The Grape Debate of 2016

The gloves came off! Fighting words and one-liners were zinged across the room! There was a gong that told everyone when they had to shut up! The Grape Debate of 2016 was a circus of entertainment with a super star wine panel. You know you’re in for an exciting night when you put Sid Cross & David Schofield on opposing teams and tell them to go at it! 


The Question up for debate: 

Should B.C Wine be made to drink now, or made to​ age?

Here’s how it works: 2 teams of 3 wine experts argue their case, and DJ Kearney with her handy gong has the job of keeping everyone in line! In the end, it is left up to the audience to decide! 


With UBC’s snazzy new live user engagement web page that allowed attendees to ask the judges questions, weigh in on the debate, and vote! #Trendsetting


The panelists were none other than Severine Pinte, Winemaker at Le Vieux Pin Winery, Sid Cross and his Wine Cellar extraordinaire, and Howard Soon, Winemaker at Sandhill Winery – all debating for the ‘Age It’ team. Opposing them on the ‘Drink Now’ side were David Schofield (and his golden locks), Consultant for Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, Karen Gillis, Winemaker at Red Rooster Winery and Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond, Director of Sales and Marketing at Encore Vineyards. (yes, she is the daughter of THE Harry McWatters!)

Some great points were made! 

“We can’t all have a wine cellar like Sid Cross with 1000’s of Lafitte and Margaux! As an industry that’s emerging we must make wine people can drink now so they can identify with B.C Wine now” – David Scholefield

“If it’s quick to drink you don’t have to think”Howard Soon 

“You should drink it soon after you buy it, because you can’t return a bottle after 20 years of age to the liquor store!” – Karen Gillis

“Wine elevates over time,it developed layers, and that passion becomes animated with age” – Severine Pinte

“When a winery releases a bottle, it will already have some age on it from the barrel and possibly in bottle. The winery decides when it’s ready and releases it to market, so why not drink it then?” – Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond

“Wine is civilized, it’s about heritage. Why do you think I buy wines from old vines? Because they’re old!” – Sid Cross


Using the web page, the audience asked some very interesting questions…

“What young wine lovers in Vancouver can afford a bottle that should be aged for 10-20 years, let alone have the square footage here to store the wine!” 

Can I get a Hallelujah?!

Top Left: Mike West, of Okannagan Crush Pad Wine Shop, Leeann Froese of Townhall Brands, myself and Sam Huack Wine Educator

After the debate, we all got to drink! A number of BC VQA producers were pouring an assortment of wines, with back vintages to compare to new releases, alongside finger food for picking.


Throughout the tasting, a few interesting conversations took place as people asked each others opinions and thoughts on the subject. The theme of the rising need for instant gratification among a younger generation arised. Do we even have the patience anymore to age a bottle of wine? It was argued that Millenials and Gen X would simply ‘forget’ about a bottle they layed down to age… 

It was also brought up how the experience of wine changes between drinking a new wine versus a cellared wine, from a social to more cerebral experience. The intimacy arguably rises on a more personal level between you and the wine with a cellared wine, and as such perhaps takes away from the intimacy in a social gathering. However it can also be argued that the intimacy is even greater amongst a social group who drink a vintaged wine. The group that shares that one bottle cannot relate the experience with anyone else becase they can’t run to their local liquor store and pick it up again. 


But I digress, with a few cents to throw in. Firstly, not every varietal is meant to age and not every wine drinker would prefer a 40 year old brooding Burgundy to a fresh 3 year old Pinot Noir. Secondly, the key to this Gape Debate Q is that we are actually talking about how to MAKE a wine, and not just any wine, a B.C wine. 

B.C is a baby in the wine world, and if we make wine that we should be drinking 10 years from now the uphill battle to gaining global (or any) recognition and following gets that much steeper. Even if (or though) B.C wines can age, who will care, notice or buy wines they have never tried or heard of…? A-no one. We make wine that can be drunk now so that the wines we intend to make to age have a fighting chance of being received well in the marketplace. Both schools of thought help each other in that way.

That being said, every important wine producing country in the world ages their wine, and if B.C ever wants to step into the ring with some heavy weight champions they will need to suit up their bottles with a few inches of dust.

In the end how did the audience decide?


Made to drink! No surprise, seeing as how 89% of Canadians drink their wine within 2 weeks of purchase. 

If you want my advice, buy 2 bottles of every B.C wine you enjoy! One to drink now, AND one to drink later, then you be the judge. Get back to me in about a decade.

Great thanks to Vancouver Tourism, The BC Wine Institute, and UBC for putting on a wonderful evening that was both educational and so much fun!


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