From Alberta farms, to the corporate world, to 40 Knots Winery. It has been a journey well-travelled for Brenda Hetman-Craig, co-owner, 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery.
One can sense Brenda is an Alberta girl before she speaks. The direct gaze, and the wholesomeness of her personality is quintessential prairie characteristics. There is an Alberta farm pride, and a respect for the land, mingled with an awe for their Vancouver Island estate, 40 Knots Winery.
Ever since the family assumed ownership in 2014, their quest is to have 40 Knots Vineyard gain the Demeter Biodynamic certification, and thus they adhere to all the practices required to attain their goal.
“At 40 Knots Winery, we are very cognizant of our impact on the environment. We only have one earth and we intend on leaving it better than we found it for our grandchildren,” said Brenda Hetman-Craig.
This is not an ideal, this is a farmer’s practicality…better wines result from natural-growing grapes, which are less susceptible to disease, and cost less overall.
From Alberta farms, to the corporate world, to 40 Knots Winery, it has been a journey well-travelled. The adventure continues with viticulture, fermentations, and new wines exclusive to 40 Knots Winery. Wine-pairing dinners are held in the beautiful courtyard during the warmer months. Dining in the courtyard, surrounded by that peaceful easy feeling of their stunning vineyard is quite a memorable experience for guests.
One of their dinners, held during the BC Seafood Festival, was titled the following:
Terroir Meets Merroir – Long table dinner.
Terroir Meets Merroir, taste the merriment of the two among the vines while seated in the Vineyard Terrace at a long table.
The dinner menu was created by Chex Vous – a local well known catering company – using ingredients grown in the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island area. Wines of 40 Knots Winery paired beautifully with the dishes.
Canapés – Albacore Tuna/Compressed Watermelon Skewers
Dungeness Crab Salad Gougéres
Smoked Salmon Mousse Devilled Egg
Served with 40 Knots Rosé
Salmon, tuna and crab. What a great introduction to the fresh seafood offered up by the sea on Vancouver Island. The boldness of the tuna and the summery watermelon paired well with the delicate tannins and crisp finish of this Rosé, while the natural sweetness of the crabmeat and salmon complimented the tang of the wine.
Dungeness Crab and Side Stripe Shrimp/Sorrel/Snap Peas/Confit Tomato/Beurre Blanc
Served with 40 Knots Pinot Gris
Butter, crab, shrimp, the sheer richness of all three together is the epitome of decadence. The bits of crunch from the peas added lovely texture, while the acidity of the sorrel reduced the richness enough to make each mouthful one smooth bite.
The Pinot Gris brought to mind the vision of an apples-and-pears orchard, where the fruits were sweetened by the warmth of the sun.
Gallo Mussels/Manilla Clams/Greens/Fennel/40 Knots Chardonnay Sabayon
Served with 40 Knots Chardonnay
This fresh as a summer’s day salad with the bountiful gifts of ocean and land had a symbiosis most chefs strive for. The mussels and clams were plump and fresh as the sea, while the just-plucked salad and wisps of fennel made this dish both lavish and delicate.
The chardonnay was the perfect pairing with its exacting amounts of dryness and fruitiness to complete the Island’s taste-experience.
Wild Mushroom Fricassé/Beets/Poultry Jus
Served with 40 Knots Pinot Noir 115
This was a very gentle fricassé, which is fitting dish for a balmy summer’s evening. The fresh silken sablefish was delicate and made a lovely combination with the firm and earthy beets, and umami-rich jus.
The Pinot Noir, although a multi-faceted and a well thought out wine on its own, I found the depth of this wine was a bit too much for the delicate fish.
Garlic Scape/Pomme Purée/Carrots/Radishes/Thyme Jus
Served with 40 Knots Stall Speed Meritage
Beef cheeks simmered and stewed in its own umami-rich flavours, served with creamy garlic scape mash, crunchy root vegetables and the scent of thyme herbs were all brilliant together.
The Meritage is just as rich and delicious with dark fruits, cured wood, and the earthy aromas of tobacco. The heavy and smooth mouthfeel of the wine was symbiotic with the lushness of the beef cheeks. A perfect pairing, perfect.
Chez Vous French Vanilla Glace
Served with 40 Knots 2017 Pinot Gris Botrytis Trie Emily
This dessert was reminiscent of an Alberta’s summer treat, that time of year just when the rhubarb is getting juiciest, and the strawberries are weighing down the bushes. Stewed and cradled in a buttery tart, served alongside a simple vanilla ice cream and drizzled in a decadent red caramel made a lovely presentation and a divine mouthful.
The Pinot Gris Botrytis is a complex wine, not quite an ice wine nor a dessert wine, but with the complexity of both that finishes like a softly-aged port. This wine is so good, it should be a dessert of its own.
Stay tuned for the many ways I have served this lovely 40 Knots wine.
About the chef, and the producers:
Chez Vous Chef – Alain Chabot was born in a small farming community in Central Alberta. Early in life he was exposed to the most important thing in cooking great food: fresh ingredients. Chez Vous is now located in the Comox Valley where the rich soil produces fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, honey and wines. Plus, fresh seafood all year long.
Below are the farms Chez Vous worked with:
Pattison Farms – Gerry and Dagmar Pattison have been operating their Certified Organic family farm since 1998. At Pattison Farms, food is grown in rich soils using traditional hand planting and hand harvesting methods. They offer a large variety of fresh vegetables such as Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Beans, Broccoli and Cauliflower, Sweet and Hot Peppers, Lettuces, Carrots, Garlic, Onions, Summer and Winter Squash, Chard and more.
Kehler Farms – Kehler Vegetable Company is a small mixed market farm of vegetables berries and pasture raised eggs located on a 20-acre farm in the Comox Valley.
Clever Crow – Lots of naturally flavoured Clever Crow sea salts in jars and travel tins, plus seasonings like, taco, steak, Dukka, and Comox Bay seasoning.
Amara Farm – A certified organic farm, selling vegetables, blueberries, garlic and more. Check them out here.
Shorewolf Farm – Located in Black Creek, BC, grows it all, check out their Instagram @shorewolffarm
Fiesta Farms – Max and Karen Grober started Fiesta Greenhouses in 1999 on ½ acre of their 12-acre property on York Road south of Campbell River. Today, they have a total of 1½ acres of pesticide-free greenhouse operation. They grow coloured peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes, and hothouse eggplants.
Natural Pastures – As third generation farmers on Vancouver Island, Natural Pastures understand how fresh, local ingredients lead to traditional and inspired artisan cheese. When unique Island flavours are creatively blended with European cheese making traditions, the result can only be award-winning artisan cheese.
Gunter Brothers – A family-owned and operated meat processing business that specialises in local meats, sausages, and custom orders. Gunter Brothers in Courtenay, BC.
B&C Foods (Ocean Wise seafood) – Operates three separate butcher shops within our local warehouse, red meat, poultry and seafood. Check them out here.