By the time you read this post, Taste of Abby, Abbotsford’s first ever food and drink festival would have come and gone. But a few of the featured local small business will still be up and operational. Once such is Beyond Bubbles, a shuttled wine tour that brings guests throughout the Fraser Valley visiting local distilleries, wineries, and breweries. Packages and locations vary. Private and public tours are available with designated drop off and pick up locations within Langley, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, and Abbotsford.
Whereas other tours simply drive and drop off, Beyond Bubbles is a one woman show that stays with your group and is just as much a guide as she is the driver. Having frequented each stop, she has vetted each business, has learned about who they are and what makes them a great destination for visitors. Noting points of interest to later repeat to future tour group.
Today we were keeping in all in Abbotsford for Taste or Abby, visiting 3 well-known wineries with a stop at one for lunch. We were all scooped up in the Beyond Bubbles branded van. Slide open doors that reveal 14 seats, including the passenger one up front.
On today’s specialty tour we started at one of my favourite spots to recommend in Abbotsford. An oasis of green where koi fish, friendly kittens, and well-behaved dogs call home.
Ripples originally started off as a blueberry farm, the fruit is harvested and made into their red wines, which are better known as blueberry wines that are great for wine lovers. As a popular wedding venue, they also need to produce and offer their own lines of whites, but this is sourced out of the Okanagan.
Today we were able to sample all of their offerings: 7 bottles named after a popular Fraser Valley mountain range. Legend says that Mount Chem got together with Mount Baker and had 7 babies. We tried those babies, bottled.
From here, any of the leftovers from the wine making process gets repurposed. It is run through the still, and becomes the base of their flavoured spirits in vodka and gin. This is New Wave Distilling and they also do rum, but it uses honey from their onsite bees instead.
We were given samples of their most popular flavours to try. Learning that it is best to warm each in your hand first to release the aromas. Then you take a whiff, and you should not be smelling nail polish remover. When distilling, the first batch that comes off is the worse, therefore the more distilled it is, the less impurities you taste. The result is an easy-going sipper, like their Mango Passionfruit which adds concentrated skin into the vodka for flavour.
Next, we all gathered in their covered dining area for a bistro lunch with cocktails made from the very spirits we were just tasting. I finished my turkey and Brie Panini in order to be able to continue drinking my way through this tour. Turkey Breast, Brie Cheese, Pesto, & Red Onion. Grilled to a crisp to perfectly match the crunch of my chips on the side.
I paired this with their The Dory cocktail. A tropical spiked punch severed in a literal fishbowl. Vodka/rum based with pineapple, mango, passionfruit and orange.
After a relaxing meal with mingling, and further exploring the property, we wrapped up and headed back into the Beyond Bubbles shuttle for stop number 2: Mt Lehman Winery.
This is my first time at Mt Lehman Winery, the story of 2 friends making good wine together. Family own and run, their first grapes were planted in 1991. They specialize in pinot noir, as it is the owner Vern’s favourite grape. All the above factoids were divulged to us by our Beyond Bubbles host, as she took us from shuttle to their threshold of the wine shop, where we would have our tasting.
Held outside on the barrels that lined the entrance, we were given a choice of 2 wines to pick from, as our group went round by round. Our Mt Lehman host would go through what it is we should be tasting and any stories that may affect the grapes and their yield. Like black bears and coyotes munching on their crops and driving down the amount of wine they are able to produce as a consequence.
After your tasting, guests are invited to purchase a bottle of their choosing and enjoy it at the winery’s back yard. Rolling hills overlooking the family’s home in the distance and the vineyard fields adjacent. There is a $5 surcharge to sit here use their glasses. After a frolic between the grape vines, we were bound for destination number 3 in our Beyond Bubbles Taste of Abby tour.
This is Singletree, another Abbotsford winery I am very familiar with. It is named after farming equipment. The piece of wood behind the horse that works up the soil like a hoe. The name is homage to the work of the horse and the respect given to the land to produce crop for their wines.
This too is a family run business, with the son wanting to get into the wine making business and going to school to hone his craft. His studies made him an ideal candidate for wine maker at Mission Hill in the Okanagan, but he opted to stay with and work with his family in Abbotsford instead.
The property use to be an apple orchard and more discerning wine connoisseurs have commented that they are able to taste the orchard fruit in Singletree’s wines. But they are most known for their Siegerrebe grape, also known as “Ziggy”. A name that Singletree has trademarked. Originally, they had to fight with another winery to use the slang, but won the lawsuit and was given the rights to use “Ziggy” exclusively. However, they celebrated by declaring “Ziggy” available for anyone’s general use. They have the largest crop of this grape on property, which we got to see firsthand with a casual stroll through their vineyards.
After a tasting in their wine shop, guests are able to purchase a bottle and enjoy it on their newly licensed patio. They are still waiting for ones for the domes, that groups can reserve in the future for a cozy place for food and drinks.
And thus ended our day of drinking with Beyond Bubbles, learning what goes into our wine and spirits and the people behind them, all in the safety of someone else’s care and driving. What a great way to spend an afternoon and enjoy the fruits of Abbotsford. Highly recommended for your next girl’s day out or a way to escape the city for a quick retreat to more local wine country.
Beyond Bubbles Tours