DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Oliver and Osoyoos wine tour

WARNING: Lots of boring wine talk follows. If that kind of thing doesn’t interest you, scroll down to the pretty pictures.

Hi friends,

Spent the weekend with Babesy* at the Burrowing Owl Winery guest house in Oliver, BC. It’s about a 5 hour twisty drive over the Crowsnest Pass from Vancouver but we got to break it up with a stop in to visit my old friend Wes Makepeace at the family orchard/vineyard in Cawston. They have about 65 acres of Ambrosia apples, Viognier grapes and a whole mess more of things that grow on vines and trees. We took a quick trip on the atv up to the top of the property to check out the view. It was nice to see after hearing about over the years, and I finally got to meet the senior Makepeaces. Good times.

Then it was off to Burrowing Owl where we had reservations for two nights in the guest house. They run a top notch deal up there, beautiful room, great view, and for dinner, The Sonora Room Restaurant. Quick review: Top 5 meals of my adult life. They’re doing good things with a lot of local food and everything from scratch. We tried out some of their library wines (in this case the 2005 vintage) and then had a bottle of the 2005 Pinot Noir with dinner. I’d write more but you can read it on trip advisor. The server knew her stuff, was there when we needed and smiled a lot. Perfect.

That night there was a pretty decent thunder storm and we stayed up and watched the lightshow cuddled in the giant bed. The rain came in buckets, but didn’t last long.

In the morning we had breakfast at the guest house (delicious) and took a tour of the winery. It was just the two of us so it was really informal and I learned a lot about their process. Even if you don’t give a rats ass about wine making, the process is impressive. Plus I love giant stainless steel tanks, so there’s that. Plus they have a $40,000 dollar mass spectrometer. This ain’t my dad’s basement wine production...

After a walk in the vineyard where we got briefly caught in a downpour (thank god for that gazebo, it saved us) we were off to tour some of the other vineyards in the area. We had a couple places that we wanted to see but left the rest of the itinerary up to Natasha at Wine Tours Gone South. She’s quickly building a reputation for her inside knowledge of the area and she took us to the places we wanted to see as well as several we’d never heard of and would never have discovered otherwise. She’s a ten out of ten. I wouldn’t want to tour it any other way. We liked the Gamay and Mirage at Desert Hills, Tried the three offerings from newly opened Platinum Bench (so new that their website is still in Lorum Ipsum!) and then moved on to Quinta Ferreira. Our favourites there were the Obra Prima and a Rose that Babesy tasted every last drop of, the only wine that she finished all day.

Next we stopped at Church and State which could pass for a nightclub instead of a tasting room. The design and architecture are so modern that they really stand out but none of that really matters when you try their Quintessential. It’s a damn fine wine but at $50 it’s not fine enough for me to drop in on. It’s also the only winery that charges a tasting fee ($8). Luckily that was waived with purchase, but still, it sets a tone and speaks to their priorities. We liked the Meritage and it’s more reasonably priced.

After that we were off to Cassini Cellars. We don’t drink a lot of whites but the Mamma Mia Pinot Gris was the right combination at the right time of day and won us over. I’d been told about the Nobilus Merlot but sadly it’s sold out. The Maximus blend would have to fit the bill and after tasting the incomparable Moscoto I had to get that too. Then we headed a little ways north to one of the highlight wineries of the trip. Hidden Chapel is doing some really nice whites, but we’re not much for the whites, so we got into the reds and what a lineup of reds it is. The first one to get the check mark was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was quickly equalled by the 2009 trilogy, and then the 2010 Soul Sister shut us down. Too many good reds to choose from and a really great price. Not to mention the wine is poured by a member of the family who has a real passion and isn’t just a hired goon. Hidden Chapel gets a thumbs up and a bunch of it came home with us.

That was enough for one day but we still needed to eat dinner so we made our way up to Terrafina at Hester Creek Winery. We drink Hester Creek pretty often at home so we weren’t too disappointed that the tasting room was closed by the time we got there, we’d heard good things about the restaurant and wanted to give it a try. The $24 price of the Antipasto platter should have been a hint that it was going to be a lot, but maybe we’d tasted a few too many vintages by then and our judgement was off. It was big, it was good and it should have served four. I had the Halibut which was also nice, if not a bit heavy on the anchovy butter, but after the Sonora Room dinner the night before, it was sadly overshadowed. The 2008 reserve Merlot was a good choice though.

