Wine Tasting and Tour at Lulu Island Winery, Richmond


I have always wanted to try icewine.  So, I organized a wine tasting with the group of friends who had dim sum at Neptune Seafood Restaurant recently. I cannot tolerate alcohol at all as my face will flare up just with a few tasting. That’s why I cannot drive if I want to go for any wine tasting. Fortunately, Emily S is a regular drinker and she has no problem with just a few tasting. So, we met up at South Arm Community Center and car pooled to Lulu Island Winery with Emily S as the designated driver.

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The above is the Riesling Chardonnay white icewine which comes in 2 sizes. The 200ml bottle is $37.00 while the 375ml bottle is $69.00. The icewine is really sweet and is considered as dessert wine. It is meant to be enjoyed a little at a time. I really like it.

Do you know that icewine is trademarked as a single word in Canada?

The icewines from Lulu Island winery has the VQA stamp which is a guarantee that you’re purchasing 100% BC Wine. BC VQA is an Äppellation of Origin” system that guarantees authenticity of origin and stipulates minimum quality standards for Canadian wines.

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Lulu Island Winery is the gold award winner of Öther Icewines” category of the All Canadian Wine Championships 2011. We were told that only BC and Ontario produce icewine due to the some specific requirements. White icewine needs at least 24 hours of temperature of 8 degrees Celsius below zero before the grapes can be harvested for making icewine. For red icewine, it needs to be -14C for at least 24 hours. German and Austria are the only other European countries that produce white icewine. Canada is the only country in the world that produce red icewine. There are only 5 wineries in BC and 6 in Ontario that produce icewines.

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Lulu Island Winery is located at 16880 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, east of No. 7 Road.

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Lulu Island Winery was the China House during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver which hosted the Chinese Olympic committee during the game.

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Lulu Island Winery has a 13 acres vineyard on the premises. The type of grapes planted here is Orange Muscat, a dessert variety. The vineyard is only in its 3rd year and not ready for harvest yet. It takes usually 4.5 to 5 years for the grape vines to mature.

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The growth rate is slow here in Richmond. Grape vines need at least 8 hours of sunshine daily for a good growth. Grape vines also need very good drainage which is why we usually see vineyard in a valley. The vineyard here is made possible by embedding a layer of hay below the soil to create better drainage. We were told that the grapes in this vineyard will not be able to be used for making icewine as it’s not cold enough here. The wine produced at Lulu Island Winery are made from grapes from the Okanagan Valley. Lulu Island Winery is the newest and largest winery in Richmond.

I intended to book a VIP private group wine tasting initially like this but it was sold out. We just went for a walk in tasting. For walk in tasting, it is better to go early i.e. before noon when they are not so busy. The tour buses usually arrive after noon when it gets really busy.

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We were served crackers and cheese to go with the tasting.

Lulu-Island-Winery-2On the left: Carbernet Franc (2009).

This is a medium-bodied wine with a soft but distinct tannins. It has a fruity scent and a strong pepper finish.

750ml for $24.95.

On the right: Meritage (2009).

This is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Carbernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It has an oak scent to it as it is aged in oak barrels.

750ml for $31.95.

We learned that red wine is served in room temperature. It is usually tart and rich in antioxidant.

Lulu-Island-Winery-1Pinot Gris (2010).

This is a newly launched white wine. It has rich fruity flavours of melon, apple, peach and lemon-lime and a citrusy aroma. This is great with salad or any white meat from fish, shellfish to chicken and pork.This is refreshing and it feels sweeter than the red wines that we tried earlier.

750ml for $22.95.

White wine is usually served chilled and so it’s popular in summer.

Lulu-Island-Winery-9We learned a new word today in wine tasting glossary. i.e. legs. Legs is the tracks of liquid that cling to the sides of a glass after the contents have been swirled.
Lulu-Island-Winery-3Gewurztraminer (2009).

This is the hardest to pronounced. It’s a German name. This has the aroma of lychee and passion fruit. It is sweeter with a sweetness of 3.

750ml for $16.75.

By the way the prices here are net, i.e. no tax to be added on and no bottle fee.

Lulu-Island-Winery-5Cranberry (2010).

We also tasted some fruit wines. This Cranberry wine has a beautiful bright cranberry colour. This is really tart. For those who do not like it too tart, you can dilute it with some sprite.

Cranberries are harvested right here in Richmond. Cranberries are good for prevention of kidney infections.

500ml for $16.95

 

Lulu-Island-Winery-7Passion Fruit Wine (2010).

This is imported from Taiwan. This is sweet and tart at the same time.

500ml for $18.95

Lulu-Island-Winery-11Merlot Pinot Noir 2007 (Red Icewine).

Before we were given the icewine for tasting, we were served water to cleanse our palate.

When we did the tasting the wines earlier, we were asked to smell first with our nose for the aroma. But for icewine, we were asked to inhale with the mouth opened. This way, the aroma is much stronger.

This red icewine has the aroma of rose. It is very sweet with sweetness of 21 compare to 0 or 1 for most white and red wines.

Regular wine is good for 7 days after opening but for icewine, it will lasts for one month.

Red icewine is not produced every year as it requires -14C for a continuous 24 hours before the grapes can be harvested for making icewine. It’s a risk the vineyard has to take.  If the weather is not conducive, all the grapes will be wasted.

375ml for $95.00

 

Lulu-Island-Winery-28Lulu Island Winery gives away this wine bottle opener for free when you buy 3 bottles of 200ml white icewine or any 2 bottles of 375ml icewine. The good thing about this bottle opener is it does not damage the cork. It’s not for sale though.
Lulu-Island-Winery-4For someone like me who cannot drink much, this wine saver set comes handy. It comes with two bottle caps and a pump. Once a wine bottle is opened, it’s good for 7 days only. What this wine saver set does is it helps to remove the air from the bottle after opening. This keeps the wine good for longer. This is available for $15.

After the wine tasting, we were given a short tour of the facilities.

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We saw some oak barrels and more modern tanks with temperature control for the fermentation process. The time for fermentation depends on the fruit. For example, blueberry juice will be fermented in the tanks for 3 weeks and filter a few times and aged for at least 3 months before bottling. Lulu Island Winery is the pioneer who makes blueberry wine. It is so popular that it’s sold out and the next batch will only available in a few months time. We were told that they had just made a batch of blueberry wine the day before our visit.

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Lulu Island Winery also has a big hall for rental for celebration like wedding, etc.

By the way, Lulu Island Winery offers free shipping to countries like Taiwan and China. A minimum of CAD300 of any wine or one case of icewines will qualify for the free shipping. Taiwan only takes 1 to 2 days for delivery while China needs 7 days.

Lulu Island Winery opens 7 days a week from 10:00AM to 6:30PM. Major credit cards are accepted.

Below is a short video of how the icewine bottle opener works. Sorry for the bad angle.

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