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.
Haely and Juhan Lindau had seemingly unrelated degrees in commerce and molecular biology. But they soon realized how complementary their backgrounds actually were to a career in winemaking and beer brewing. Armed with business and libation-crafting knowledge, the duo flung open the doors of Broadway Brewing and Winemaking in 1992, becoming the first on-premises winemaking shop in Vancouver. At the DIY winery, the owners and their knowledgeable staff guide students of all interests and skill levels through the process of making their own libations, assisting them in selecting the right supplies for home-brewing endeavours before giving them advice on what to do if beer starts drinking itself.
At Purple Castle Brewing's 4,300-square foot brew house, aspiring vintners create their own delicious red and white wines during brewing, bottling, labeling, and corking sessions. Amid rustic wooden barrels and shiny metal vats, seasoned wine experts teach visitors how to ferment, bottle, mature, and kennel-train a batch of fine wine. Patrons crush flavor-filled grapes such as an off-dry German gewtraminer or a rich Australian shiraz, crafting their own labels to slap on their handmade potables. Each 23-litre batch fills up to 30 750 mL bottles and lasts for up to two years, supplying amateur winesmiths with a good start to a collection or plenty of thoughtful gift ideas for any occasion.
With more than 20 years of beer-making and winemaking experience, the fermenters at Wine Kitz pass on their libation know-how during two-hour group classes. Winemakers can choose from more than 30 grape-juice varieties from Chile, Australia, Italy, California, and grade schools around the world, and beer brewers choose from more than 10 of Wine Kitz's pure-wort kits. The professional potation creators house all of the necessary equipment, including an electric bottle-filling machine and a corking-and-capping machine. Pupils can wizen their hand-mixed saps in large glass carboys or in an oak barrel, choosing their preferred amount of oak flavour, dryness, sweetness, and karaoke-inducing abilities. Each student crafts up to five litres of wine or beer that can be picked up, bottled, and corked six weeks after the class (bottles are not included but may be purchased on-site for $1–$1.50; pickup process takes less than 30 minutes).
At WineMaster, patrons can participate in a fun hands-on spirits-making process without converting their backyard pools into grape-fermentation tanks. After selecting a malbec, merlot, sauvignon blanc, or Gewurztraminer style, participants will use a winemaking kit to easily prepare their batch. The vino vanguards will watch and protect your batch for two months of fermentation, after which time you'll return to bring your own banter-stimulating grape blood into the world during a fun, 20-minute bottling and labeling session. The entire process yields about 30 bottles of wine, which should be enough to get a circus-elephant drunk or keep a closet full of hostess gifts for future dinner parties. Additionally, visitors can take advantage of state-of-the-art winemaking equipment and a friendly and knowledgeable staff, ensuring batches won’t accidentally transform into fruit juice or a magical truth serum that turns dinner parties into awkwardly confrontational events.
Backyard Vineyards takes its name literally—it is located less than an hours drive from Vancouver. True to the laid-back atmosphere suggested by the name, visitors are welcome to lounge in the vineyard's covered gazebo and take in views of grape vines or visit the tasting room and shop, open 7 days a week.