Staff Profile: Eliana Bray
Eliana Bray is our Wineshop Manager and resident Sommelier. Eliana is full to the brim with wine knowledge and continuously impresses guests at our Platinum Club tastings and Seated Wine and Food pairings. Read about her favourite wine and why she loves Wonder Woman.
What is your favourite CedarCreek wine?
Loving the current vintage (2014) of the Block 4 Pinot Noir. It is the first wine that "had me at hello" when I was curious about CedarCreek wines before being a part of the team.
Pinot Noir is such a finicky grape. It can have so many expressions but it definitely is the true telling of the terroir, winemaker skill, viticulture, and language of the winery. To walk through the blocks with my wine team members and explain why our land and our block programs are there and to train them on why we do what we do is a rewarding part of my position. We cultivate wine ninjas to share our story.
Where is your favourite spot in the Okanagan?
Although I am not a fan of heights, I do love the top of Mt. Boucherie after a hike. It is such a part of the Central Okanagan history and it was also the place that I grew up in. Coming back to the Okanagan to experience it after life changes and wine training feels like coming home. I love to find new trails to explore and will not let a little altitude interfere. We have so many local hiking trails to explore that you can always find a new adventure.
What is one thing on your bucket list?
I have yet to complete my WSET Diploma, so that is a priority and then to seek entry to the Master of Wine program. I will endeavour to traverse the globe to taste my way through and put my mind and tastebuds to the test.
Who is your favourite comic book superhero and why?
Since I was a young future wine ninja from the age of 3 (there is photographic proof), my hero has and always will be Wonder Woman.
Especially now and being a clearly visible minority, I choose to believe in who and what we can be. We all have the power within to believe ourselves and achieve our potential.
Why can't we all be Wonder Women?
Top 5 Gifts for Every Type of Wine Lover
Need help finding that perfect gift for the wine lover in your life, but want to give a little more than a bottle of wine, we've got the gifts for everyone on your list and the wine pairing to go with them!
The Do-It-Yourself Type loves new discoveries - give them the gift of repurposing
their CedarCreek wine bottles with bottle lights.
For an added bonus, Jancis Robertson's The 24-Hour Wine Expert
will let them be a do-it-yourself wine expert too!
The Luxurious Host
For the luxury seeker and best host you know,
a beautiful and elegant bottle stopper will be just what they need.
A bottle of our 2016 Platinum Block 5 Chardonnay
is the perfect festive white wine to pair with this gift.
The Book Lover
For those that can't get enough of words,
a beautiful wine journal to help them record all their thoughts on their favourite wines,
and John Schriener's Icon: Flagship Wines from British Columbia's Best Wineries to help them get started.
And why not gift them the Icon wines from CedarCreek that Schriener mentions in the book:
2014 Platinum Block 2 and 2014 Platinum Block 4 Pinot Noir
All gift ideas can be found in our Wineshop, open daily from 11-5pm or call in to order a special gift basket or wine pack for your loved one.
TO PLACE AN ORDER
call 778-738-1027 or email email@example.com (please include contact information)
Staff Profile: Platinum Club Manager, Leigh Varga
Leigh Varga is CedarCreek’s own Platinum Club Manager. Well-known for being highly enthusiastic and friendly, Leigh is most excited when talking about food, wine, and travel. Since Leigh started in 2013, the Platinum Club has grown exponentially. She has bright plans for the future of the wine club, which starts with hiring an assistant to help her pack all the Platinum Club shipments! Growing up in the Okanagan, Leigh is passionate about the Valley and loves spending time both downtown Kelowna and out in the mountains.
First, what is your favourite glass of wine?
In the Summer, our Platinum Block 1 Pinot Noir Rosé (which I am really regretting not buying more of now that it is sold out) and in the Winter, our Syrah!
What’s your go-to local hang out?
There are too many great spots to just pick one! As soon as the weather warms up in the Spring, I head straight to the Hotel Eldorado patio. It’s such a great spot to people watch and has that quintessential ‘beach town’ feel that I love about Kelowna summers. I have really enjoyed the recent addition of Red Bird Brewing downtown when I need a little break from vino. As well, I’ve become slightly obsessed with the new Waterfront Café that it’s getting embarrassing how often I am there! They have all of my favourite things: an awesome brunch menu, perfectly baked pastries, an amazing selection of cheeses and fresh baked bread that I don’t need to go anywhere else!
If you weren’t a Wine Club Manager, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a Wine Club Manager, I would most likely be working the travel industry. I’m an avid traveler and try and sneak away as much as possible. I actually enjoy the planning and researching part just as much as the actual traveling and love helping friends and family plan their vacations.
