of several entrepreneurs – Heleen Pannekoek, Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, Jason Neal, John McConnell, Dan Barnholden and Patrick Downey. The eight owners of Fort Berens share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of the area and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine. With its vineyards on sagebrush-covered benchland along the Fraser River at the base of towering mountains, Fort Berens embraces the spirit of Lillooet. Alpine breezes, lingering summer sunlight and moderate winters provide a unique terroir ideal for growing premium grapes. Discover Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first winery, in BC’s newest wine region and explore 150 years of pioneering spirit. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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High resolution images and technical data sheets are available at http://www.fortberens.ca/About/Trade--Media.

For further information, please contact:

Kim Lawton
DogLeg Marketing & Business Solutions
250.488.0878
klawton@DogLegMarketing.ca

Time Posted: Mar 30, 2015 at 4:15 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
February 6, 2015 | Rolf de Bruin

Cellaring wine

We have been getting a number of inquiries about cellaring our wines. The reality is that most people do not have a professionally built wine cellar that provides ideal aging conditions with temperature and humidity control. If that is the case for you, how can you best cellar wine in your home?

Keep in mind that cellaring conditions become more relevant the longer you cellar. If you are cellaring or storing wine for a few weeks or even a few months, conditions are not as relevant as when you are cellaring wine for 5-7 years. The majority of the wine purchased is consumed within hours or days of the purchase, in which case cellaring is really not relevant. However, knowing that many wines will improve with age, more and more people are looking to purchase wine and age it. Cellaring can improve our enjoyment of the wine.

So if you want to cellar your wine, there are a few considerations to keep in mind: temperature, humidity, position, vibration, and light.

Wine can be cellared at any temperature, but temperatures between 6 degrees Celsius and 18 degrees Celsius is more ideal. With higher temperatures the wine will age quicker, while lower temperatures will slow down the rate of aging. Temperatures can fluctuate throughout the year, where temperatures in the summer can be 18 degrees Celsius and 6 degrees Celsius in the winter. This is not a problem. However, fluctuations during the day should be minimal. So cellaring wine next to your fireplace is usually not such a great idea.

High humidity and storing wine horizontally used to be very important, but this is when all wine was bottled with a natural cork. The use of natural cork has declined in recent years, in favour of synthetic cork and screwcaps. Natural cork needs to be kept moist in order to keep a tight seal. If the cork dries out due to low humidity or when the bottle stands up straight for a long period, the seal may be imperfect and oxygen can enter the bottle, which can spoil the wine. Conversely, screwcaps and synthetic cork are not as picky and therefore storing wine under low humidity and standing up straight are not real issues.

Vibration is said to have a negative impact on wine. Many experts indicate that wine should not be stored in places with continuous vibration, like on top of your refrigerator, so look for a storage location in your home that is relatively stable. However, we also know that a lot of wine is shipped by boat, trains and trucks where it is exposed to a lot of vibration during transit. To address this, let the wine rest after purchase to allow it to settle.

Some people own a wine fridge, which is a special refrigerator that can maintain a temperature between 4-18 degrees Celsius. As a comparison, a normal fridge is not able to maintain a temperature above 10 degrees Celsius. A wine fridge often has two sections, one section for white wines with a lower temperature and one section for red wines with a higher temperature. Wine fridges are great because it means you can have wine ready to open at the perfect temperature. Using a wine fridge also means you can avoid having to stick your white wine in the freezer for half an hour to chill it. Have you ever done that and then forgotten all about it, only to find a nice ice wine surprise the next day? Because of the vibration your wine will experience in a wine fridge, I suggest that you don’t store wine in a wine fridge for an extended amount of time. If you plan to keep wine for a number of years, it is likely to fair better in the back of a dark closet than inside a wine fridge.

Another factor to keep in mind is that wine will deteriorate under direct sunlight. This is why wine is often in green or brown bottles. However, even these darker bottles will not prevent spoilage due to sunlight. A few hours of sunlight is surely not going to have a major impact, but aging your fine red wines in the window sill is not recommended.

