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Introducing the WineCollective Two!

We’ve been long awaiting the release of our next wine series selection, the WineCollective Two! Finally, it has arrived and we are thrilled to showcase this unexpectedly delicious wine produced by world renowned Kaesler Winery.

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The WineCollective Wine Series is aimed at presenting classic varietal specific wines from their most expressive regions. The Barossa Valley, and greater Australia, is famous for their juicy, rich Shiraz.

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Kaesler Winery was established in Barossa in 1893 and is a well recognized name on WineCollective and Tannic. We are honoured to partner with Kaesler to bring members the WineCollective Two, a 2011, 100% old vine Shiraz!

WineCollective Two is sourced from a cooler vintage, but from an outstanding vineyard. We stumbled upon this wine with great luck! Learn more about the story of this wine, and it’s release, by visiting WineCollective.ca/TWO


New Canadian exclusives from Master of Wine, Justin Howard-Sneyd

We recently announced that WineCollective will be the first to provide Canadians with the Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold labels, produced by Master of Wine, Justin Howard-Sneyd.

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Based out of London, UK, we had the opportunity to Skype with Justin and ask him about these exciting products in time for the release, coming in May.

Q: What led you to start your Domaine of the Bee project?

A: In the early 90’s, I helped make wine as an assistant winemaker, kind of a ‘cellar rat’ if you will. I always new I wanted to make my own wine, but it was more of a matter of finding the right location. I worked as a buyer and travelled around, then in 2004, I came across the vineyards of Maury in Roussillon.

Q: Why did you source vineyards in Maury for Domaine of the Bee?

A: We have friends that own a block nearby and the sheer quality of fruit and wine from the area made us want to purchase the vineyard. The varieties of the vineyard were mixed so we knew they were old vines, likely 90 to 100-years-old with low yields. We’re in a small microclimate in the side valley of the larger valley so really, its a better quality. We didn’t originally have a business plan, we started because we wanted to buy the vineyard. After a few years we had enough blocks to make it worthwhile.

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Q: How involved are you in the winemaking process?

A: I go back to Maury about 10 times a year. Of the 4 to 5 weeks of harvest, I spend about 3 there. Now that I am consulting I have more time to spend in Maury. We worked with Richard Case, who lives and works in Maury. After the 2011 vintage we have worked with my old friend from South Africa winemaking days, Jean-Marc Lafage. The decisions are made together and the winemaker is there in France to oversee everything.

Q: Do you have a winemaking philosophy?

A: I am a believer in the scientific winemaking method. I am not a believer in natural wine, although I have tasted many lovely natural wines. For me, I am also running a business. I am making a wine that my customers want and enjoy and so I aim to create a style that is consistant year after year.

Domaine of the Bee is a Grenache, Carignan blend. A full flavoured red, not just a fruit bomb. It has lots of structure and character from the terroir, lovely acidity. I like the influence of oak, it is a significant component but we don’t want to make that dominant. I have found that a 1/4 or a 1/3 in new oak for the right balance.

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Carignan vines in Maury, Roussillon. 

Q: What kind of professional critics have you received?

A: The majority of the wine journalists in the UK have written about the wine, all in different vintages. All feedback has been positive and I find those that don’t like the wine are consumers who like very fruit forward styles. Reliable, credible critics like Jancis Robson and Olly Smith have really enjoyed the wine and the style.

Q: What inspired the Hart of Gold project?

A: In 1976, when I was 10, we had a really hot summer in England. A year later, we visited my father’s friend who had made wine and it was amazingly good from the heat of that summer. That was the first vintage where people started to pay attention to English Sparkling Wine. I have always bought a lot of wines from England and watched the quality grow. In 2010, it as clear that England was making world class sparkling that reviled Champagne.

Q: Who are your partners in this project? Where are the grapes sourced from?

A: It took me a while to find the right partner. We work with Ridgeview as the producer. The Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier are sourced from a grower of Ridgeview. The vineyard is on a steep slope, south-east facing. The climate is overall a little cooler by 1 to 3 degrees and wetter compared to Champagne. With global warming the climate in England is very similar to Champagne, 30 years ago.

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Q: What has sparked consumer interest in English Sparkling Wine?

A: Not many sparkling wines have challenged Champagne in style and quality. I think there are more wine professionals in England and new equipment, new investors, and also wineries are gaining credentials. The wine is made in the classic Champagne method and the quality of the wine is making people say, “Hold on. This is just as good as Champagne” but with better value.

Q: What do you want WineCollective members to know about Hart of Gold.

