With the help of their family, John and Dorie Belisle planted BelleWood Acres' initial orchard in 1996. Today, that orchard has grown to include more than 25,000 trees, creating one of the largest U-Pick operations in Western Washington. Against a backdrop of Mount Baker, the orchard buzzes year-round as families fill up bushels and baskets. Come fall, visitors scour the property for the perfect pumpkin to carve or replace them at jury duty. But fans of BelleWood Acres products don't necessarily have to visit the farm to stock up on its treats, since a lot of them are sold at local businesses around Oregon and Washington. Plus, BelleWood Acres boasts a new, 14,000 square foot building at the heart of its property, which includes a farm market, gift shop, bistro, and bakery.
As a "farm to glass" distillery, BelleWood Distilling transports the taste of its orchard's apples into refreshing spirits, such as its signature honeycrisp vodka. And even when the fruits don't come from their farm, the staff still looks to local suppliers for help in filling their handmade stills. Visitors can tour their distillery to learn about the process of growing, fermenting, and distilling before they dine in the bistro, which offers scenic views of Mount Baker.
What's proper etiquette for the queen's sommelier? West Coast Wine Education's John Gerum confronted this question head on when he served Queen Elizabeth II. Apparently he made the right choice, as he went on to pour wine for prime ministers, presidents, provincial premiers, and cultural icons during his 20-year career. Gerum's achievement distills three generations of fine-dining experience that was passed down from his father, a chef, and his grandfather, a maitre d'. Wine education was always his passion, so when starting out, he sought personal instruction from the master sommelier Andrew Lalibert? and demonstrated a palate refined enough to earn him membership and certification from the International Sommelier Guild. Gerum often merges his know-how with other wine educators to cultivate a roster of classes and hone their delivery. These experts join in delineating scotch terroir and describing the bouquet of a student's favourite pinot-stained shirt with an easy professionalism that has enthralled groups of up to 300 people. They share their expertise with casual drinkers and professionals during two-hour workshops, in consultation for store openings and events, and through appearances on Global TV.
With Langley's picturesque countryside as its backdrop, Neck of the Woods Winery concocts red, white, and sparkling wines using grapes grown primarily in the surrounding Fraser Valley. The facility takes advantage of the area's cool climate–which is similar to that of Northern France and Germany–to oversee the entire production process from pressing to bottling. After spending quality time with their maker or a court-appointed barrel, products migrate to store shelves throughout Fraser Valley and Vancouver, or stay right at home in the winery's tasting room. There, visitors pass through daily to sample the varietals, or hang out in the showroom, warmly stocked with rustic casks and a crackling fireplace.
Years ago, Derrick and Donna Smith began brewing a quartet of ales together, the steaming vats of barley filling their small facility with steam. They quickly gained the attention of beer drinkers and critics and expanded into a 10,000-square-foot space. There, they invite you to check out new craft brews such as Classic Nut Brown Ale, Bold Belgian Pale Ale, and Seasonal Citrus Wit. Rotating seasonal suds fill the recognizable frog-emblazoned bottles with beers whose flavors vary with the season. Derrick and Donna offer clients a peek inside their operation with tours and tastings.
The award-winning Ott & Murphy Wines outfits fortuitous palettes with otherworldly wines, handcrafted in the French winemaking tradition. From a waterside tasting room overlooking the Puget Sound’s Saratoga Passage and the Cascades beyond, you and a fellow burgeoning oenophile will sample 2-ounce pours of four wines from Ott & Murphy’s current stock. Leave unadventurous taste buds at home when sampling sips such as the 2008 tempranillo, a bright, fruity vintage wafting forth scents of berry, cola, caramel, and coffee, or the 2009 viognier, a dry Northern Rhone white blend that recalls violets, honeysuckle, and straw, supplemented by tastes of peach, apricot, melon, and minerals to form a vino that's both fruity and floral, like a popsicle shrub. Complement a night of imbibing by nibbling on two custom truffles, made with Ott & Murphy’s own tempranillo grape tears and silky-smooth chocolate tongue paint.