the vineyards of the fraser valley: accompanied by crackers and wintersleep.

My Saturday took an unexpected turn this weekend. I transited out to Langley, bags slung across my back, like a weighed down Indiana Jones (there was only standing room but of course I insisted on reading and looking ridiculous) ready for adventure. I was expecting to go on a rugged undertaking with friends, through mountains, forests, and fields to a cabin tucked into the countryside some five hours away from here. However, due to some amazing coordination on the part of my friend group, we ended up staying in Langley. As one of my deciding-to-non-cabin-voyage friends worked, she lent me her car, and I embarked on a very-un-rough-adventure: a wine tour. Really, what else is there to do by yourself on a Saturday in Langley? It was very logical.
My first stop was the Fort Langley Wine Co., near the town itself. This little area, in the boggy recesses of the Fraser Valley situated near the river, is full of fruit; houses look like they are floating on a sea of blueberry bushes, creating waves as they sway in the wind. There is something refreshing about driving through these calm rural hills; I feel as if I have come back to what I know, what I am comfortable with - it resonates with me so much more than the city.
I cautiously walked up to the front of the room and asked if I could, to quote, "taste some wine". Abashedly, I admitted my lack of knowledge concerning this nectar of the gods and no experience whatsoever with wine tasting (although it is a tradition dating back almost 8000 years!). I need not have been worried - she kindly handed me a brochure and told me about wineries that were even off the beaten path. Lovely people work at the Wine Co.

It was interesting to start off my adventure with fruit wine. I'm not generally a big fan of anything other than grape-based wine, mostly for the fact that its too sweet for my liking. However, this was the only winery close to Fort Langley for only fruit wine can be made close to the river - if grapes were grown in the bog, they would just rot. The other wineries are further away, closer to the border with the states.
I tried the Red Cranberry Mighty Fraser wine, the Blackberry Isle Queen port-style wine, and the Blueberry Valley Girl wine. The last one was my favorite as it was the least sweet of them all - it was almost merlot-ish.
I continued on my way, over to the soil that was condusive for growing grapes. As I drove, I felt as if I was crossing Canada all over again: the landscape kept changing, evolving, the sunlight played across my face, while good acoustic music accompanied the whistling wind from the window.
Try driving the long stretches beside the Fraser River while listening to "Weighty Ghost" by Wintersleep. Please, please do. Turn your face up to the sun. Let your soul soar, and your hand play with the wind rushing outside the window, intertwining your fingers with the air. Smile.
 My next stop was Lotusland Vineyard - our local organic vineyard (there had to be at least one on this adventure! I had to be hip!). Lotusland has an interesting background - they literally shipped in organic soil to cover an old quarry and create a pesticide-free place to grow grapes. Their Zwiegelt is quite popular, they hardly had any bottles left, and so I couldn't try it (Unfortunately! With a name like that, I would have liked to!). I tried their Pinot Noir (which would go well with a more 'rich' meal I would think, it was lovely and dry), their Merlot (which was medium-bodied), and their Girlsrmeaner (I'm trying to like white wine). I liked the Merlot the best, it would have been good with pasta (I think! Don't take my word for any of this, I'm just going on instinct, no knowledge whatsoever).
My next stop was my 'classiest'. And the best wine by far. Oh my goodness, it was good.

Blackwood Lane brings their grapes in specially from the Okanagan valley - that way they are still providing outstanding wine, yet are located closer to Vancouver-based consumers.  The Chardonnay here is what convinced me to enjoy white wine - it is lovely. A deep, rich yellow, it is also gorgeous. Their Alliance is also a spectacular red. They don't filter their reds, so they may have some more sediment and not be as clear as other reds, but the taste is lovely. This winery was definitely the highlight of my day.
Next was the oldest winery in the Fraser Valley: Domaine de Chaberton. Started by a frenchman and his wife in the 1970s (after they sold their winery in France and moved over here), they not only became the most well-established and largest winery, but also began (and continue) to win medals for their lovely wine. They have two labels, Canoe Cove and Chaberton Estate. I tried the Canoe Cove Shiraz, the Chaberton un-oaked Chardonnay, and the Chaberton Cabernet Sauvignon. I really liked the Shiraz, and would have liked to try the Canoe Cove Cab-Sauv, but it was sold out!
Next on my list was Township 7 (an apt name for its location in Langley, yet they also have a winery in the Okanagan Valley). I would say that this had the second best wine that I tasted all day, and lovely staff.
I tried a Chardonnay (though delightful, nothing could be as good as the one that I tried before), Semillion, Rose, Cab Sauvignon, Reserve, and Syrah.
My last stop was Neck of the Woods Winery - a lovely venue and the best looking website out of any of them. 
I tried the Chardonnay, Meritage (which I adored!), Gamay Noir, and (the standard) Merlot. All great wines, especially for their price.  The Meritage (which is an odd name, I know) is a popular North American blend.
At the end of the day, all I purchased was a small bottle of blueberry wine (mom, I'm bringing this home for you and I to share), but the knowledge I gained was exponential in its value. I only hope I retain it (and apply it to pairings with the meals I make). But I know I won't. What's a Chardonnay again?! 

If you're as completely clueless as I am, even after my adventure, try clicking here and reading a bit.

Pray. Sip. Enjoy with friends. Listen to "Weighty Ghost".