A: The sparkling wine expresses something about England and Englishness. The authentic and classic label draws from England’s medieval history. The label is inspired by Richard the Second’s personal symbol, the white hart. In history, the white hart was known to appear in auspicious times. A few years back, I was walking in a park nearby my home and there was a white deer. I used it all to connect the wine, and England’s history.

Q: Do you have plans to further expand? Where can Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold be found?

A: Right now there is a small volume of both. Only 1,500 bottles of the Hart of Gold was produced and only 4,000 of the Domaine of the Bee. We are looking to purchase nearby vineyard blocks and increase producition. Right now, the wine is exported to Denmark and Norway, U.S. and Hong Kong.

Q: Do you have a favourite Canadian wine? Have you visited any of our regions?

A: I am shockingly ignorant and I plan on fixing that reasonably soon. I have had a handful of ice wine, which I really do like. Journalists have recently been singing praises of Canadian wines and I look forward to trying and understanding Canadian wines and regions.

Stay tuned to learn more about Justin and his fantastic wines. Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold are coming to WineCollective and Tannic very soon! Keep an eye out, and a fast hand, we have extremely limited quantities that will not last long.

 

*NOW AVAILABLE! Extremely limited quantities of Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold are now available in the WineCollective online store! 


Meet Liquidity Wines

You may have noticed a special Canadian wine in March WineCollective packages, Liquidity Chardonnay! Nestled in the Okanagan Falls, between Lake Vaseux and Skaha, the land where Liquidity Wines now sits has been supplying quality fruit for eighty years.

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In the 1930’s, Charlie Oliver developed Oliver Ranch where he planted over 110 acres of cherry, peach, apricot and pear trees. His development of irrigation systems still feed surrounding vineyards to this day. A pioneer in the Okanagan, it is said that in it’s day, Oliver Ranch was the largest orchard in the British Empire.

Oliver Ranch was divided and sold in 1971. Blue Mountain’s Ian Mavety farmed the property and a 30-acre portion, planted to German varietals, became today’s Liquidity Wines.

A subsequent owner built the Santa-Fe style home located on the property. Because it sat on a hilltop and was opened to panoramic views, it was frequently mistaken for a winery. In 2008, a group of business men and wine enthusiasts led by Ian MacDonald, renovated the Santa Fe house to a tasting room and Bistro, which was completed in 2013.

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*Photos by Lionel Trudel

In addition, MacDonald and his team built a modern fully-equipped winery in time for the 2012 vintage, though in previous years, Liquidity made small volumes of their wines at another winery and sold their remaining fruit.

Through out the 90’s, all non-vinifera vines were replaced with current varietals, Viognier. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon on the 30-acre plot.

As the Okanagan Falls is the most narrow part of the valley, wind funnels through and cools the grapes. Erin Korpisto of Liquidity says because of this “the Okanagan Falls [are] usually 2 to 5 degrees cooler than Oliver and Osoyoos, making the area particularly known for its excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production.”

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10,000 years ago, glaciers covered the Okanagan landscape and deposited sand and gravel soils. These mineral rich soils are not only an ideal growing condition for the vines, but they also translate into the character of the wines. All Liquidity wines are estate grown and hand-harvested. Only sustainable viticultural practices are suitable for the two Liquidity vineyards.

“Here at Liquidity, there are three pillars: Wine, Food & Art.”

Wine

The Liquidity Chardonnay happens to be a favourite among staff and Liquidity fans. A few weeks ago, the wine received a Silver Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in France.

The juice was racked to French oak barrels (20% new) to undergo fermentation. Partial malolactic fermentation followed and the wine was aged on lees, with stirring for 11 months.

“The 2013 Chardonnay is a bit more rounded and has more complexity than previous vintages. While still maintaining lovely acidity and fruit,” Erin says. “This vintage shows the health of the vineyard beginning to flourish and the vines really coming into their own.”

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Food

Liquidity’s Bistro is a modern, Okanagan and Pacific North West inspired restaurant that not only uses fresh local produce, but also ingredients from the chef’s own garden. Only open seasonally, the food at Bistro is simple, clean and fresh.

As the second pillar of Liquidity, Erin stresses the importance and relationship between food and wine. For the 2013 Chardonnay, she recommends Bistros’s Oliver Road 17 Char with Smokey Puttanesca Butter, Roe, Ancient Grain “Risotto” and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette.