What is your favourite hiking spot in the Okanagan?
I definitely can’t pick only one favourite hiking spot so here’s my top three.
- Big White in the Summer – This hike and the view at the top is stunning! The trails are well marked, there is a great spot to stop and enjoy a picnic, you can go for a refreshing dip in Rhonda lake if you need to cool down, you can take the chair lift down and the best part, the well deserved cold beer in the village after.
- McIntyre Bluff in Oliver – This is an absolute must if you live in the Okanagan- I highly recommend it in the Spring when all of the wildflowers are in bloom! The trailhead starts just behind Covert Farms Winery and is a lovely 10km hike with a very rewarding view of the surrounding vineyards, orchards and lakes.
- Pincushion Mountain in Peachland – This has been my go-to hike for many years. It’s challenging but the view at the top is breathtaking and so worth the climb up. My reward when I’m done, is sitting by the water at Bliss Bakery in Peachland and enjoying a breakfast croissant (or two…)!
What is your favourite wine & cheese pairing?
This is a tough one because I love all cheese and all wine! But many years ago when I was traveling through Spain, I admitted to my server at a restaurant that I had never tried Manchego cheese. A few minutes later he brought me a whole plate of it along with a huge glass of Tempranillo and said it was his favourite cheese and wine pairing and he was spot on, it was heavenly!
In-Depth Wine Knowledge: Tannins and CedarCreek Red Wines
As the weather grows colder, a complex glass of red wine sounds even more appealing on a snowy evening. Red wine varietals such as Syrah and Pinot Noir are the perfect pairing to cozy sweaters and warm fire-sides. The structure of these red wines, especially in our CedarCreek Estate Syrah 2015 and Platinum Block 4 Pinot Noir 2014, makes them particularly complex and comes directly from the tannins of the grapes. But how exactly does a tannin work to make these wines stand out? We thought we’d share a bit of wine knowledge on how tannins affect the taste of red wines.
Tannins are a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins. Tannins are typically expressed as a bitter taste on the tongue and a drying sensation in the mouth. The level of dryness and bitterness results from the winemaker’s choices of fermentation and aging, as well as the intended cellaring potential of the wine. Much of the tannic quality of red wines is determined by how long the juice of the grapes is soaked with the skins, seed, and stems. This process is implied in the word itself, as “tannin” derives from the process of using plants to tan leather. Think of a soft leather couch you love to curl up on in winter or your favourite suede boots – tannins are often associated with the feel of fabrics due to the textural sensation on the tongue. Tannins can feel silky, velvety, grainy, and/ or grippy.
For our Estate Syrah 2015, the grapes were fermented for 24 days on skins in stainless steel tanks followed by 14 months aging in French oak barriques. Our Syrah is 100% harvested from our Haynes Creek Vineyard in Osoyoos, British Columbia, making it a single vineyard wine. It occupies a unique position in this mostly-flat vineyard as the six acres of Syrah are planted on a westward slope of 15° that runs steeply down towards Osoyoos Lake. At mid-day, the heat is oppressive, yet Syrah vines love the heat, basking in the west-facing sun. The heat of this 2015 vintage, along with the fermentation process, are reflected in the tannins on the palette that structure the big rich, ripe fruit flavours and extends the length of the finish of this wine. A warmed Camembert with a Currant and Cherry compote is the perfect appetizer for this wine. You can enjoy our Syrah now or cellar until 2020 to discover a new level of tannic complexity.
On the other hand, in our Platinum Block 4 Pinot Noir 2014, the well-structured tannins are partially drawn out by using whole clusters of grapes (25% in this vintage). Whole cluster fermentation can only be done in years with near-perfect growing conditions to ensure that the stems do not impart a bitter taste on the wine. 2014 was a textbook year, and the resulting texture of this wine is particularly firm, yet the whole cluster fermentation adds a beautiful floral note to the wine. After 13 months aging in French oak barrels, the resulting wine has a lush, velvety sensation on the palate complimented by rich dark fruit and spice characters, but with plenty of structure on the finish. A warming squash and root vegetable winter meal pairs well with this wine. Enjoy now or cellar until 2021.
More from the Journal...
Video: A day with CedarCreek's Winemaker, Taylor Whelan, visiting our Desert Ridge and Haynes Creek vineyards in Osoyoos, BC.
Winemaking History in the Okanagan: Join us as we take a look back at winemaking history in our own backyard, from Kelowna's first winery to the first Okanagan Fall Wine Fest and more!