I had a great visit with Mark Timmermans from Beaufort winery earlier this month. There has been so much news coming out from Hollywood, of all places remote from the Comox Valley, that it’s easy to forget the wines. What about the wines? I don’t pretend to be an expert but I love a good wine and I’m curious about the future of the valley’s best winery.
I wanted a chance to speak with Mark about the direction Beaufort will take going forward. Will all our favorites be available? Will I still be able to have a bottle with my meal at one of the valley’s great restaurants? Will Susan and Jeff have any involvement with Beaufort? There were other questions as well and he was gracious enough to spend some time with me even though the demands of the position he now occupies must be manifold.
So, what is happening with Beaufort? According to Mark this, their first year under new management, will be “business as usual” while getting to know the winery and it’s vines and systems. Continuity is key in order to maintain the high standards set by Susan and Jeff Vandermolen. Mark wants his customers to know that he appreciates and values the amazing talent and work the Vandermolens brought to the winery.
Mark speaks to this in the interview, “The opportunity appealed to me quite a bit because Jeff and Susan were willing and able to be available and were still interested in helping us with the wine making.” On the challenges of maintaining the legacy started by Susan and Jeff and the benefits of the Vandermolen’s assistance: “ When you’re taking on a new business that people have invested their life in for the last seven or eight years you need that extra help.”
There is no doubt that what Mark is saying here is sincere and coming from the heart. The awards and accolades (70 national and international awards), speak volumes as does Mark when it comes to his praise of Susan and Jeff. “Susan’s skills as a wine maker are well known now… all the awards and attention that has come to the winery is because of that”. I believe the truth of that comes through in the tasting as well. Susan and Jeff are indeed returning to Beaufort to help with this year’s harvest and with the wine making. This is great news because the talent and skill these fine folks bring to their craft is second to none and it will surely guarantee a smooth transition to new management.
It’s well known that the new owners of Beaufort Winery favour a plant based, organic diet and that their new manager comes from a background of organic and sustainable agriculture. Mark headed up the organic farm program at Providence farm in the Cowichan Valley; a future story for Communal Beat I think. I asked him whether Beaufort was considering becoming an organic operation: “Definitely organic practices is one of the values we want to go forward with, even around soil fertility and all of the horticulture and viticulture practices”. I asked what the timeline was going forward: “ We’re in it, even with weed management, I have the Weed Badger on the tractor right now”. I looked it up, a Weed Badger is a between-the-row tilling attachment that fits on a small tractor, no chemical weed control necessary.
So, I think that’s great. I love the idea of organic farming and believe it to be the way of the future. It’s good to know that the birds and the bees will be able to thrive at Beaufort and that folks with the commitment to a healthy and sustainable vision to food security are coming to the valley.
So, how do we get the wine? I highly recommend you go to the winery, (5854 Pickering Rd, Courtenay. 250-338-1357 www.beaufortwines.ca) and enjoy a great tasting experience with the wine makers themselves. Beaufort winery’s tasting room and store is open until the end of August on Friday and Saturday noon to five PM. The widest selection is available at the winery, including the 2012 “Big Nose Red” and the full bodied white 2013 “Qandisa”, but Select Whites and Reds are available at local liquor stores. Mark has also worked with your favorite restaurants to ensure you can enjoy Beaufort wines there as well.
As to pairing Beaufort wine with a summer meal? Multi award-winning Beaufort Winery is a gem for those of us who care about such things as an excellent wine paired with the perfect dish; a pairing that can create that alchemic “greater than the sum of its parts” experience. So then, how about the delicious and pronounceable Beaufort G’Wurtz paired with a steaming, garlicky and grilled plate of local Spot Prawns? For you vegetarians out there, a glass of Beaufort’s rich 2011 Malbec/Merlot blend, (M&M), will pair well with a marinated veggie BBQ. I like to make a semi-sweet/very spicy marinade and place my asparagus and mushrooms in a bag with the marinade overnight then straight onto the grill the next day. For zucchini and eggplant I like to brush the marinade while the veg are on the grill allowing the sauce to drip into the flames, adding a smoky flavor. If you love BBQ’d corn on the cob try peeling back, but not removing, the husk. Clear out the silk and close the husk up over the corn again. Then, soak the corn in water for several hours and put it back onto the grill 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Try the corn Mexican style with fresh-squeezed lime and chili flakes or cayenne. Delicious!
See you at the winery!
I asked several of the excellent restaurants here in the valley to help Communal Beat celebrate new beginnings for Beaufort by sharing with us their favorite dishes, recipes and all, that either use Beaufort wine in the creation of the dish or that will pair well with it. The reception to this idea was amazing! Recipes from the chefs to all your favorite restaurants are available at Communal Beat under “real food”!