Tip Your Glass: Where to Find the Best Canadian Wines

Taking a wine-themed trip to Italy or the Napa Valley is on every oenophile’s bucket list. And, while less famous internationally, visiting Canadian vineyards is a fun and educational trip on its own. So, book a cheap flight (then you’ll have more money to spend on wine) and a hotel in one of the sites mentioned below to explore the best in Canadian wine.

Okanagan Valley

Encompassing Kelowna, B.C., the Okanagan Valley has been producing wine since the 1850s. It’s one of British Columbia’s two big wine regions (the other being Similkameen) and is notable for the variety of grapes grown there today. Along with Canada’s famous ice wine (a sweet variety produced from grapes frozen while still on the vine), in Okanagan wine lovers can find everything from merlot to tempranillo and chardonnay to gewürztraminer. An easy drive from Kelowna, the Okanagan Valley has many wine tours starting from the city.

Similkameen Valley

South of Okanagan, the Similkameen Valley was one of the first parts of British Columbia to be farmed by European settlers. It was the site of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in the late 1800s, but now most visitors are interested in its liquid gold — wine, that is! It stretches from the town of Princeton along the Similkameen River and over the American border. Take tours starting from Keremos; this valley and Okanagan make up 90 percent of British Columbia’s wine production.

The Niagara Peninsula

Another well-reviewed wine region in Canada is in Ontario on the Niagara Peninsula. Featuring a variety of vineyards operated by vintners big and small, this wine region also has many accommodation options, often on the winery properties themselves. Although a common misconception some travelers have is that Canada is too far north for many grape varieties, the Niagara Peninsula is actually at the same latitude as many famous and well-regarded wine regions in France, such as Bordeaux.

Prince Edward County

Although it’s one of the most southerly parts of Canada, Prince Edward County in Ontario was one of the last places to take off as a wine destination. It became a Designated Viticultural Area in 1997 and now boasts about 30 wineries. The region’s cuisine also gets rave reviews, so wine enthusiasts who are also gourmands will be especially happy visiting here. It’s an easy drive from Toronto and Ottawa — and has plenty of accommodation options.

Vancouver Island

If your travels take you to the West, spend a day or two exploring Vancouver Island’s wineries. Although some of the wines made there are simply casked and not grown, the local pinot noir and pinot gris get good reviews as do their sparkling wines. Most of the wineries are based on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, near Victoria, so that’s a good starting point.

Fraser Valley

Back in British Columbia, the Fraser Valley offers some interesting wines for the travelling connoisseur. An easy drive from Vancouver, the 15 Fraser Valley wineries host tastings, farm tours and dining events. Accommodation is available, but some visitors prefer to stay in Vancouver. Fraser Valley’s most popular wines are Blattner reds and whites, and pinot noir.

Pelee Island and Creston Valley

Two more Canadian wine areas deserving of mention are Pelee Island and Creston Valley. Lake Erie’s Pelee Island in Ontario is the southernmost inhabited area in Canada. This small island, accessible by ferry from both the U.S. and Canadian shorelines, has roughly over a hundred permanent residents and a well-reviewed winery. The winery offers tours, tastings and pairings. Creston Valley in British Columbia, on the other hand, has three wineries and aspires to have more soon. While in the area, visitors can also go trout and salmon-fishing, or enjoy other water sports on the Kootenay River in warm months.

About the Author: Robert Johnstan worked in restaurants in Toronto for many years before deciding to go back to school and open a consulting business for startups in the food industry.

  

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The Wonderful Wine Regions of South Australia

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Consisting of over 200 cellar doors and featuring many of the best drops in Aus, the South Australian wine trail is a must-do for every wine lover. Best of all, everything is in driving distance from Adelaide, meaning that arranging airport transfers, organizing transport and booking suitable Adelaide accommodation is exceptionally easy. The following is a guide to five of the best areas on the South Australian wine trail, with tips on which cellar doors and wineries you must visit.

Barossa

The Barossa Valley is where Aussie wines were born and is home to some of the oldest vines in the country (160 years!). Located approximately 70kms from the heart of Adelaide, it’s a beautiful area, full of history and architecture from the original German settlers. Best known for its big, bold shiraz, Barossa is home to some of the most famous names in the Aussie wine industry, including Wolf Blass, Jacobs Creek, Yalumba and of course, Penfolds. The nearby Eden Valley is also part of the Barossa region and is a quaint spot known for its award-winning riesling production. Not only is the Barossa known for its top drops, it’s also a haven for foodies. It is home to a range of wonderful restaurants and some amazing cheese companies. Check out the Barossa Valley Cheese Company for a complete food and wine experience.

McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale is a red wine lover’s paradise. With over 70 cellar doors, it is best known for its deep, dark shiraz, flavoursome cabernet sauvignon and prizewinning grenache. Some of the must-sees include Chapel Hill Winery, Geoff Merrill Wines, Rosemount Estate and Zimmerman Wines. The boutique Chalk Hill is also a must-visit with a proud history of wine-making dating back six generations. If you have a more organic preference, check out the Battle of Bosworth and Spring Seed Wines. Finish your trip with a follow-up beer at the Vale Ale Brewery.

