Wine Purchaser, Grape Farmer and 2 Sommeliers Win Kelowna & Penticton

Northern & Central Divisions

Northern Division Celebrity Winner Matthew Landry and Audience Winner Shanyn Ward

Central Division Winner Christina Hartigan and Audience Winner Cynthia Enns

May 16, 2019, Kelowna, BC: Six wine professionals are competing head to head on Tuesday May 21, 2019 in Kelowna for the “Best Wine Taster in BC” trophy.

Five female and one male wine industry pros have already proven their blind wine tasting ability as the top scorers at divisional events in Oliver, Kelowna and Penticton. The competition will be fierce as the winemaker, wine party host, wine purchaser, grape farmer and two sommeliers taste their way through five mystery wines in front of an audience in Kelowna next Tuesday. 

The audience will cheer them on, wearing their favourite finalist’s colours and tasting the same wines as the pros on stage. The top scoring audience member from the Finale event will also be guaranteed a spot on stage in the 2020 Tasting Games.

Winemaker Severine Pinte and wine party host Tanja Martell took home the divisional trophies at the first Tasting Games event in Oliver. Pinte, the winemaker at the prestigious La Stella and Le Vieux Pin wineries, was honing her palette while on holiday in France. Her father was testing her with blind wine tastings each day, preparing for the Tasting Games Finale.

“We are all bringing our A game,” commented the top-scoring audience member Martell, co-founder of Red Lips Wine Sips, a custom wine experience provider based out of Kelowna. “Blind tasting is the sport of wine professionals, so I’m training to be at my best for the Finale.”

The top two sommeliers in the province, Matthew Landry and Christina Hartigan, will be facing each other again at the Tasting Games Finale. “I won the Best Sommelier in BC competition earlier this year,” comments Matthew Landry, wine director at the Stablehouse Bistro in Vancouver, “but Christina actually won the tasting portion of that competition. She’s a great friend and an amazing taster, and I’m excited to face her again on stage.” Hartigan is the wine director at Wildebeest Restaurant in Vancouver. 

At the Kelowna and Penticton Tasting Games divisional events earlier this month, grape farmer Cynthia Enns and Cask & Barrel purchaser Shanyn Ward were much more surprised than the audience when they emerged as the top scoring audience members. Both women are highly respected within the wine industry.

The previous owner of Laughing Stock Vineyards, Enns comments how important it is for BC wine professionals to taste globally in order to make wines at an international level. “If we don’t taste outside our borders, we develop valley palate. To make the best BC wine, we have to understand how our wines compare to global wines.”

The Tasting Games events, organized by the wine researchers at Terroir Consulting and wine educators at WinePlus, are meant to build a sense of community and raise the collective tasting game of the local wine industry. Wine lovers are welcome to attend the events and rub shoulders with local winemakers and other wine professionals.

The Tasting Games Finale event May 21 in Kelowna will determine the “Best Wine Taster in B.C.” trophy. Each ticket includes chef-prepared charcuterie, a five wine international tasting flight, and a chance to win a spot in the 2020 Tasting Games. Proceeds from the Tasting Games benefit viticulture students at Okanagan College and participants in Start Fresh Project’s Culinary Arts and Farm Education program, for those experiencing employment barriers due to mental health.

Tickets are still available for the Tasting Games Finale May 21 2019, 7pm at the East Kelowna Hall in Kelowna: