Summer 2011 Newsletter

  • Monthly Features for June / July / August
  • We won 7 more medals at the 2011 International WineMaker Competition!
  • A letter from our supplier RJ Spagnols
  • July “Friend Referral” discount offer!
  • Product Discontinuations
  • En Primeur New Releases!
  • Cru Select Brings Back an RQ Favourite! Argentinia Malbec Syrah!
  • Cru Select Limited Season al Releases
  • Summer Entertaining Made Easy! Orchard Breezin’ and Lounge summer releases!
  • From Around the World to You…New Grand Cru International Wine Kits!
  • Article: What Makes it Organic?

Monthly Features:

June features:

En Primeur  Australian Chardonnay
6-Week 18L Wine Kit
$165/kit (reg $175)

Fermented on Hungarian Oak shavings and lightly toasted American oak chips. Supple, elegant wine boasts
rich aromas of honey and tropical fruits. Notes of apples, melon and toasted oak.

Oak: 3 Body : 3  Sweetness : 0

Cru Select  Italian Chianti Riserva
6-Week 16L Wine Kit
$109/kit (reg $119)

Rich, robust and complex wine with spicy black and red cherry aroma and notes of chocolate. Fine young wine but time lends grace and subtlety to this masterpiece.

Oak: 4      Body : 3  Sweetness : 0

Cru Select  Australian Viognier Pinot Gris
6-Week 16L Wine Kit
$105/kit (reg $115)

Extremely aromatic wine, dry and medium-bodied, notes of apricots and pear with a refreshing fruit forward finish.

Oak: 0       Body : 3     Sweetness : 0

Grand Cru International Washington Merlot
5-Week 12L Wine Kit
$79/kit (reg $89)

Deep intense wine , flavours of cassis and chocolate, velvety tannins, dark and rich with notes of blackberries. Fermented on Merlot Genuwine Winery Dried Grape Skins.

Oak: 3       Body : 3-4    Sweetness : 0


July Features:

Cellar Classic Winery Series Washington Merlot
6-week 18L Wine Kit
$129/kit  (reg $139)

This elegant ruby-coloured Merlot features a rich aromatic bouquet of fresh red cherries, toasted oak, and herbs. Medium to full-bodied, Merlot Winery Grape Skins add structure and balance to the expressive flavours of dark ripe plums, berries, and silky tannins.

Oak: 3       Body : 3     Sweetness : 0

Cru Select New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
6-week 16L Wine Kit
$105/kit  (reg $115)

Crisp and light, with intense flavours of grapefruit peel and freshly cut grass and an accent of light oak on the finish.  The wine presents soft hues, with a slight tinge of green.

Oak: 1       Body : 3     Sweetness : 0

Cru Select California Pinot Noir
6-week 16L Wine Kit
$109/kit  (reg $119)

Medium to full-bodied, this wine presents a bouquet of rich tobacco, ripe blackberries and spices.  The palate is treated to a heady experience of dark cherries, a hint of oak and velvety tannins.

Oak: 3       Body : 3     Sweetness : 0


August Features:

En Primeur German Riesling Gewurztraminer
8-week 18L Wine Kit
$154/kit  (reg $169)

Two of Germany’s most iconic varietals are combined to produce an exceptional wine.  This Riesling Gewurztraminer blend offers apples, spice and a hint of minerals enticing the nose.  Slightly off-dry with perfectly balanced acidity, flavours of citrus, floral and honey linger gracefully on the palate.

Oak: 0       Body : 3     Sweetness : 1-2

Cru Select Italian Amarone
6-week 16L Wine Kit
$109/kit  (reg $119)

Unique to the Valpolicella region of Italy, this Amarone is packed with rich raspberry, blackberry and cassis flavours.  Deep, dark and inviting, the finish is long, lingering and full of ripe tannins.

Oak: 5       Body : 5     Sweetness : 0

Grand Cru Italian Pinot Grigio
4-week 10L Wine Kit
$65/kit  (reg $79)

From one of the wine capitals of the world, this Italian Pinot Grigio’s deep apple and grapefruit bouquet will entice you. Apples and citrus notes follow thorough to the palate and lingers with a dry finish.

Oak 0     Body 2         Sweetness  0


Conner’s Wine Cellar continues to be Chilliwack’s most award winning wine makers!

We picked up 7 more medals at this years WineMaker International Wine Making Competition in Santa Barbara this past May 22nd! That makes a total of 28 medals we’ve won in Wine Making Competitions in the last 4 years! That is why you can always feel confident that the wine you make with us is of the highest possible quality.