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Art

From the very beginning, Ian MacDonald had always been passionate about art, design and the conversations that they begin. Around Liquidity’s grounds are various pieces of work that belong to Liquidity and Ian’s own personal collection. You can find descriptions of all the pieces at Liquidity on their website.

From July through October, on the 2nd Saturday of each month, Liquidity will be hosting their second annual Artist Lecture Series, featuring many Canadian artists such as Bobbie Burgers, Jeff Burgess and David Burdney.

As always, we encourage our members to head out to Canadian wine regions, including the Okanagan Falls! Liquidity Wines would love to have to visit their tasting room, Bistro and inviting, art filled, grounds.

Visit Liquidity Wines and give them a follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for information on upcoming events at the winery, and let us know how you enjoyed the 2013 Liquidity Chardonnay.

Stay tuned for more Liquidity Wines!

Rate, comment and buy more on the members only, online store!


Introducing Burgundy Oak

We’d like to introduce Burgundy Oak – a new barrel decor manufacturer based out of Calgary. Founded by Joel Jelinski and business partner, Brent Kadler in June 2015, Burgundy Oak uses reclaimed wine barrels to craft gorgeous displays, furniture and beyond. We’re excited to showcase their unique brand and products, plus an additional bonus for WineCollective members!

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While growing up, Joel says he always had a keen interest in using his hands. He purchased a saw, drill and sander and began his first company in creating shaped candles until his mother asked him for a favour. Upon purchasing a wine barrel, Joel’s mother was in the need of some gifts and so Joel took apart the barrel and made candleholders. Burgundy Oak was born!

Through out 2014, Joel, a Civil Engineering student, was working with Cenovus Energy. During his off time, Joel, who was frequently exchanging his ideas with coworker, Brent, began to experiment with more products and gathered customer feedback at local farmer’s markets. As sales and interest increased, and considering the downturn in the oil economy, Joel formally formed his company.

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Today, Burgundy Oak is increasing in popularity and sales – you may have even noticed them during Calgary’s 2015 Rocky Mountain Wine Fest. Up until recently, Joel has crafted all goods, in house but is now beginning to outsource manufacturing to local artesian woodworkers.

“Our woodworking partners are very passionate about their work and strive to maintain the high standards, hand crafted quality that our customers have come to expect.” Joel says. “Although we are drifting away from manufacturing in-house, Brent and I are very involved with developing custom pieces for customers and designing new products to add to our line of products.”

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French and American Oak barrels are sourced for Burgundy Oak products from various wineries in the Okanagan. Due to some recent demand, the pair are researching options for barrels from specific regions, like Napa Valley. Customer’s have also requested pieces made from a barrel sourced at a particular winery, from their favourite wine. Joel expects to reach these challenges with a special project named, the Signature Series, coming soon!

Keep an eye out for more Burgundy Oak and their upcoming products and projects. We also invite you to check out Smoke Barrel – a sister company crafting truly impressive BBQs and Smokers from Burgundy Oak barrels.

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The popular Dual Glass holder is one of Burgundy Oak’s best sellers – visit Highfield to check out the holder along with the full Wine Barrel Cabinet. You can view all Burgundy Oak products on their website, including clocks, trays, candle holders and more! WineCollective members can use the coupon code WINECOLLECTIVE25 for 25% off!

For more information, check out Burgundy Oak on Facebook and Instagram!


Villa Minelli Launch!

Last night at Highfield, we were thrilled to introduce the Villa Minelli Rosso during our pre-release tasting.

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Joined by WineCollective members, supporters and friends, we gave the fantastic wine a warm welcome into Canada as Villa Minelli wines are not available anywhere else in North America!

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To learn more about the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend, visit our blog!

For the first time in WineCollective history, before this wine is featured in packages, we want to pass on our pre-release price to all members across Canada. Today, you can find a Villa Minelli pack including 6 bottles of the 2013 (only the second vintage ever produced) for just $125.99!

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Notes from the producer: “A deep cyclamen red wine with an intense nose of mature woodland berries (myrtle and mulberry) and dried dog rose. The palate reflects the nose, with mulberry in the foreground along with mature tannins and a rich, fascinating vinosity.”

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Delicious now, but we expect great things from the Rosso in the next year or two. Enjoy one tonight, another tomorrow and save the rest for a later date!

If you receive the Villa Minelli Rosso in an upcoming package, be sure to tell us what you think! Log in to your WineCollective account to rate & comment on the wine – we want to know what you think of the brand new ultra exclusive Rosso!


Villa Minelli Rosso Pre-Release!

