There is nothing more beautiful than a wine-fridge filled-to-bursting with overstock in racks on the floor. Or, Touring Langley Wineries: A Good Idea.

Oh wow. Big day.

It started with dim sum, and just the right amount of food – going into a wine tour on an empty stomach only seems like a good idea. It’s actually a recipe for disaster that ends in all kinds of crankiness and tears. Nick and I met Grace and James at 11:00. We ate Chinese donut, shrimp-and-duck dumplings, rice noodle with scallops and asparagus, and excellent sticky rice. We had the little spring-roll-looking pastries filled with sweet red pork. It was all very delicious, and a generous spread of food (and a morning beer for Nick and James) came to $15.00 per person (including tip). So we were off to a good start.

Unfortunately, I drove.

Grace and James navigate from the back seat, armed with a map of the region and an epic book of BC wineries.
Grace and James navigate from the back seat, armed with a map of the region and an epic book of BC wineries.

Confusion over the exits and a detour off the highway about 35 kilometers from where we needed to be aside, we made it to The Fort Wine Co. in Fort Langley by 12:45.┬á Fort is a fruit winery, and they make excellent dessert wines that smell exactly like the fruit that’s in them. I bought a bottle of their raspberry dessert wine, and it smelled like sunshine and a pint of fresh raspberries and everything good in the world. Nick bought a bottle of the blueberry table wine, and I got a bottle of their apple-pear wine, which will be perfect when chilled and stuffed into a cooler and dragged off for a picnic on the beach at some point this summer. One of the nice things about The Fort Wine Co. is that they have a little patio and some picnic tables in their garden where you can order a glass of wine or sangria and enjoy snacks, such as a platter of delicious local cheeses and crackers. We skipped that this time (dim sum – too full). Nick took over the driving at this point, so we made it to our next location with far greater ease.

We had a delightful time at Lotusland. They have lots of different kinds of wines, and because it’s a bit out of the way, they are not very busy if you show up there on a Sunday afternoon. Which means that you can try all the wines, and also probably that they will pour you a bigger glass of each and generally be a lot of fun to talk to. I wasn’t super impressed with all the wines there – the whites were, by and large, very sweet and not to my particular liking, although James bought a bottle of the Gew├╝rztraminer. Nick liked the Pinot Grigio, so he acquired one of those, and I was tickled by a low-tannin red called Zweigelt, which I had never tried before and immediately fell in love with (and mispronounced the name of). It’s very light. A breakfast red, you might say. Now five and three bottles in, respectively, we were pretty pleased with ourselves.

Thanks, Lotusland!
Thanks, Lotusland!

While we were at Lotusland, our wine-tasting host told us about this odd little winery about a fifteen minute drive away. Grace consulted the book, and soon we were on our way to Vista D’Oro, a place where they make wine fortified with green walnuts macerated in brandy. If they had been open, I think we might have learned something. Note to Vista D’Oro: Sunday is Wine Tour Day. It always has been. Be open next time.

Another savage u-turn, and we set a course for Domaine de Chaberton, which I think is French for “awesome.” Their wines are amazing, and you can buy six of them, including a double bottle, for under $100. (In Canada, that many wines for that amount is a good deal. Which is kind of sad. I once bought as many bottles at the Target in Bellingham, WA, for much less. But the wine wasn’t as good. So there.)

My favourite stop on the tour.
My favourite stop on the tour.

Domaine de Chaberton is always very busy, so you get to taste not very much of four wines. That’s okay. I am fairly certain that you can buy any one of their wines and not be disappointed.

I'll bet these don't suck.
I'll bet these don't suck.

This is also Nick’s favourite place, so we bought stuff we both like. Usually we try to get wines we both like, because we’re poor and occasionally we like to make sound financial decisions. But we both like all the wines here. Disappointingly, they were out of Ortega, the best one (it’s grown in the Fraser Valley), and they told us there wouldn’t be a batch this year. Sad face. We got these wines:

It's pretty clear that my next career move should be toward graphic design.
It's pretty clear that my next career move should be toward graphic design.

And we were so happy.

All our hearts grew three sizes that day.
All our hearts grew three sizes that day.

Our final stop on the tour was Township 7. We didn’t mean for it to be the last stop, but we got lost in White Rock (where, did you know, there’s a Tracycakes?!), and then got very hungry, and, after that, very tired.

