In June the Euro Cup was held in Poland and the Ukraine. You wouldn’t think this is a big deal to a bunch of Canadians who didn’t even qualify, but here at Blue Mountain Vineyards it was. This year we have 3 staff members from Germany and one from Poland. I myself have a British/Dutch heritage so soccer or football as they call it in Europe was very much a part of growing up. Needless to say the discussions around the lunch table and the interaction between the guys in the cellar and the office staff were pretty focused on the games. It made it kind of fun to all unite around a common subject. Sport. Sadly none of our teams won but we enjoyed giving each other a hard time and commiserating when our teams were eliminated.
Two of our Euro Contingent are permanent staff. Tomasz from Poland who does restaurant and retail sales in the Okanagan as well as helping in the office and tasting room and doing a lot of packing. Felix is also here on a more permanent basis as well and makes up part of the German trio. Felix assists Matt with the winemaking and Christoph and Christine are here on internships until the end of harvest. Christoph is working in the cellar and the vineyard and Christine is helping us in the office and the tasting room. As part of our conversations I thought it might be interesting to get to know these Euro staffers a little better and so I asked them a few questions. Here is what they had to say.
How did you become interested in wine?
Tomasz: I first got introduced to red wine back in Poland, around 12 - 13 years ago. At that time there was almost nothing available so when I arrived in Canada 10 years ago I was pleasantly surprised to see all the wine from around the world.
Christine: I was raised on my parents wine estate so I became familiar with working in the vineyard and cellar. I also represented my village as a wine princess and decided to study International Wine Business.
Felix: My grandpa and uncle farm vineyards in Germany. As a little boy I already helped out in the vineyards.
Christoph: Grew up in a traditional wine region and worked at my parent’s winery.
Favorite wine region in the world?
Tomasz: I haven’t seen that many places, but I think I like the border of Spain and France.
Christine: There are lots of great wine growing regions and to my mind each is individual and fascinating. There are nice regions in Germany like Pfalz (palatinate), Baden especially the Lake Constance area and the Douro Valley in Portugal and of course the Okanagan Valley.
Felix: The Pfalz in Germany. The second largest wine region with 23,000 ha and the most beautiful. The world’s best Rieslings come from there.
Christoph: Wurttemberg, Germany
Favorite grape varietal and why?
Tomasz: Chardonnay because it is so beautiful and so underrated nowadays.
Christine: I really like Riesling because this grape is so changeable. This means that you can produce brilliant dry wines which can be fruity or have mineral qualities, on the other hand it is possible to create great sweet and noble sweet wines. Riesling has great flavours of green apple, peach, grapefruit and a high acidity which leads to a fresh wine.
Christoph: Riesling - There are many different styles and types are possible. Typical for Germany you can find it anywhere in Germany.
Felix: Definitely Riesling. No other variety is so versatile and expresses the terroir like Riesling does.
What you like best about being in the Okanagan?
Tomasz: Once the summer arrives, there is no better place to be in the world. First class outdoor activities, mountains, wine, lakes...everything is here.
Christine: Friendly people and customers, beautiful landscapes and nice weather.
Christoph:The friendly, helpful and relaxed people.
Felix: Meeting new and interesting people. Beautiful landscape and good wine.
What do you miss most from home besides your family?
Tomasz: Homemade perogies and white borsch over smoked sausage.
Christine: German breakfast, driving without a speed limit.
Christoph: My fantastic friends!
Felix: Beer, sausage and sauerkraut and my girlfriend of course.
What do you hope to learn from your experience at Blue Mountain Winery?
Christine: To get an insight into the Canadian way of producing and selling wine and the wine market. To get to know some new wines with a different style.
Christoph: How to produce high quality wines and how to manage all of the important sequences of work. Also to improve my English.
Felix: To make good wine, getting more independent and more experience. To gain insight into a successful run winery.
So if you see them in the tasting room or out on a tractor say hi or give them a wave. They are happy to share their experiences and talk with visitors. Thank you to all of our Euro connection for being such great sports. I am sure we will learn as much from them as they are learning with their Canadian experience. Hopefully their time here will leave them with a soft spot in their hearts for Canada in the future. Go Canada go!