Villa Minelli is owned by the Benetton family, best known for their world wide clothing brand, United Colors of Benetton. For years, founder Luciano Benetton, would see the grapes that grew outside of Benetton headquarters in Treviso, Italy, and one day decided they were destined for the wine cellar. In 2006, after 60 years of the family tending to the vineyard, Luciano established Villa Minelli and today, we’re thrilled to introduce the wine that has not yet seen the Americas, until now!

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A serendipitous encounter during his Euro travels, WineCollective CEO, Matthew Protti, discovered Villa Minelli and tasted their 2013 Rosso. Needless to say, Matthew wasted no time and ordered the remainder of the inventory making the Villa Minelli Rosso an exclusive to our members! You will not find this wine anywhere else in North America!

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Winemaking

The Rosso is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from two municipalities in Treviso, Ponzano and Villorba. Vine age is dependant on varietal; 20-year-old Cabernet and 40-year-old Merlot. Grapes are handpicked and sorted in the vineyard, then again in the winery before a long, temperature controlled maceration and fermentation, pumped daily for best extraction of colour and tannins. Later, the Rosso is transferred to stainless steel tanks and is aged on lees for 6-8 months until Spring prior to three months in bottle.

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Villa Minelli Estate. Behind it, the United Colours of Benetton factory.

WineCollective members can expect the Villa Minelli Rosso in February packages. However, our lucky local members have the chance to try and buy the wine at a pre-release tasting event!

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Producer’s Notes: “A deep cyclamen red wine with an intense nose of mature woodland berries (myrtle and mulberry) and dried dog rose. The palate reflects the nose, with mulberry in the foreground along with mature tannins and a rich, fascinating vinosity.”

For members interested in attending our exclusive pre-release tasting of the Villa Minelli Rosso, please contact us! If you’re not in Calgary, don’t worry, the Rosso is soon headed your way. Be sure to log in to your WineCollective account to rate and comment on the wine – we really want to know what you think about this one.


A Christmas Treat: Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Warm, cozy hot chocolate with a boozy touch. YUM! Enjoy this Wine-O Hot Chocolate recipe with (adult) friends & family over the holidays!
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Ingredients – Recipe by Cassie Johnston
  • ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup dry red wine (see below for our recommendations)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, optional (see notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
How to:
  1. Combine the chocolate chips, wine, milk, half, and half and sugar* in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is hot.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour into mugs and serve.
* If you’ll need to use the sugar or not will depend on the sweetness of your wine. If you’re using a very dry wine, you’ll want to add in the sugar. It’s best to take a sip without the sugar, and then add it in if need be.
Which wine do I use?
The 60 North Merlot, with touches of Petit Verdot, Petit Sirah, Zinfandel and Malbec is a balance of fruity and savoury. Bright and fresh without overdone acidity will really blend into the chocolate with added spice and sweetness.
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Empordàlia Verdera Negre is a blend of Grenache and Carignan. The emphasis on tart berries, spice and even hints of cocoa will compliment the rich chocolate flavours and limit the use of added sugar.
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Witt’s End, Luna Shiraz is a slightly older WineCollective feature but is always kept in stock due to its popularity. From McLaren Vale, Australia, you can expect along the lines of a rich fruit bomb with oaky spice. What makes this great for your hot cocoa, is the silky mouthfeel and balanced tannins and acidity.
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Undurraga U is entirely Cabernet Sauvignon, which is well known for its love affair with chocolate. The Chilean wine is youthful and vibrant, and sees no oak. It’s dark berry and chocolate spice characteristics are a bonus.
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If you’ve already consumed these wines without any left in your cellar, we recommend sticking to Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz based wines for your hot chocolate.
For last minute shoppers, remember that WineCollective Holiday Wine Experience Packages are still available until Dec 31st. We’d like to wish all of our members a very Happy Holiday Season, with great food, friends & wine! Cheers!

WineCollective’s Holiday Open House!

With the help of wine importing friends, and local restaurants and brewery’s, our first Holiday Open House at Highfield was a great success!

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This past Saturday, we invited WineCollective, Tannic and Highfield customers, members and supporters to join us for an afternoon of wine tastings. We’d like to thank those who offered their time and donations and even more, those that came for a visit!

Our Holiday House featured 9 different WineCollective & Tannic favourites including Joseph Mellot Le Tronsec, Pierre Amadieu Grand Romane and Empordàlia’s Verdera Negre thanks to Jason and Evolution Fine Wines.