Sunday dawned wet and our scheduled horse ride at Satary Stables was doomed. Not a total loss though as we picked up some cherries and strawberries. They’re really nice folks up there and we’ll have to rebate the ride next time we go up. Their neighbour was our last, and much anticipated, stop on the wine tour. Young & Wyse has become our favourite bottle at home and we we’re very much looking forward to seeing the place that makes the wine we love. In a downpour we pulled up to the tasting room and dashed through the deluge to get inside. Another group was already there on a Sunday morning and despite the weather everyone was in great spirits.

We were disappointed to find out that our favourite blend, the Black Label Collection was sold out and we kicked ourselves for taking it for granted when it was so easy to come by just a few months ago. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot are both top notch wines in their own right though and they made up the last of our weekend purchases. We bought both the 2009 and 2010 Merlot. We won’t take a Y&W wine for granted again. Even on a Sunday morning that familiar taste sets itself apart from so much of the wine we’ve tried. Fans for life.

So that’s it. We’re home, we blew the wine budget for the next several months, and we had the time of our lives. Now let’s see if I have enough willpower to actually cellar some of those bottles...


* not her actual name.

Obligatory road sign shot.

The Makepeace spread.

Burrowing Owl in the middle of a sea of vines.

Stormy night.

followed by a decent morning.


Stainless. Primary fermentation.


Oh so much delicious wine.

It’s not a fancy instagram effect, it’s f1.4

Barrels cost between 600 and a thousand dollars. They have lots.



Babesy goes walking.

Vines and more vines.

rolling hills of vines.

The hidden chapel. It’s real.

Fishing again. The Skagit.

Since moving to Vancouver my fishing has suffered. In Whistler I used to pop out to the lake several times a week, and hit up the rivers fairly often as well. Vancouver was intimidating. Where to go? How could I fish without going shoulder to shoulder with the crowds of tin-chucking meat harvesters? I don’t keep fish often, it’s a pain in the ass to clean, carry and care for them and the truth of the matter is, I’d rather fish for a big trout in a catch-and-release only stream than a million average trout in an overstocked put-and-take fishery. But that’s me, I don’t judge.

Last week I finally got out to the Skagit. To say that it’s “local” is a bit of a stretch, the drive is over 2 hours from downtown. In fact, I could probably get to the Birkenhead faster, but I’m looking for new water and the Skagit is that. Plus I went with Jon Cartwright and he’d spent a productive day there last year, pulling decent fish on the dry fly, so I wasn’t going in completely blind.

First of all, this is some beautiful water. Right now you can wade it everywhere, there are perfect deep holes, riffles, undercut banks and best of all, fish. Almost right away we started to see big silver flashes in the deeper water. Like, BIG flashes. That and lots of surface action. Then I started turning over rocks and what I found blew me away. Huge mayfly nymphs, massive cased caddis, and lots of stoneflies. Eventually I found one of the biggest I’ve ever seen, almost two inches long!

There were a few fishermen and women around but people moved frequently and we never felt crowded. The rainbows here are as cautious as they are plentiful. I found a noticeable difference in my luck when I switched up and fished 5x tippet after a relatively slow patch with 3x fished wet. We had luck on dark stone nymphs, not so much with the golden stones that had been recommended and all sorts of dries. At first we concentrated on elk hair caddis, but after we started to see more mays coming off, we moved to green, yellow and black humpies and had the most action. Really pretty rainbows between 12 and 14 inches were the order of the day.

Near the end of the day I got too curious about those big silver flashes and put a big black bead head leech on my sinking line, dropped it into a deep slow running hole and waited. A minute later as I slowly retrieved I felt a heavy weight. At first I thought I had bottom, then the bottom did a head shake and I knew I was into something better. I could tell pretty quickly that I was into a Dolly. He took a few sharp runs but mostly just bulldogged me and worked his way into the current whenever he could. On the 5 weight, he was a perfect fish. He measured out just over 18 inches when he finally gave up and showed off his vibrant peach-coloured spots and flashy sides. He was a little skinny, but clean. From the flashes I saw, I’m pretty sure that he was small to average, I’d wager there are some of his far bigger brothers in there too. But that’s for another day.

