Out & About: Rodney Strong Wines at the Van Winefest

Vancouver, BC hosts one of the largest consumer wine festivals in North America, The Vancouver International Wine Festival, aka Van Winefest.

So, it’s the perfect place for opportunities to meet wine makers and taste some incredible wines from around the world.

And every year, I do just that – taste and taste and taste. I also attend some of the seminars they offer to the trade and regular folk to learn about styles of wine, vineyards around the world and even up and coming trends in wine. But it’s not everyday that I get a chance to sit down and eat dinner with one of the wine makers. So, when this opportunity presented itself, I said YES!

Van Winefest Wine Dinner

The dinner which was called ‘Fog & Fahrenheit’ took place at a local Vancouver restaurant called Black + Blue, where 6 courses were served alongside 6 Rodney Strong wines from California. It is one of the best ways to understand a wine and the food – when you pair them together. You sip, you take a bite and that brings out this, this brings out that, you begin an inner dialogue of whats happening bite after bite, sip after sip.

But when the winemaker is sitting right across from you at the table, the conversation is all-encompassing. Rick Sayre, the winemaker at Rodney Strong Vineyards has been with the winery for 38 years. That is incredible. He’s seen the wine industry grow and evolve; he’s helped young wine makers get their start; and he’s been able to welcome new technology in winemaking, from aging vessels to cork stoppers for the bottles. When he started in 1979, they made just 400 cases, today they make 50,000 cases, just a little bit of a difference!

Donita with Rick Sayre (Winemaker)

I have a new appreciation for Rodney Strong wines all because of sharing a little conversation over a delightful dinner with the winemaker and 6 courses created by Executive Chef, Jason Labahn of Black + Blue to pair with these wines:


Rodney Strong ‘Charlotte’s Home’ Sauvignon Blanc + Shrimp and Salmon Canapes

Course 1 

Rodney Strong Sonoma Coast Chardonnay + Smoked Bacon wrapped Diver Scallop, with jalapeño, burnt shallot and lemongrass salad

Chardonnay + Bacon wrapped scallop

Course 2

Rodney Strong Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir + Jasper Grilled Salmon, warm chicory green salad, chive emulsion and crispy potato

Course 3

Rodney Strong ‘Symmetry Heritage’ + Rosemary Sage rubbed Lamb chop, cannellini beans, butternut squash and crispy herbs

Course 4

Rodney Strong ‘Alexander’s Crown’ Cabernet Sauvignon + Cherry Braised Short ribs, crispy onion, sour shallot jam and pavé potato

Two different cork stoppers

Course 5

Rodney Strong ‘Brothers’ Cabernet Sauvignon + Venison Medallion, roasted heirloom apple and natural jus

Course 6

Rodney Strong ‘Knotty Vines’ Zinfandel + Bourbon Crunch Bombe and dark chocolate ganache

Rick shared that wine isn’t just about the winemaker, it’s about the vines. You’ve got to be a farmer just as much as you need to be the winemaker. And the biggest complement to him, are the words: “I’d like to have another glass”.

Discover Rodney Strong wines and don’t miss out on the 2018 Vancouver International Wine Festival!


Donita Dyer

Co-Founder (Vancouver, BC Canada)

As bubbly and complex as vintage blanc de blancs Champagne. Donita has worked in Sales & Marketing within the Travel & Tourism Industry for years, and in the Wine Industry since 2013, as well as being an entrepreneur. She’s studied French Wine through the French Wine Guild and has earned her WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Advanced Level 3 Certificate. She also received a scholarship from Les Dames d’Escoffier towards the ‘Master of Champagne’ course. When Donita’s not working, she’s writing on her wine and food blog called: Wine & Food Concierge; she teaches a Wine 101 class; she coordinates social wine events and shares her love for rosé wine on a Facebook page called: The Pink Tank. She also loves to travel, cook, explore any culinary scene and is an Actor and Hand Model.

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