The Sooke Harbour House Wine and Food Philosophy
The Sooke Harbour House is proud to showcase the foods of Vancouver Island and we believe that the wines of our region are the best accompaniments to the foods on our menus. These wines are generally characterised by low oak and alcohol levels, good acidity, and are medium bodied, all of which render these wines optimal candidates for wine and food pairing in the majority of cases. More than ninety percent of the wines that we serve come from British Columbia, and an increasing number come from Vancouver and Saltspring Islands. At the Sooke Harbour House, we hope that the marriage of regional wine and food will help lay the groundwork for an emerging Vancouver Island regional cuisine. It is also important, in this age of global warming, to provide more wines that travel shorter distances and, as much as possible, we are trying to support an increasing number of nearby wineries that adhere to sustainable, in some cases certified organic, viticultural practices. Every year the number of wineries in this region grows and so does the selection of good Island wines.
Our emphasis at Sooke Harbour House is on regional wines that will enhance the flavours of the foods from our inn’s certified organic gardens, the Sooke Harbour House Farm, and from the farms, fishermen, and foragers of Southwestern Vancouver Island. We believe the best ingredients are local, at the height of their freshness and flavour profile, and that geography expresses itself in the taste of regional foods and wines. The ingredients and vines of our region share a similar terroir and their synergy frequently provides better pairing than wines and foods from dissimilar climates and soils. We believe that what grows together, goes together!
With over 2,000 bottlings to choose from, our wine list offers great variety from many major wine producing regions. Of equal importance, our wine list features hard to find and sometimes rare wines from British Columbia’s best producers. For those of you who would like to sample a wider variety of different wines, we offer more than 30 wines by the glass.
Please don’t be daunted by the size of our list. Ask for guidance to find the selection, price range, or style you are looking for. Our wine stewards are pleased to offer advice to ensure that you get the bottle of wine that is right for you.
Our wines are stored at carefully maintained, optimum temperatures in three separate underground cellars built in 1929. These wines are treated with great care and respect so that the vintage you select will exhibit the full potential of its bouquet, flavours and body. The wines in our collection have been kept under controlled temperatures and humidity since their release. We believe that our older, cellar-matured bottles are sound, but remember the old adage that when drinking wines of this age, “there are no good wines, only good bottles.”
Our by the glass offerings fluctuate to accommodate our cuisine, which changes on a daily basis with the seasons. Our team of sommeliers offer complete pairings with all of our menus, upon request.
Most of our reserve red wines are kept at cellar temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius and may require a few moments to reach proper serving temperature. Since wine is a living entity, we would be happy to recommend which white and red wines can be decanted so they can breathe before service.
- Vincent Lamontagne received his sommelier’s certificate after a full year of training at the Centre de Formation Professionnel Wilbrod-Bherer in Quebec City.
- Brian Storen has worked as sommelier in various restaurants throughout BC for the last 25 years.
- Andrew Simmons has been a fixture in the BC wine industry for over a decade. His worldly travels have complimented his wine education.
- HughKruzel has a world of wine experience, beginning in the fields of the, then emerging, Niagara wine industry, and continuing on to vineyards in Hungary, England, Germany, and Oregon, as well as being a wine educator for more than 25 years.
- Linda Danielson completed Level One of the Sommelier’s course, but the majority of her wine knowledge has been accrued over 30 years in the dining room at Sooke Harbour House.
- Dr. Sinclair Philip is Wine Director and Co-Owner of the Sooke Harbour House. He is an experienced wine judge and has visited many of the world’s major wine producing regions and a number of the winemakers featured on this list.
By law, consumers may not bring wine into restaurants in British Columbia. Although, you may leave with an unfinished bottle of wine, but it must be sealed and kept in your trunk for the ride home.
Wine costs in British Columbia put us at a competitive disadvantage with most of the rest of North America. Liquor prices and taxes are higher here than in Ontario and Quebec, and considerably higher than in most parts of the United States. Try local wines which tend to be of increasingly high quality and are likely to be more reasonably priced.
Our Wine Spectator Grand Awards
We are proud that the Sooke Harbour House wine list has received the Wine Spectator’s coveted Grand Award. As one of the finest cellars in the world, we were recognised for 10 consecutive years by the Wine Spectator Magazine’s Grand Awards Program. Our restaurant was one of only 73 best wine lists worldwide to be given this honour and the only restaurant in British Columbia to receive this recognition.
According to the Wine Spectator, “our highest award is given to those restaurants that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to quality. These lists show serious depth of mature vintages, outstanding breadth in their vertical offerings, excellent harmony with the menu, superior organization and presentation and 1,250 or more selections.”
Please let us help you enjoy the best wines from this exciting viticultural region and from across the world!
Sooke Harbour House Wine Cellar Tour
(Available at 5:00 p.m.)
One of our sommeliers will be happy to guide you through our wine cellar and answer any questions you may have. To book a complimentary wine cellar tour, it is best to speak to one of our front desk staff in advance or click here to request an appointment by email. Otherwise, we will try to accommodate you during dinner service, if time permits. Our tour generally begins at 5:00 pm, and can take up to half an hour.
Some Wine Cellar Highlights, Sooke Harbour House, February 2012
Sparkling Wine from British Columbia
Sumac Ridge Brut, Okanagan Valley
- 11 selections dating back to 1988
- 9 selections dating back to 1979
White Wine from British Columbia
- 112 selections dating back to 1985
White Wine from France
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace, Organic-Biodynamic
- 32 selections dating back to 1992
White Wine from Germany
J.J. Prum, Riesling, Mosel, Germany
- 7 selections dating back to 1958
White Wine from the United States of America
Signorello, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, California
- 8 vintages dating back to 1991
Red Wine from British Columbia
- 140 selections dating back to 1982
Shiraz from Australia
- 70 selections dating back to 1991
Red Wine from France
Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Hermitage La Chapelle, Syrah, Northern Rhone
- 7 vintages dating back to 1991
Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, Southern Rhone
- 7 vintages dating back to 1991
Château Léoville Las-Cases, St-Julien
- 7 selections dating back to 1966
Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
- 4 vintages dating back to 1981
Red Wine from Italy
Angelo Gaja, Barbaresco, Piedmont
- 10 selections dating back to 1961
Red Wine from the United States of America
Turley, California, Organic
- 11 selections of Zinfandel dating back to 1995
- 10 selections of Petite Sirah dating back to 1993
- 6 selections dating back to 1979
Andrew Will, Washington
- 5 selections dating back to 1989
Pinot Noir, Oregon
- 12 selections dating back to 1975
Ice Wine from Canada
Canadian Ice Wine
- 74 selections, including:
Hainle, Riesling Ice Wine, British Columbia
- 12 selections dating back to 1978 including the first ice wine made in Canada
Jackson-Triggs, Riesling Ice Wine, British Columbia
- 10 selections dating back to 1994, including sparkling ice wine
Port from Portugal
- 8 selections dating back to 1970
- 11 selections dating back to 1980