Bits 'n' Pieces: Winery racks up awards

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Their Vancouver winery may be less than 2 years old, but Gougér Cellars owners Gary and Bonnie Gougér already have amassed a number of awards for their wines.

They picked up three more in the 2011 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition’s limited production category, getting a silver medal for Blend 522, their 2009 zinfandel, and bronze medals for Blend 829 (cabernet sauvignon and syrah) and Blend 903 (syrah, petite sirah, zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon).

Earlier this spring, the Gougérs won platinum at the San Diego International Wine Competition, for Blend 903. They entered three wines in the San Francisco International Wine Competition over the weekend, and expect to learn the results today.

The numbered names of Gougér Cellars wines have meanings. Blend 903 represents Bonnie’s Sept. 3 birthday. Blend 829 is a nod to their Aug. 29 wedding anniversary.

Winemaking is a relatively new career for Gary Gougér, 58, who worked as a pharmacist and an optometrist before taking up the craft as a hobby in 2002. He received a graduate degree in enology, or winemaking, from the University of Adelaide in Australia in 2005. “I absolutely love it,” he said.

Bonnie Gougér, 49, is a chef. The couple also own the business Brownies From Heaven.

Vancouver motorcyclists appear in documentary

Any soldier will tell you that hateful taunts don’t belong at the funerals of service members killed in the line of duty.

So when a group of veterans and motorcycle riders heard that the Westboro Baptist Church planned to protest military funerals as a means to spread its anti-homosexual agenda, the riders banded together to do something about it. The church is known for holding up signs that read “God hates America” and other harsh messages at funerals to spread its opposition to gay rights and more.

Lynn Vaughn, a ride captain for Patriot Guard Riders in Felida, said the motorcycle group started in 2005 as a response to the picketers.

“When it first formed, bikers would stand in front of the Westboro Baptist Church members during their picketing and block them from the view of the families of the fallen,” Vaughn said. “Then the church members started using loud speakers, so the bikers went next to them and would rev their engines to drown them out.”

As the Patriot Guard evolved, the motorcyclists realized they had a mission that went beyond the picketers. They became a sort of honor guard at funerals and memorials of soldiers and first responders. The group only shows up when asked, and members follow processions or stand in line at memorials holding American flags at the ready.

Vaughn and two other Vancouver members of the group, Regional Captain Gary Everett and his wife, Marilyn, briefly appear in a new documentary, “Patriot Guard Riders,” about the motorcycle group and its mission. A teaser is online at http://www.patriotguardmovie.com/Trailer.html.

Vaughn, who served in the Marine Corps and Army from 1968 to 1999, hopes people will see the documentary and possibly help support the group, he said.

“We just want to let (the families and troops) know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice for their country,” Vaughn said.

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Courtney Sherwood 360-735-4561, or e-mail features@columbian.com.