Picking Grapes is a new series that asks wine professionals to map out their complex relationships with BC wines by citing the ignition point of their interest and some of their favorite wineries.
You already know Simon Fallick as co-owner of Hero’s Welcome and The American; but what you can do not Be aware that he’s also partly responsible for the killer wine selection at Grab & Go (the American’s off-sale side business), as well as one of the people behind the Open Ferment (and soon to be -be wine fair) – making him a natural choice to align our Pick the grapes questions…
Which BC wine did you first fall in love with? Do you remember where you were? What were the circumstances?
Lock & Worth – Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon. It was around the time I was getting married and we were talking about what kind of wine we wanted to have for dinner. We were at our friend Todd Prucyk’s house, and I remember he pulled out a bottle and was so excited about it. Todd has an incredible knowledge of wine and really has a knack for talking about it in a very approachable and engaging way. I think my love and appreciation for wine really started that night.
1060 Poplar Grove Road, Penticton, BC
Which local winery are you most looking forward to visiting and why?
A Sunday in August. I sort of cheated here because it doesn’t fully exist yet, but owner Mike and his partner just acquired land on Salt Spring Island with the intention of starting a vineyard and orchard. I think Mike has really succeeded in creating accessible and fun wines that are presented in such a beautiful and colorful way. I really can’t wait to see what they will put in place in the next few years.
Supporting British Columbia small businesses has become especially important these days. We know it’s hard to narrow it down, but if you had to choose only three local wineries that you think particularly deserve our attention, who would you choose?
I feel like Ursa Major’s 2021 was pretty much unmatched in terms of quality and creativity in their offerings.
We really enjoy working with the people at Plot Wines, and I think their wines are very fresh and unique.
I’ll add Sage Hills to it so I can give Neon Eon and Keenan wines some love too.
4078 Black Sage Road, Oliver, BC
18555 Matsu Drive, Summerland
Over the past two years, has your approach to buying and/or serving and tasting wine changed in any way? If so, how?
When the pandemic hit and we had to pivot the American to takeout and delivery only, it created an opportunity for us to build and establish our wine selection. Those first few months helped me develop my understanding and appreciation of wine, and gave us the opportunity to connect with our community to find out what people liked and what they were passionate about. In many ways, it confirmed a lot of what I had previously thought about wine, that people really want to get into it, but don’t know where to start. The food that Doug and the team at DL Burgers pairs so perfectly with the wines that we sell, and because the environment is so laid back, it really helps create an experience where we can connect with people over wine and food in a meaningful way. .
This experience played a big role in what we started to bring and how we talked about wine. The mindset was very much about organic and natural wines, but we wanted to present them in a way that no matter who walked through the door, they could feel the experience was accessible and fun. I tried to integrate this philosophy into what we did with Open Ferment. We hope that at some point this year we can organize a great wine market event (similar to what you will find in Europe) which aims to create a very fun and inviting atmosphere, whatever your level of knowledge .
What kind of changes, if any, do you think the local wine industry – from wine lovers and servers to producers and distributors – might see in the future?
It feels like wine culture is really starting to change and the push towards natural and organic wines isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Last year I hosted a pop-up wine event with Derek Duncan (Pacific Rhythm) at The Ellis Building called Open Ferment, and it was great to see so many people who were just getting into wine and were delighted to discover new producers and try different grape varieties. I think that’s reflected in the number of places that opened locally last year with a focus on natural wine. Right in our neighborhood is Pizza Coming Soon, Bar Gobo and Thank You Pizza which all have a great selection and great staff who can talk wine in a very welcoming and fun way.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the coin, I think the supply chain issues we’re seeing around the world are going to catch up with the industry this year. Surlie’s Pete Marshall has done a great job explaining this on his Instagram page for the past few months. International shipping logistics issues and damage from the Okanagan fires, combined with intense heat, will significantly impact product quality, pricing and availability for years to come.
What is one versatile BC wine you recommend to pair with this season?
Synchromesh – 2018 Cachola Cab Franc. We’ve always tried to orient our wine selection towards accessibility and crowd pleaser, and I feel like this wine personifies both of those qualities. You can put it in any social situation or next to any meal and it will suit you.
4220 McLean Creek Road, Okanagan Falls, BC
If you could work at just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
Echo Bay. We were able to visit the winery a few summers ago and had a great experience. Rigor & Whimsy and Else Wines are also produced there. We got to hang out with Else’s winemaker, Kelsey, and try some of her wines, and I honestly can’t say enough good things about them. In my opinion, the wines she makes can be put alongside some of the best things from Europe. Spending a harvest in such a beautiful place and with people who make such interesting and exciting wines to drink would be an incredible experience.
224 Eastside Road, Okanagan Falls, BC
Can you recommend a local, iconic BC red wine to someone who didn’t even know we made wine here? Why did you choose it?
Syrah from Nichol Vineyard. I’ve rated Okanagan Syrah among the best in the world, and as far as I’m concerned, Nichol is the best place to start. The offers of old and young vines are impressive.
1285 Smethurst Road, Naramata, BC
And a white?
Scout Vineyard Riesling. The Scout wines are all so crisp and fresh, but I think the Riesling – especially their most recent launch – is truly standout.
Similkameen Valley, BC
And finally, a rose?
Cheek Rose of Averill Creek. There is something about this wine that is so unique and a great expression of the creativity of the BC wine scene.
6552 North Road, Duncan, BC