So I’ve got a little gem in my pocket now, I’ve seen some beautiful water, not too far from home, and am looking forward to learning more about this beautiful river.

First look

First fish on a black nymph

Jon tests the banks

A small stone nymph. The huge one I found was a little too active for a photo.

Jon releases a bow.

and casts for another one.

Under these rocks, lots of fish food.

The dolly.

Full length.

End of the day.

Winter work sets in.

Now it can be told...

So I started to work with my old friends at Monster again last week. As longtime followers of the blog know, I've been doing all kinds of different media projects in the last few years as a way to keep myself challenged and to continue to add experiences to my list. After the success of the Grenade Games last spring, Monster was nice enough to have me back to work on through the Olympic year. Which brings me to this event. I'm afraid that I can't give anything away yet because details are being pounded out as we speak, but suffice it to say, for all the people who can't afford, or don't want to attend the Olympics, we're going to make sure that there is an event you can get stoked on at the same time.

Stay tuned for details, this one is going to be good.

Oh ya, and then I'll be working on Grenade Games 6 too. My liver hurts already.

Also. I've been taking pictures of the buildings on my walk to and from the Monster Office for a long time now. Eventually the plan is to have photos of every building on the west side of Main, from Alexander to the viaduct, in all sorts of different media (35mm film, digital, large format, paint, whatever) and line em all up on a white wall somewhere so you can experience my walk to work. I'm hoping to get it done some time in 2010. I've been posting a bunch of stuff on flickr lately too. Weird.

121, 123 Main Street. Vancouver, BC.

229, 231 Main Street. Vancouver, BC.

The book. It exists. And folks are talking.

Well! The advance copies of my book "Out West: Snowboarding, Westbeach and a new Canadian dream." have hit some media outlets and all I can say is wow! Great reviews. People are stoked. I'm stoked. Everybody's happy!

I want to talk more about it but I'm swamped in this edit right now. I have a lot of stuff I want to blog about so stay tuned for some recently published shots that I'm stoked of, some of my opinionated rants, and Way more pictures. Until then read the reviews:



Buy it!

I stole this photo from Transworld.

Another friend.

This is a shot of my buddy Rob. We met in high school and became fast friends. When I moved to Whistler after high school, Rob did too and we stayed together for the first couple months. When I got interested in Fly fishing, I did it with Rob and we spent days and days on the Birkenhead River tossing out flies and learning how to fool the exceptionally wily Birkenhead rainbow trout. Eventually we knew that river as good as anyone, and Rob became a guide while I chose to keep fishing as a hobby.

As much as we did just about everything together, I never followed Rob into the water when he got into scuba diving. He braved the cold BC waters and was even considering doing his dive master. I didn't understand the appeal at all and left it to him. Fast forward 20 years and I'm completely enamored with diving and he must be laughing. He's coming to Maui for the wedding and after all these years I'm finally going to get to dive with my oldest friend. Amazing.

Robbie's dog Sedge was our faithful companion on all our fishing trips and when he finally passed on earlier this year it was a very sad day. He liked to lick trout while you were trying to release them. He thought they were like funny wiggly sticks put on earth just for him to chase. He was a good fishin dog.


Back to the good stuff

My good friend Alex Warburton got married on the weekend in Victoria. The weather held out for him on Saturday and it was spectacular. Sunday morning brought the rains and on the ferry ride home I got lost in all the great colours and textures of the boat. It felt like a really good time for a little photo essay. One of these photos is my favourite. Can you guess which one?


pull this lever

lifeboat icon

rainy windows

boat. wake.

Bc feels like this more often than not. Arriving back in Tsawwassen.

from one boat to another

Waiting in the sun = never fun.

My crew for today did a pretty monster drive to get here and shoot in the sun. Unfortunately they didn't make it all the way. It's not a perfect day out there, but it's pretty nice, and I'm waiting. At least it gives me a little time to work on this last minute job that came up for this week. There is quite a bit to get organized in a short period of time so I'm doing a little scrambling. Well, to keep you occupied until then, here are some more G9 shots from around the hood last week.

Tinsletown. Watch your step.

The hood. Pretty stoked that I live here.Except that I'm in Whistler.

Flags and cranes around the Olympic village site.