Brewing by the batch

Westview U-Vin U-Brew offers limited-release wines and kettle-brewed beer

Kicking off a new year is always cause for excitement at Westview U-Vin U-Brew. While beer and winemaking expertise and supplies are available from staff members year-round, January presents customers with the first two of five new releases from the WinexpertsTM Limited Edition collection.

“The new limited wines have started rolling in,” says owner Jackie Marjerison. “They will come out monthly until April.”

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Currently available are Petit Ruby Cabernet, a dry medium-full red wine from Riverland, Australia, featuring plum, dark berry and vanilla flavours, and Chardonnay Chennin Blanc, a tropical fruit, baked apple and peach-based white wine with tart acidity from Rawsonville, South Africa.

Marjerison says WinexpertsTM kits are well known for their richness and quality. The company is owned by Global Vinter Incorporated, a division of Andrew Peller Ltd.

“Everybody knows about Peller Estates and its liquor-store variety of top-class vintages,” says Marjerison.

February’s feature release from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, is a dry-medium merlot with a dark, oaky spice and tannins that include hints of mocha and licorice.

Milagro Blanco becomes available in March. The passion fruit, melon, peach and lime flavoured off-dry white wine hails from La Mancha, Spain.

The final release, in April, features Negroamaro, a classic, full-bodied red from Apulia, Italy, with mild hints of berries, spice and wood.

In addition to the limited-edition wines, a variety of four-, six- and eight-week regular WinexpertsTM wine kits are also available, from super dry to super sweet and light to heavy.

Marjerison says the process of making wine or beer is not as difficult as some people may think.

“Customers put in their order, pitch the yeast and then come back and bottle it when it’s ready,” she says.

Free bottles and labels are provided to customers ordering their first batch. After bottling and consuming the initial order, the bottles can then be used with their next kit.

Customers also have the option to bring in their own fruit or juice and use it to make wine.

“We still make fruit wine; it is getting busier every year,” says Marjerison. “Customers bring in all kinds of fruit; we’ve even had someone bring in figs and we made fig wine.”

Marjerison says blackberries, in particular, produce tasty results.

“We do a really good blackberry port,” she says. “The possibilities are endless; you can make wine out of just about anything, even dandelions.”

A minimum of 35 pounds of fruit is required to make a five-gallon (30-bottle) batch.

While a customer has yet to bring in dandelions, Marjerison says they were commonly used as an ingredient years ago.

“My grandpa used to make dandelion wine all the time,” she says. “My sister and I had to pick them for him.”

For beer aficionados, more than 100 types of lager and ale are available to choose from before being fermented, cold-filtered and force-carbonated with food-grade carbon dioxide.

“We kettle-brew beer using only natural ingredients,” says Marjerison.

To ensure complete satisfaction, customers have the option to return a batch of wine or beer for a refund, or replace it with a different batch in rare occurrences where the taste is not to their liking.

“We want make sure everyone is always happy with the results,” says Marjerison.

New customers are welcome to drop in or set up appointments to discover more about wine, beer or the brewing process, says Marjerison.

An annual tasting event provides another opportunity to sample what is available at Westview U-Vin U-Brew and learn how the business gives back to the community through sponsoring local sports teams and fundraising for charity organizations, she adds.

“Every year we do a wine-tasting in October and proceeds go to Grace House; we are big supporters,” says Marjerison.

Westview U-Vin U-Brew is open from 9 am-5 pm from Tuesday through Saturday at 7030 Glacier Street; after-hours appointments are available upon request.

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