Silver:    Cru Select RQ Nero D’Avola 2008
Silver:    Cru Select RQ South African Cabernet Franc Merlot 2010
Silver:    Cru Select RQ Okanagan Valley Red Meritage 2009
Silver:    Cru Select Specialty White Chocolate White Port 2008
Silver:    Cru Select Specialty Apple Tatin White Port 2010
Bronze: KenRidge Showcase German Muller-Thurgau 2010
Bronze: Cellar Classic Winery Series Australian Meritage 2009



A letter from our Supplier RJ Spagnols:

For the 5th year in a row, RJ Spagnols is awarded the most medals at the 2011 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition!

Results are in and we are thrilled to announce that, once again, RJ Spagnols was awarded the most medals at the 2011 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition! The competition recognizes excellence and quality in craft winemaking and we are honoured to have won more medals than any other wine kit supplier! For those not familiar with the competition, it is the largest amateur wine competition in the world, with over 4,200 entries received from as far away as Spain, Norway and Israel.
RJS was awarded over 300 medals and also received 2 Best of Show honours! Congratulations to Majorie Keast of Alberta for winning Best of Show White Wine, Cru Select RQ German Müller Thurgau and Callie McHarg of British Columbia for winning Best of Show Sparkling Grand Cru Gewürztraminer!

We take great pride in producing wine kits that you will be proud to share with family and friends. Rest assured knowing that RJ Spagnols wines are produced to the highest quality standards and are enjoyed by distinguished palates and wine lovers alike.



July Friend Referral Discount offer!

Do you have a friend that currently makes wine at another establishment? Bring them in to Conner’s Wine Cellar during the month of July and you and your friend will each receive $20 off your July wine kit purchase when made in store.
Offer valid for one $20 discount per customer. Not to be combined with any other offers.



Product Discontinuations

To support RJ Spagnols’ initiative to bring new and exciting kits to market while maintaining existing portfolio efficiencies, from time to time they need to streamline their product portfolio. This allows them to have more frequent production runs on the kits they carry, providing fresher products arriving to our store, and brings you new wine trends for you to enjoy.

Please note the following RJ Spagnols products that have been discontinued and the recommended replacement list:


Discontinued Replace With…
Cellar Classic Washington Lemberger Cellar Classic Vieux Chateau du Roi
Cru Select French Viognier Cru Select Australian Viognier Pinot Gris
Cru Select Australian Shiraz Viognier Cru Select Cabernet Shiraz Merlot
Cru Select Australian Bush Vine Grenache Cellar Classic Winery Series Grenache Syrah
Orchard Breezin’ Loquat Ginger Pinot Gris n/a
Orchard Breezin’ Gold Kiwi Pomelo Sauv Blanc n/a
Vinoka Black Cherry     (cider/cooler) Orchard Breezin’ Black Cherry
Vinoka Cranberry  (cider/cooler) Orchard Breezin’ Cranberry Chianti
Vinoka Pink Grapefruit    (cider/cooler) n/a
Vinoka Strawberry (cider/cooler) Orchard Breezin’ Strawberry Riesling
Vinoka Pomegranate (cider/cooler) Orchard Breezin Pomegranate Wildberry Zinfandel



New En Primeur Wine Kits available!

We are thrilled to release a Riverland Australian Sauvignon Blanc and Maipo Valley Chilean Malbec as permanent releases in the En Primeur family available late July!

AUSTRALIAN Sauvignon Blanc $169/kit

Southern Australia’s cooler climate provides optimal growing conditions for this luscious Sauvignon Blanc. Tropical and citrus fruits are in the bouquet of this unique, medium to full bodied Australian Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of herbacity on the nose. This exciting and complex wine bursts with flavours of pineapple, passionfruit and stonefruit with a hint of herbaceousness. The finish offers a refreshing zing of acidity.

Oak 0   Body 3    Sweetness 0

CHILEAN Malbec $175/kit

Chile’s Maipo Valley lies in the shadows of the Andes providing perfect growing conditions for many world class wines. With spicy & herbaceous aromas and a hint of tobacco, this medium to full bodied Malbec is rounded by an elegant palate of dried red fruits with lingering earthiness. Fermentation on Cabernet-Merlot GenuWine Winery Dried Grape Skins and American & French oak chips round the finish.

