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SPILL THAT WINE: A pairing menu from the best Qualicum Beach and Parksville chefs

Top-rated chefs pair Burrowing Owl wines with dishes from their own menus
Eli Brennan and Lynsee Yee of Qualicum Beach Cafe. (Chris Herbert photo)

To nick a line from Monty Python; “Now for something a little bit different.” If like me you’ve wondered how a restaurateur recuperates following a day spent paying heed to their guests’ culinary peccadilloes, you wouldn’t be alone. So, I reached out to some of our local restaurant personnel with this simple question: “After a long day, what would you choose off your regular menu and which Burrowing Owl wine would you pair with it?”

Why Burrowing Owl Estate Winery? In part because a column on the Wyse family’s iconic winery is past due.

Two of the Burrowing Owl wines we will feature here, the 2020 Merlot and Chardonnay, showcase grapes grown on the north end of Osoyoos Lake near Oliver. Since the initial vintage in 1997 this semi-arid vineyard adjacent to their winery has been producing premium grapes for world class wines. The more recent planting of Syrah and the blended late ripening Viognier benefit from the long warm Septembers at Eva’s Vineyard in Osoyoos.

The Chardonnay is handpicked, gently oaked and displays tropical fruit aromas. A wee bit buttery with fully ripe Okanagan fruit on the palate and a citrusy finish.

Executive Chef Eric Edward of Cedar’s at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Resort tells me he would pair it with his Rockfish Skillet and root vegetable hash, with a side of spicy seared prawns in creole butter, garlic ane white wine. Chef Eric also chose to pair Burrowing Owl’s Merlot with a ribeye steak, a red wine demi-sauce and mushrooms.

Like the Chardonnay the 2020 Merlot benefited from ideal summer heat followed by long, cool September nights.

Lower yields produced high-quality grapes that were aged 14 months, resulting in a full-bodied wine boasting dark fruit on the palate with a savoury, spicy finish.

A member of Hotelier’s 30 under 30 leaders of the future, Lynsee Yee is the genial general manager at the Qualicum Beach Cafe. Seemingly born to be in the hospitality industry, having worked in major hotels, Lynsee has now made her home here in Qualicum Beach. Her choice of fare following a busy day includes a six-ounce tenderloin with Bordelaise sauce, seasonal veggies and whipped potatoes.

A devotee of good food and wine, veteran restaurateur and Qualicum Beach Cafe’s co-owner Eli Brennan, like Lynsee, chose Burrowing Owls 2019 Syrah. A titch of Viognier adds aroma and texture to this full-bodied Syrah. Think chocolate, ripe berries and spice, pairing nicely with Eli’s dinner choice of Mushroom Gnocchi, truffle butter, goat cheese, parmesan and green onion.

“Be sure to add a side of Chef’s freshly baked focaccia bread,” Eli noted. I did and I agree it’s a perfect recipe.

A resident of Qualicum Beach, Chris Herbert is a wine enthusiast who enjoys sharing everything that B.C. wines have to offer. He looks forward to hearing from you with your questions and comments via email at

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