Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wine Garden: Recommended

Company: Wine Garden (West) - RECOMMENDED

The Wine Garden is a wine-making company, similar yet different to make-your-own-wine businesses but with a twist. Most wine making companies offer juices or concentrates, where you have to purchase large quantities of juice and then wait (usually longer than 2 months) to receive your wine. The end result? It's up in the air.

The Wine Garden is different. Yes, you still have to pre-order the wine but what is available is a wide variety of taste and price. Most of the juices offered all come from the Maipo valley in Chile, where their provider provides grapes directly from a first-press vineyard. While there are third-press juices like many companies, the treat is in the Wine Garden's first-press grapes, frozen grapes brought up right from various regions. Matt and Kevin, the owners, take special attention in the pressing and fermentation process. These first-press grapes can take upwards of six months but are stored in beautiful Hungarian oak barrels. The end result is a wine that competes hardily with most wines found in the liquor store. Some require longer storing in your home - while others are ready to drink. While there are other Wine Garden sites around the Ottawa area, this one is truly a special one - in fact, theirs is the picture that you see on the web site. Some of their wines are used in area restaurants as the house wine.


Our favorites: Malbec, Carmenere and their "Bordeaux" blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot/Malbec and xxx, where xxx may be one of Shiraz, Carmenere or some of their others.

Instead of just offering cases of wine, members can also purchase boxes (including 5l and 20l sizes). The prices are extremely reasonable, ranging from $3-4 bottle to $7 bottle of the first-press grapes. We have been members for three years and have yet to be disappointed by a bottle and the bottling experience is fun and enjoyable. As the web site says, the Wine Garden definitely offers Wines Beyond Your Imagination.

Company: Wine Garden (West) - RECOMMENDED

WestJet Airlines: Recommended

Company: WestJet Airlines - RECOMMENDED

There are effectively two major airlines in Canada: Air Canada and WestJet. Air Canada has gone from being a government subsidized airline to a private company, gobbling up other private airlines. WestJet is the latest of airline companies who provide competition with Air Canada for across the country, as well as some international flights.

We recently flew to Vancouver from Ottawa. This was the first time we have flown on WestJet and based on our experience, we would definitely fly them again. On the way out, we had a brief stop-over in Calgary. The flight attendants on both flights were friendly, attentive and in the case of Michael, hilarious. Michael made a "show" of the emergency announcements and both times, got the attention of most passengers, to the point of making the other flight attendant laugh during her announcements.

Only downside was on the flight back where the pilots did not welcome the passengers on-board (a small thing) and neglected to mention a possible delay (about 20 minutes - kind of major).

WestJet doesn't charge extra for bags which is a plus (although we usually go carry-on anyways) but you do have to pay for snacks, a common practice these days. As far as equipment goes, WestJet flies 737s, all equipped with TVs in the back of each seat, showing Bell channels and offering some pay per view. Honestly, it's not worth getting pay-per-view since you may be interrupted with announcements, making it impossible to really get a full watch of a show.

Company: WestJet Airlines - RECOMMENDED