Coonawarra

Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon is a staple of the Australian wine industry. The biggest wine area on the Limestone Coast, its terra rossa soil is credited for the region’s success. Although it sits 375kms from Adelaide, it’s worth the jaunt. Out of its 24 cellar doors, some of the best include Bowen Estate, Brand’s Laira Coonawarra, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Redman Wines. Another highlight is the Coonawarra Wine Gallery, where you can various range of local wines and treat yourself to cheese platters and coffee.

Clare Valley

Located approximately 120kms from Adelaide, Clare Valley is home to some of the best in Aussie riesling. Another of Australia’s oldest wine regions, it’s full of attractions and activities including restaurants, art galleries and events, making it a hot-spot for tourists. The area is generally made up of boutique producers. Some of the best names on the riesling trail are some of the most renowned producers in all of Australia, including Jim Barry Wines, Tim Adams Wines, Edredge Wines, Taylors Wines and Annies Lane.

Adelaide Hills

Sitting 20 minutes from Adelaide, the gorgeous scenic views offered by Adelaide Hills makes for a lovely afternoon excursion in the crisp midwinter weather. Being a cool climate region, Adelaide Hills produces chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and riesling. The region’s style is elegant and premium, which has led to its national and international success. With over 40 cellar doors, Adelaide Hills offers something for everyone, regardless of palate and preference. K1 by Geoff Hardy is a must-see, as are Bird in Hand, Leabrook Estate and Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard. Adelaide Hills is also known for its fabulous food, wine and music events. Look online before you go to see if anything coincides with your trip.

Photo credit: badjonni / Foter / CC BY-SA

About the Author: Dale McKenzie is a passionate wine drinker, wine writer and occasional wine judge. His dream is to retire on a seven-acre vineyard block in the Margaret River.

  

Popular casinos to visit in Las Vegas

If you’re taking a holiday in the city of Las Vegas, it is pretty likely that you will be visiting some of the casinos that are found around the city, especially along the Strip. The city offers well over one hundred casinos which can make selecting a few rather difficult. While these casinos all have their own flavor, certain ones are simply more popular than others.

The Bellagio is one of the more opulent casinos found in the city. It is well attended due to its casino game offerings including its poker rooms. These rooms have been the site of various poker tours. Measuring a total of 7000 square feet, the room is complete with 40 poker tables as well as two areas with high limits. Among these is the famous Bobby’s Room which was named for the 1978 World Series of Poker Champion, Bobby Baldwin. The casino also features a fountain show with the fountain being synchronize with a music and light program. Gamblers at the Bellagio should take a short time out to experience this one of a kind show.

Located within close proximity to the Bellagio is the Venetian. Visitors here can expect to find a theme from the Italian city of Venice. Complete with canals and gondolas, many may even for a brief time feel like that are actually in Venice. Like the Bellagio, poker has quite a presence here at the Venetian. The poker room found here is one of the largest in the city with 59 poker tables making it easy to cash in to a game while visiting the Venetian. Expect to find various versions of poker just like those available at CasinoOnline.co.nz . This includes the popular community card poker games of Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Poker which are enjoyed by many at online casinos. Some tables do offer high limits but lower limit tables are present as well.

  

Three Days in LA: A 2013 ESPY Awards adventure

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I knew it was going to be an interesting trip to Los Angeles when I met actor Colin Farrell at LAX baggage claim upon arrival. Minutes later, I bumped my shoulder into Olympic legend Michael Phelps’ tightly toned torso while wildly retrieving my luggage from the baggage carousel.

Here is the actual transcript of our meeting:

“Whoa. Hi Michael, excuse me. That bag kinda got away from me there for a second.”

“No problem, how are you?”

“I am good, nice to see you.”

Turning my attention, and body, towards the exit, I again saw Farrell, this time attempting to lay low in the shadows as people began to recognize him as “that one guy from ‘SWAT.’”

Suddenly, five punky paparazzo exploded off the elevator and surged towards the helpless Farrell, who was now pacing back and forth, alone, waiting for his luggage, while having a conversation on his cell phone that was going nowhere. He was adamant about needing a ride immediately, but his urgency was neither acknowledged nor reciprocated.

A pair of 50-something (but don’t tell them that) Latinas spotted him, exclaiming with glee to everyone within earshot that Farrell was, in fact, “right by them.”

The ladies bum rushed him and made their jerky husband take several pictures while they posed, Farrell maintaining a state of disinterest throughout the experience. 30 people stood around and watched, mouths agape.

Metaphorically, Farrell was naked in front of his high school assembly, with no publicist or agent in sight to deflect or protect, and the verbal potshots began to pile up.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Virgin Atlantic is no ordinary experience

Richard Branson has always had a flare for the dramatic, so it’s no surprise to see unique ideas coming from Virgin Atlantic. The company recently launched their new “Flying in the face of ordinary” promotion by replacing an ordinary park bench with an extraordinary one – complete with padded red leather, extendable leg rests, stewardess call button and a fold-out entertainment. Everything you would expect in the air, placed in the middle of New York. People could take a seat and take complete control of their experience. Check out the video.

  

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