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Scott from Redback Wines poured Les Anges Chardonnay and the delicious Les Terriades Rosé D’Anjou, which was a huge hit. The rosé nearly sold out and only 3 bottles are remaining in store!

Plaid Cap Imports poured the long time favourite, Gelso Nero and Albet i Noya’s Lignum Blanc, while the lovely Deb at Cellar Door poured Dictador Rum & Colombian Gin – now available at Highfield!

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We at WineCollective also poured Schug Estate’s Sauvignon Blanc and the Konzelmann Pinot Noir recently featured in November.

Every guest also received a gift bag, filled with goodies and special deals from our Open House sponsors Chef Bar and LDV Pizza Bar. LDV also donated pizza and bruschetta to nibble on during the tastings!

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A big thanks to Village Brewery for their donation of a raffle prize which included free tour passes and of course, beer!

All of the wines poured at our Open House are still available on the WineCollective online store and in Highfield! Thanks again to all who participated – we look forward to our 2016 Holiday House!


Vineland’s Optical Sorter

It is really no secret that WineCollective is a fan of Vineland Estates. Throughout the years, we have featured multiple wines and when winemaker, Brian Schmidt, proposed a special project earlier this year, we jumped at the opportunity for a Vineland exclusive.

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The 2014 Vineland Cabernet Franc is showcased in many December packages, which is the wine’s sole distribution around the world, for now. What makes this Cab Franc even more special is that it is the first of Vineland wines to be sorted through their new optical sorting machine!

Vineland is not only the first Niagara winery with an optical sorter, but also the first Canadian winery to own the machine. According to Brian, the sorter is an absolute “game changer.”

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Using cameras and lasers, the optical sorter essentially removes all unripe grapes from those qualified to be vinified. With the ability to recognize colour, size, shape, structural properties and even, chemical composition, sorters are in widespread use in the worldwide food industry for processing harvested food like potatoes, veggies and of course, grapes!

As the sorter pushes through the grapes, the camera and lasers take 1,000 pictures per second, allowing ripe grapes to be compared with unripe grapes as well as foreign material such as stems. The unfit matter is then sorted to waste, while the bountiful fruit just passes on by.

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How does it work?

With the combination of camera sorters and lasers, the sorter functions using visible light wavelengths, as well as infrared and UV spectrums. “The optimal wavelengths for each application maximize the contrast between the objects to be separated.”

Compared to manual sorting, the optical sorter gives Vineland the ability to better sort quality fruit, maximize out put and increase yields, and of course, reduces manual labour.

You may be wondering how this impacts the wine, or specifically, the 2014 Cabernet Franc and truthfully, there are no flavour or character changes to the wine. However, with top of the line sorting technology, you can be sure that only the best fruit was used to create the wine and therefore, it is of superior quality.

As a young wine, the 2014 is mighty full and complex. The Cabernet Franc is layered with ripe cherries and currant, as well as soft touches of spice and pepper. We were extremely impressed when trying this vintage for the first time.

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The optical sorter has even inspired Brian to create a new line of wines for Vineland named “Game Changer.” With ever changing labels, Schmidt hopes to highlight people, places and new technology in the wine industry, starting with the optical sorter. We hope to one day also bring this project to members!

For more information on Vineland and their fabulous wines, check out our Vineland Estates blog, which highlights Brian’s last trip to Calgary and WineCollective headquarters… where dreaming of the exclusive Cab Franc first took place.

Be sure to let us know what you think! Don’t forget to rate and comment on the new Vineland Cabernet Franc!


Fairtales, Legends, Fashion & Wine!

Last weekend, WineCollective & Highfield were extremely fortunate to take part in the Calgary Philharmonic’s Fairytales and Legends Fashion Gala!

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Featuring Holt Renfrew fashion, styled by the ladies of Styleista, this event brought together Calgary’s elite and huge sponsors. The magical event took place at Devonian Gardens, transformed into a magical forest with ambient and fashion show music from the orchestra’s finest.

WineCollective donated a variety of wines to the event’s huge raffle prize, valued at $2,000 with gifts from Craft Beer Market, Big Surf, Anējo and Lake Breeze wines. Highfield donated all of the spirits for the pre-event and fashion show after party.

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For our participation, Calgary Philharmonic spoiled us with four VIP tickets to the gala! After a quick contest, WineCollective member Michelle B and guest, joined Amber and Larissa for the evening.

We’d like to thank CPO for having us and giving us the opportunity to take part! Next year, we hope to be back with more donations and creative ideas (involving wine of course!) to further inspire this enchanting fundraiser.