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B.C. wine rises from the ashes

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The past couple of weeks have been quite the roller coaster ride for British Columbia wineries. Of course, the wildfires in West Kelowna and surrounding areas have been at the forefront of residents' minds; with highways re-opened and most of the fires contained or extinguished, people are now returning to their homes and trying to get their lives in order.

What they may not have known is that the equivalent of wine royalty was burning her way through the region on her first ever trip to the Okanagan Valley. British wine writer/critic Jancis Robinson has been working her way through some North American wine regions, and arrived in the Okanagan late Monday for a whirlwind tour and tastings.

A consultant working with some British Columbia wineries sent an update of Jancis' activities, stating she dined Monday night on a gazebo at the Jackson-Triggs' Sunrock vineyard with some of the B.C. wine industry's bigwigs. The next day she tasted through over 80 wines from over 40 wineries, then headed for the U.S. yesterday. From her Twitter yesterday morning:

"Heading for US border (eek) after day tasting much-improved BC wines. Okanagan fires out by pm y'day. Just a bit blurred (smoke/80+ wines)."

Why should you care? Robinson is among the world's leading wine writers/critics, and a positive article on the Okanagan could translate into a big boost for the region.

* * *

My article in Saturday's paper tackles sangria — a delicious drink made from red wine, fruit, brandy (or reasonable facsimile) and soda (or equivalent). Send your sangria recipes to uncorked@mts.net and I'll post 'em here. Also, I'm interested in hearing who you think makes the best sangria in town (restaurants, bars, etc.). I've had a couple votes for Fude Inspired Cuisine and Wine Bar  — who else makes a memorable sangria?

Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WFPuncorked

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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