Image by Johann Vincent Photography (@yogi.photos)
A first for our Chef Series we get to know a new kind of expert, winemaker Brent Rowland of Averill Creek Vineyard. With a focus on Pinot Noir production Brent has made a career of working with wineries across the globe, including Alpha Box & Dice and By Farr in Australia, and Escarpment in New Zealand and Calera in California. Brent has brought this knowledge to the Cowichan Valley’s wine region. Not one to shy away from pairing exquisite wine with excellent food Brent has included a recipe from Averill Creek’s previous Virtual Dinner Series, which pairs with their Joue White, Rosé and Joue Red wines.
How did you get your start as a Winemaker?
I was a Somm in my 20s travelling the world, surfing during the day and running wine programs at night. Towards the end of my 20s I decided to go into production. So I quit my job, sold my house and moved to Australia. In 2012 I graduated with distinction from the University of Adelaide’s Oenology and Viticulture program and have now worked on 24 international harvests.
What is your biggest challenge right now?
Honestly, we are very fortunate to be in a young wine growing region that does not yet have the pests and disease issues of more established regions. It also has a unique ability to produce quality wines in a diverse range of growing conditions. So our biggest challenges right now are labour and growing enough grapes to keep up with demand.
When working with a chef for your Dinner Series, do you pair wine to food or food to wine? How do you work with the chefs?
We definitely allow the Chef to pair their food to our wines. We work closely to discuss the key components of the wines and the food, but it is ultimately their call on where they want to take the “reverse pairing.” I think that’s why our Dinner Series has been so fun and successful. The chefs love the creative freedom they have at our events.
Besides Cowichan, what is your favourite wine region?
My desert Island wines would be:
Wine: Champagne, because I can drink it everyday
Region: Burgundy, because they specialize in Pinot and Chardonnay
Country: Italy, because of the diversity
What is your favourite thing to do on your day off?
Surfing and sailing trips with my partner and our dogs.
What makes you most excited about your job?
Vancouver Island is like the Wild West of the wine world! We get to play around, experiment and define what the wines from here are and figure out what they can be. That, and to be part of such an amazing team at Averill Creek. There isn’t a single member of our team that isn’t completely invested in building this project into something special. Our owner Andy is a very lucky man!
Do you see any new emerging wine trends?
Neo-classical without being intentionally esoteric. Just clean, honest wines that represent where they are from and give pleasure.
What is your go-to wine pairing that always impresses you?
Chardonnay with Beef Tartare; Pinot Noir with Peking Duck; and Manzanilla or Fino Sherry with Boquerones Fritos.
Recipe: Spaghetti con Cozze Marinara
Why? This is a go-to recipe that Brent learned at an Italian restaurant he worked for in Australia, that is now a staple at home. Super simple with great flavour pay-off. It pairs amazingly with all three of the Joue White, Joue Rosé and Joue Red, each in a unique way.
• 1 can of whole tomatoes, San Marzano DOP variety
• 1 pack of Spaghetti pasta
• 1 tin of Mussels conservas (conservas can be found at Charelli’s)
• Parsley or basil
• Garlic to taste
• Olive oil
• Chili flakes to taste (optional)
1. Empty the can of tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them with your hands. In a large pot, heat up a generous drizzle of olive oil and put the tomatoes in. Simmer until slightly reduced (20-30 minutes), then remove the pot from heat.
2. In a large pan, drizzle in some olive oil and the oil from the mussel tin. Heat the oil. Add garlic and chili flakes if desired. Keep the heat low and be careful not to burn.
3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add noodles, and cook for 2 minutes less than the instructions say, or until al dente.
4. Add the reduced tomato sauce (passata) to the pan with the olive oil and continue to simmer while the pasta cooks.
5. When pasta is done, add it to the pan with the passata, and finish cooking it in the sauce.
6. Plate the pasta and garnish with the mussels and parsley or basil. Bon app!
Photos of Brent taken by Johann Vincent Photography.
Photos of pasta by Amy Ayer.
Responses and recipe courtesy of Brent Rowland, Averill Creek Vineyard
Written by Amy Ayer of @amy.is.busy