At Township 7, there are excellent wines. Go there before you go to Domaine de Chaberton though, because going the other way results in a bit of sticker shock. But the reds are good here, and I am quite fond of the Syrah. Only one bottle for Nick and I (and I think two for Grace and James) here, but to be fair, that brought us to 12 (each) for the day. When you get there, try the Merlot – they offer you a piece of salt-and-pepper chocolate to try it with, and the combination is oddly amazing. The chocolate really brings out the red part of the wine.

Wine shop.
Wine shop.
Wine vines.
Wine vines.
Wine.
Wine.

The great thing about BC is that there are so many wonderful places that will give you alcohol just for showing up and looking eager to buy. There are a couple of wineries on the other side of the river that I want to try – Sanduz Estate Wines, in particular – and the Okanagan is a vast and wonderful winestravaganza. The current plan is to spend a weekend up there this summer acquiring as much wine and fruit as we can fit into the car, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But that’s a tale for another time, and this one is already exceedingly long.

I am tickled and pleased and all kinds of happy rolled into one. Thanks, Langley.

Oh! If you have any suggestions for wine, wineries, or places where I can learn to drive, please do let me know. Learning is fun!

I know what love is.
I know what love is.

Things that are not okay: Wanting to slather your naked self in frosting and only not doing it because you’re at tea with your mother-in-law who probably wouldn’t care if you did it but might still think less of you even though she might not say anything.

Today I went for tea in Fort Langley. Ordinarily, the suburbs are not really my thing – wide open spaces make me anxious and uncomfortable, and there are minivans and Home Depots everywhere, which is only kind of true, but I get all weird anyway, even though there are two Home Depots within ten minutes of where I live now and I’m not afraid of Home Depot as much as I am the idea of Home Depot and renovations and owning a home and being a grown-up and caring about things like different kinds of hoses or door knobs or wood things or epoxy.

But I really like Fort Langley. It’s a delightful place and not at all scary, and there’s lots of cool stuff there. Like Tracycakes.

Sign

White house

I was delighted to find that they had my favourite vanilla bean tea, and each person at the table gets the tea of their choice in a little white teapot so I didn’t even have to share.

Jess, Nick’s sister, arranged the whole tea time, and apparently knew all about this in advance – when we got there, there was no order to be placed. We were there for high tea, so we waited for our teapots, then for the tower of awesomeness. We didn’t wait long.

tower of awesomeThe top tier contained little sandwiches – cucumber, egg salad, and turkey – and sausage rolls. BTW, I received a belated wedding gift today – the meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. My mom says I should get over my preoccupation (obsession) with owning a wiener dog because they’re nervous and they pee everywhere, but I’m all, “Um, hello? Me?” And then I got this meat grinder and I swear the joy caused me to pee a little, which made me nervous, but it turns out I didn’t pee and I was just a little sweaty. Overshare.

Anyway, I’m going to start grinding meat and making sausage, the connection here being that since I mastered pastry, the next logical step is to master sausage rolls. I reworded that last sentence like, eight times, because I COULD NOT type “I want to master sausage” and have you think I wrote that without knowing that it could be misconstrued and then laugh at me.

Oh! The scones! I do so love a good scone. Scones comprised the second tier.

sconeThese scones were fluffy and light and gave me a total England boner. Inappropriate. Cranberry and orange, they were, and served with raspberry preserves, lemon curd, and clotted cream. As soon as my bank balance moves back into the black (Thursday), I’ll be acquiring some cranberries and making a feastload of scones. Stay tuned.

On the bottom tier there were cupcakes and butter tarts and a few things I couldn’t immediately identify but knew were probably mighty tasty. The cupcakes (and other baked goods) were fantastic, since they’re what Tracycakes seems to be known for. I would say that these are better than Cupcakes cupcakes, if only for the frosting. I had a caramel one that was perfectly frosted and drizzled with caramel, with a cake that was soft and moist and soaked with errant drops of golden sugar love.

I heard while I was there that this place is closing at the end of the summer, which sucks, because the only other location is in Abbotsford. Which means if I don’t go back to Fort Langley before the end of the summer, I will have tasted my last Tracycake this afternoon. I think I would like to take my Mom there, and perhaps the next sunny Sunday I am out that way, I will kidnap her and make her eat cupcakes. This will be a challenge. But I will succeed.

If you’re considering Fort Langley as a destination, it’s worth your time. There are other good things there – The Lamplighter is tremendous and you will need to go there for dinner, and for some interesting fruit wines, The Fort Wine Co. is the place to go. The main road (only road?) through town features a wide variety of shops and restaurants and places to wander, and if you’re all loaded up on cupcakes the town is just the right size for a waddle.

So, the moral of the story is that there is adventure outside of the city, and Home Depot is nothing to be afraid of. And cupcakes = love.