Northernlands : The Great Canadian Wine and Craft Beer Adventure

Treve’s Travels
by Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Earlier this spring, all wine, beer and spirit routes led to Edmonton. Yes, Edmonton. Over 60 craft producers from coast to coast headed to our country’s belly to share wares, feast well and collaborate on ideas. The sprouted brainchild of the city’s wine guru, and past WineAlign national judge Gurvinder Bhatia, Northernlands transformed the bustling city into a Canadian food and wine nexus. For a few days, Edmonton was THE place to learn about, taste, drink our boozy bounty and feast on our culinary riches, all the while raising funds for the High School Culinary Challenge and the Edmonton Community Foundation Grateful Palate Fund.

Anyone who knows Gurvinder – and is there anyone in the industry that doesn’t know this popular television / radio / magazine / retail personality and amaro promoter? – knows that his vision is only matched by his commitment. I shouldn’t have been so surprised then, when this inaugural festival was so complete and organized and so well attended by presenters and consumers. I was able to participate both behind the scenes as a wine judge (which I can attest to is an entire event in itself) and a seminar presenter (let’s do some food and wine mythbusting, plus a look at Canadian sparkling coast to coast) as well as a public imbiber at the main Meet Your Makers event (another freestanding, massive event to coordinate and execute, including a kick ass ping pong tournament!)


The fact that Gurvinder organized and orchestrated both of these, as well as wine dinners with guest and local chefs for 800 consumers (!!) around the city of Edmonton, as well as a series of public educational wine and food seminars – over the space of a few short days – still leaves me gobsmacked, and entirely impressed with his vision and his close knit team of family and friends who supported him.

“As a first year festival we were very pleased on a number of levels”, reflects Gurvinder a few days post event. “Only a handful of the 800 seats at 20 producer dinners occurring simultaneously around the city on the Friday night were not filled, over 800 guests (with another 200 on the waitlist) attended the Meet Your Makers event on the Saturday night and the majority of the seminars were either sold out or close to sold out. Most importantly, by the response I’ve received from the participating wine producers, craft breweries, chefs, national and international judges/journalists and guests, we’ve taken significant steps in the right direction to achieve the festival’s mandate which is to raise the profile of the Canadian wine and culinary industries nationally and internationally; celebrate the individuals responsible for the innovation and quality evolution of the Canadian wine, craft beverage and culinary industries; bring producers and chefs together from coast to coast and create opportunities for discussion and collaboration; help to evolve the wine and culinary culture of our community and country; bring attention to Edmonton as a culinary destination; and raise funds for two very important community charitable organizations.”

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Indeed, the sunny spring weekend left attendees and participants on a high – a welcome and encompassing, high quality festival that encourages participation and collaboration and helps to make quality Canadian wines more familiar and accessible to the general population.

Of course, Gurvinder’s vision doesn’t end here. “I am hoping that we can grow the event to encourage even greater participation from producers across the country and encourage attendance from guests across not just western Canada, but the entire country, north-western United States and even beyond. I’d like to get greater involvement from the trade, both locally and across the region. I’d also like to expand the number of international judges/journalists invited to accelerate the global exposure of the Canadian wine, craft beverage and culinary industries. We can be proud of what our country is producing. We need to let the rest of the world know and we also need to have outside eyes helping to let us know where we stand compared to the rest of the world.”

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The plan for the next instalment would be for two years from now, and once all the feedback and financials are tallied, Gurvinder will make the final decision later this year. He notes, “If the initial response is any indication (the producers have to see the value in what we are trying to accomplish with respect to the big picture in order for the festival to continue), we will make every effort to do it again.”

And if Gurvinder envisions Northernlands in 2017, you should clear your calendar now.


The Wine Competition saw just under 200 entries from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia, and was judged by a panel of Canadian and International judges over a period of two days. The category winners, and my personal tasting notes, are below:


Best Red Wine: Road 13 Jackpot Syrah 2011, Okanagan Valley BC

Best White Wine : Tawse Sketches Riesling 2013, Niagara Peninsula Ontario

Best Sticky : Henry of Pelham Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2013, Ontario

Runner Up : Tawse Winery Riesling Icewine 2013, Niagara Peninsula

Best Bubbles : Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling 2013, Twenty Mile Bench Ontario

Runner Up : Henry of Pelham Family Estate Cuvee Catharine Brut NV, Niagara Peninsula Ontario

Benjamin Bridge Brut 2009, Gaspereau Valley Nova Scotia 


Best Merlot : 8th Generation Vineyard 2012, Okanagan Valley BC

Runner Up : Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Oldfield Series 2011, Okanagan Valley BC

Best Red Blend : Clos du Soleil Celestiale 2012, British Columbia

Runner Up : Road 13 Fifth Element 2011, Okanagan BC

Best Pinot Noir : Meyer Family Vineyards ‘McLean Creek Vineyard’ 2013, Okanagan Valley

Runner Up : JoieFarm Winery 2012, Okanagan BC

Best Cabernet Franc : Burrowing Owl 2011, Okanagan BC

Runner Up : Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery 2012, Okanagan BC

Best Syrah : Road 13 Jackpot 2011, Okanagan BC

Runner Up : Church and State Winery Coyote Bowl 2011, Okanagan BC

Best Pinot Gris : Lake Breeze Vineyards 2014, Okanagan BC

Runner Up : 50th Parallel Estate 2014, Okanagan BC

Best Chardonnay : Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2013, Okanagan BC

Runner Up : JoieFarm Winery Reserve “En Famille” 2012, Okanagan BC

Best Riesling : Tawse Sketches 2013, Niagara Peninsula Ontario

Runner Up : 8th Generation Vineyard Riesling Classic 28 Year Old Vines 2013, Okanagan BC



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