It’s also important to note that when aging red wine, sediment can develop. Sediment in red wine occurs naturally and occurs in most red wines. The longer you age red wine, the more sediment you should expect. In unfiltered red wines that have not been stabilized, more sediment can occur, while there may be less sediment in more commercially produced wines. After aging these wines, set the bottle up straight for at least 24 hours, to allow the sediment to fall to the bottom of the bottle prior to opening the bottle. Then pour very carefully or better yet, decant the bottle to avoid pouring sediment into your glasses. I rarely discard the sediment, but pour the last bit in my own glass and savour the last drops of that special wine that’s been aged for so long.

Do you think these rules about cellaring your wine really helps? I read an interesting article about aging conditions a while ago. I have not seen a lot of scientific research where side-by-side comparisons have been done to determine the cellaring conditions on the wine, so for now I follow the tips when I can, but I don’t obsess about them.

Wine is pretty robust when it is young. It can stand up to a lot of abuse. However, if I had a 1947 Château Margaux or another special bottle, I would likely follow all of the rules to give it the best chance to age beautifully.

Oh and by the way, we are cellaring some of our vintages in our winery cellar (under pretty good conditions). Regularly, we release some of these older library wines to our Discovery Club members so you can enjoy some exceptionally aged wines without the need for your own cellar.

 

Time Posted: Feb 6, 2015 at 9:25 AM
Rolf de Bruin
 
February 5, 2015 | Rolf de Bruin

PRESS RELEASE: Fort Berens Estate Winery Welcomes Barnholden and Downey. 2015 Promises to be an Exciting Year!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 5, 2015

LILLOOET, BC. Fort Berens Estate Winery is pleased to welcome Vancouver-residents Dan Barnholden and Patrick Downey to the award-wining winery’s Ownership Team. Dan and Patrick have joined founders Rolf de Bruin and Heleen Pannekoek, along with early partners Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, Jason Neal and John McConnell, to help fund Fort Berens’ estate-grown grape production capacity and future business growth.

“We are delighted to make this announcement. Dan and Patrick round out Fort Berens’ Ownership Team and their investment will allow us to expand the production and distribution of estate-grown grapes and wine from our Lillooet vineyard,” said co-founder, Rolf de Bruin.

Dan’s family roots in BC’s interior trace back several generations. A good friend and long-time business associate of a number of the owners, Dan’s high level of integrity and family connections in Lillooet make him a natural addition to the team.

Patrick brings to Fort Berens his boisterous spirit and infectious energy. Another good friend of a number of the owners, Fort Berens’ guests and patrons can expect to see a lot of Patrick at the winery in Lillooet and in the nearby town of Whistler where he frequently skis and cycles.    

2015 promises to be an exciting year at Fort Berens. Rolf explained, “2014 was an excellent year for us at Fort Berens as we completed construction and had the official grand opening of our new winery building and tasting room. As part of the next phase of our growth, this summer we will begin offering lunch service on our patio, which features a gorgeous view of our vineyard and the impressive Coastal Mountains.”

After selling out a number of wines in 2014, Fort Berens is also working on plans to expand production. Rolf continued, “We are working together with a few local farms to plant additional vineyards in the Lillooet region. We are also starting to think about the first steps in the development of our second estate vineyard on the benchlands directly north of our current vineyard. We have exciting plans for this year and we think 2015 will be another successful year.”

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of eight entrepreneurs – Heleen Pannekoek, Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, Jason Neal, John McConnell, Dan Barnholden and Patrick Downey. The owners of Fort Berens share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of the area and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine. With its vineyards on sagebrush-covered benchland along the Fraser River at the base of towering mountains, Fort Berens embraces the spirit of Lillooet. Alpine breezes, lingering summer sunlight and moderate winters provide a unique terroir ideal for growing premium grapes. Discover Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first winery, in BC’s newest wine region and explore 150 years of pioneering spirit. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Credit: Brad Kasselman/coastphoto.com

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For further information and additional photos, please contact:

Kim Lawton

DogLeg Marketing & Business Solutions

250.488.0878

klawton@DogLegMarketing.ca

Time Posted: Feb 5, 2015 at 11:31 AM