Oak 3   Body 4    Sweetness 0


Cru Select Brings Back an RQ Favourite! Argentinia Malbec Syrah!    $119/kit

Back by overwhelming demand is the return of Cru Select RQ favourite, Argentina Malbec Syrah. An early sell out with its RQ release guaranteed its return. If you haven’t had a chance to try this best seller now is the perfect opportunity. Stay tuned as resources become available we will be bringing back more of your RQ favourite wine kits! Available late July.

Oak 3   Body 4    Sweetness 0



Cru Select Limited Seasonal Releases:    $99/kit

Cru Specialty brings you truly unique and distinctive wines to stock your cellar and are perfect for all your holiday entertaining and gift giving. This year, we are bringing you a new Coffee Port Style along with returning favourites; Orange Chocolate Port Style, White Chocolate White Port Style, Apple Tatin White Port Style, Riesling Ice Wine Style and Cabernet Franc Ice Wine Style, all available late August while quantities last.


Energize your senses with this comforting flavour experience! Dating back to the 15th century, coffee has been enjoyed worldwide as an invigorating elixir. Typical of medium roast coffee, aromas of toffee, burnt marshmallow and chocolate will entice you and follow through to a palate which finishes with lingering notes of vanilla. Our Coffee Port Style is a wonderful end to any meal, paired with dessert or enjoyed on its own.



Summer Entertaining Made Easy!

We are thrilled at the success of our Orchard Breezin’ and Lounge summer releases. From light and refreshing fruit wines to wine based cocktails, entertaining has never been easier or more enjoyable! Whether entertaining on the patio or at the cottage, we have all your entertaining beverage needs covered! All wines are now available and selling quickly.

Orchard Breezin’ Pear-licious $69/kit

Pear-licious will have you reminiscing of biting into a ripe juicy pear. The sweet and juicy flavours of ripe pear are balanced off with a hint of acidity to create a refreshing fruit mist wine, bringing the autumn orchard to your wine glass. Pear-licious is offered as a permanent addition to our Cru Orchard Breezin’ Mist family.

Superfruit Luscious Lychee Green Tea $69/kit

Lychee is a tropical fruit high in anti-oxidants. Combined with green tea, rich in polyphenols and powerful anti-oxidants, this delicious wine is a surefire winner! Enjoy sweet lychee aromas and flavours with subtle green tea notes in the background of this refreshing mist wine. Luscious Lychee Green Tea in the Superfruit line is available while quantities last. Avoid disappointment and order your kits early!


LOUNGE Cosmo, Mojito and Pina Colada!

Make one of these exciting new beverages in-store for only $129 (kit and vintner fee included)

OR make a half batch for $79! (kit and vintner fee included)


Served in lounges worldwide, the Cosmopolitan is the drink of choice for urbanites. Understandably so, a Cosmo combines vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and freshly squeezed lime juice then shaken and served in an ever so sleek martini glass. Lounge’s wine based Cosmo is the perfect addition to your next girl’s night!


Dream of a Cuban escape while sipping this classic cocktail! In the traditional Mojito, white rum, sugar cane and lime juice are artfully muddled together with fresh mint to extract the mint’s essence. Consider muddling with raspberries, mangoes or your favourite fruit before serving in a highball glass and enjoying with friends.


Born in sunny Puerto Rico, the Pina Colada has been used to refresh its citizens for decades. Gaining a cult following, it has since become the queen of tropical drinks. Typically rum, coconut and pineapple are blended to create this heavenly tropical experience. Serve our wine based Pina Coloda over ice or blend with ice and enjoy in the company of great friends and summer heat.



From Around the World to You… New Grand Cru International Wine Kits!

We are excited to announce 2 permanent additions to the Grand Cru International family. Now available are the new Germany Müller-Thurgau and the return of our holiday favourite, Argentina Malbec Syrah!

Germany Müller-Thurgau $89/kit

Oak 0 | Body 4 | Sweetness 2

The second most planted vine in Germany, the profile of this grape closely resembles the aromatic intensity of Riesling but is differentiated by ripening earlier and is less acidic. This hearty vine requires less sun and makes few demands of the climate so it survives in less than ideal conditions. Medium in body with a delicate off-dry taste, this wine is balanced by mild acidity giving it a long-lasting finish. Offering unique flavours and an amazing aromatic yet subtle and fruity perfume, it is at its best in the first flush of youth.

