Spring has arrived, and that of course means visiting local wineries after a long dreary winter. Our journey began on a overcast last day of March in search of the newest winery to join the ever growing list of fine wineries in the Fraser Valley. Our destnation was Glass House Estate Winery located on 0 Avenue, the border road that separates Canada from the the US.
It turns out that the winery is only about 20 minutes from home (how convenient) so it wasn't long before the distinctive blue sign came into view. The signage reflects the label designed by co-owner Ingrid de Jong for their wine bottles. The winery has been developed on a large acreage directly across from the peaceful marshlands on the US side. The nicely landscaped ground will be enhanced this spring, picnic areas will be developed over looking the vineyards, along with an events centre attached to the winery.
The interior is exquisitely designed with a warm and inviting decor. A long tasting bar and beautiful wood hewn tables overlook the vineyard, we don't want to give everything away with photos, you must go see for yourself. I will say, that Barbara who has a taste for decor was impressed.
Felicity with her bright smile, cheery personality and long time experience in the wine industry was our tasting host. Inviting hospitality and knowledgeable staff are a key to having guests return, Glass House certainly provided that.
We wanted to experience all the winery had to offer for our report which meant ordering a food plate. Their small but elegant menu offers three main selections, an Assorted Cheese plate, Galiano Island Smoked Fish, and a Dutch Cheese and Charcuterie; which we chose (see above) The Smoked Fish is a rather unique concept offering Albacore Tuna Lion, Chum and Sockeye Salmon.
We were pleasantly surprised when our Charcuterie plate was delivered by the winery co-owner, Ingrid de Jong. The plate was presented with a lovely smile and explanation of the specialized items along with answering questions about the winery. We highly recommend it, there is plenty for 2 to enjoy!
Ingrid co-owns the winery along with her husband Arthur de Jong. They and their three young daughters immigrated from the Netherlands in 1983 having given themselves six months to establish a life in Canada or return home. Judging from the successes they created, the "return home" trip never materialized.
The name Glass House pays homage to the family's 60 year history in the greenhouse industry, starting in the Netherlands and continuing in North America. After a wine tasting trip to the Okanagan in 2012, Arthur got on his excavator to clear 8 acres of overgrown Christmas trees to make way for a vineyard. Ingrid then enrolled in WSET and quickly progressed to her Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits to strengthen themselves as a team. Their youngest daughter, Margit, came on board in the early stages to help with the grafting of the vines, to learn about the vineyard and to help set up the business.
With the help of a European consultant winemaker they produced their first vintage 2012.*
Owners Arthur and Ingrid de Jong - photo Barbara Bell
Ingrid took us into the new (still under construction) events centre. The portion of the winery that strongly resembles a glass house. Here we had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Arthur. He is definitely g a hands on owner, creating, designing and building parts of the facilities. The windows and frame work were imported from their native Holland. The above photo shows one of the barrels that line the back wall with the original plantings. Over time the vines will grow to enhance the room.
Most importantly though, it has to be the wines that determine success in this very competitive industry, Glass House wines are surprisingly good for a first year winery. Using a proven consultant and allowing the vines to mature has produced high quality. The reds are from established vineyards in the Naramata Bench, the whites are estate grown. Felicity started us with the 2014 Chardonnay the aroma was good with citrus flavours...Next came the 2014 Viognier with nice aromas; tangerine, honeysuckle, notes of peach, papaya and honeydew with a good finish.
This was followed by an excellent Gewürztraminer, we made sure to take one of these home. They also make a nice 2015 Rosé des Pinot which will excite your taste-buds.
As for the Canadian favourite, Icewine, the 2014 Gewürztraminer has the perfect sweetness and is well balanced. Exactly what an Icewine should be. It was an excellent finish to a 3 hour visit to Langley's new winery, and a "go to place" for Wines of Canada.
photographes © Robert A Bell and Barbara Bell
* Quoted from their Instagram page
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