Argentina Malbec Syrah $89/kit

Oak 2 | Body 3 | Sweetness 0

Argentina has nearly perfect grape growing conditions, it has a temperate, semi-desert continental climate, with abundant intense sunlight and rainfall that rarely exceeds 8 to 10 inches per year. With plentiful sun and little rain, Argentina yields ultra-ripe grapes. Malbec and Syrah are blended to create a wine with aromas of toast while fermentation on Shiraz GenuWine Winery Dried Grape Skins adds hints of cherry and dark fruit to the palate.


Article:  What Makes it Organic?    by Tim Vandergrift

from Canadian Wine Crafter Magazine

Organic foods are distinguished by three factors, according to the 1998 NOFA-NJ Organic Certification Standards & Procedures Handbook.  They are produced: (1) by agricultural methods that promote the biological health of the soil, (2) without the use of any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides) and (3) by food handling methods that ensure the integrity of the product from the field to the buyer’s table.

That sounds very promising, but what exactly does it mean from the wine and wine kit industry?

For the vast majority of grape growers it doesn’t mean much.  First, grapes are a very long-term crop (no fruit for four years, and then a 20+ producing life for vines).  Growers who don’t promote soil health are rapidly without a livelihood.  Deteriorated soil = no vines.

Second, there isn’t a huge call for synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on grapes.  The only really common thing that grapes get sprayed with is Bordeaux mixture, a blend of lime and sulphate that prevents mould.  This compound is allowed for use on organic grapes, as it’s not derived from petrochemical products, and is pretty benign.

Third, and most important, you can’t make wine if you don’t handle the grapes with plenty of integrity.  Poor handling causes burst grapes, subsequently oxidising the juice.

Two of the biggest impediments to organic certification of grapes are the reporting and bureaucracy of the process and fence posts.  Grape growers are like farmers everywhere: paperwork is anathema to their operations, so even if they’re already in a position to declare themselves organic, they don’t bother.

As for fence posts (actually trellis posts for holding up the wires for training the vines), most growers use some form of pressure-treated lumber.  Since the products used in pressure treating are petrochemical derived, this rules out organic certification of any vineyard where they’re used.  Alternatives such as steel or concrete posts work fine, but are significantly more expensive to install and work with.

However, there are some vineyards that can and do provide proof of organic certification.

As for claims of ‘organic’ for consumer-produced wines, it is possible for a wine kit manufacturer to claim to provide a wine kit that contains organic juices and concentrates.  However due to the nature of our industry and the other components involved in processing, manufacturing and making wine kits, it would be difficult to lay claim to a totally organic wine kit.

Some of the challenges are:

– Many wine kits include Sorbate, which is produced synthetically.

– Sulphite is also industrially-synthesized.

– Oak products are almost all processed with natural gas during toasting.

Some manufacturers have taken the step of including organic grape material in their kits, and have provided the proof of certification necessary – bravo to them.  But due to the increased costs and paperwork necessary to keep track of the organic status it has so far only been done with ultra-premium offerings on a limited-release basis.

Determining if a product is truly organic requires significant research and a 360 degree examination of all aspects of its production. Unfortunately for consumers searching for a single word that will let them choose a healthy and ecologically progressive product, organic’ has lost meaning.  The term has been co-opted by agribusiness and watered down until it has no value as a signifier of wholesomeness or quality, just as a marketing term.

Indeed, sociologist Philip H. Howard has researched the structure and transformation of the organic industry in the United States.
He claims that in 1982 there were 28 consumer cooperative distributors but as 2007 there are only three.  His research shows that most of these small cooperatives have been absorbed into large multinational corporations such as General Mills, Heinz, ConAgra, Kellog, and others.  This consolidation has raised concerns among consumers and journalists of potential fraud and degradation in standards.  Most of these large corporations sell their organic products through subsidiaries, allowing them to keep their names off the labels.

So what kind of grapes actually go into wine kits?  Wine kit companies work closely with growers and brokers to ensure that they’re getting top quality.  They are classified as food processors, operating under the federal guidelines and inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  Stringent QA/QC programs and extra programs like pesticide bioassay testing ensure that all grapes pass the highest quality standards for food in Canada, whether they come from organic vineyards or not.

The big picture: raw materials for your wine kit have never been better, more carefully chosen, or of higher quality.  Wine is, and always has been, a beverage taken for its safety and wholesomeness, from times when water was suspect at best.  Wine from kits continues this tradition and gives everyone the chance to participate in a process that connects them to the soil and sunlight of a vineyard and to capture it in a bottle to share with friends and family.

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