Wine-ing out a bit in the Okanagan wine country was in order after the Spring Import Show in Kelowna back in May. It was also a quest to learn more about wines in the Okanagan and check out the scene with our colleagues/friends that own winery out in this area. The weather was perfect, the scenery was spectacular and thank you to all that welcome us!
First stop was Meyer Family Vineyards, in Okanagan Falls. It was great to catch up with JAK Meyer and see what he and Janice has created at their family winery. Crafting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the style of Burgundy, the wines are receiving many well deserved accolades. Look for a bistro opening on site for the summer season. www.mfvwines.com
Owned by the Mavety Family, Blue Mountain Winery has been around since 1971. In the early years, their vineyards supplied the valley wineries until 1991 when they bottled their own wine. The spectacular vineyard overlooks Vasseaux Lake which has graced on many travel publications.
Heading towards Penticton along Hwy 97, we can see Painted Rock across from Skaha Lake. Proprietors John and Trish Skinner have their vineyard Painted Rock on the Eastern shores of Skaha Lake. The wines have received critical acclaim including Lieutenant Governor’s Award for their Red Icon Blend and Syrah 2009 since acquiring the vineyards in 2004. www.paintedrock.ca
Just at the curve of McMillan & Upper Bench Road is Township 7. The estate has 2 locations – one in Langley with the 2nd on the Naramata bench, acquired in 2003. All the estates along this route have breathtaking view of Lake Okanagan. It’s been years since we’ve seen Lori, our chief wine club organizer in the past is now a proud owner of Township 7 with husband Mike Raffan. www.township7.com
As part of the Okanagan Spring Festival, we were invited to join in on the Chardonnay Barrel Blending Contest with Bradley Cooper, winemaker for Township 7. Co-owner Lori was our partner – we came in second! Maybe just a little less oak we would have been in 1st place! The name “Epic Chardonnay 2012″ was inspired by one of Nucerity Diamond Leader’s love of the word “Epic”.
La Frenz Winery on Naramata Rd was established by Jeff and Niva Martin circa 1990′s. Originally from Riverina, Australia, Jeff was the chief winemaker at McWilliams, creating award winning wines. A short sabbatical in the Napa Valley and quick trip to BC later brought them back to Okanagan wine country in 1994. These are highly sought after award winning wines are available in selected restaurants and private wine retailers. Alexandria is a personal favorite since the first sip in early 2000.
The new Poplar Grove Vineyards, opened in 2011 is simply spectacular! Taste their wines overlooking Lake Okanagan in their new modern cellar. After tasting, enjoy a meal at Vanilla Pod Restaurant on site. www.poplargrove.ca
All this wine-ing certainly whets the appetite. Vanilla Pod Restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery delights one’s senses and palate with tapas style offerings of international and Mediterranean flavors made with locally sourced ingredients from the Okanagan. www.thevanillapod.ca
Driving east on Upper Bench Road, we arrive at Nichol Vineyards, the last stop of our winery tour on route. It has one of the first syrah plantings on their estate and in Canada. Current owner Ross Hackworth took full ownership in 2006 upon the retirement of Alex and Kathleen Nichol who started the winery in 1993. It’s hard not to notice – we think the Lyre (or “U”) vine training system in place for the vines. This system was developed in Bordeaux but more commonly used in the New World. There is a tasting room and shop on site. The wines are outstanding, crafted in a way reminiscent of the old world that expresses the terroir of the vineyard. www.nicholvineyard.com
After a long day of wine-ing and touring we checked into Sutherland Blueberry B&B – Naramata’s only blueberry producer and secret B&B as there is no signage. Nestled on 3.5 acres of stunning lake view property, enjoy the views overlooking Naramata Village and Mill Bay. One immediately feels right at home as you step into a luxurious yet cozy home. The picture view of Okanagan Lake from the Duke Suite is breathtaking! It was certainly a great way to end the day and has our vote as one of the best B&B! We are feeling more than “a bit better” after wine-ing around the Okanagan. Thank Pam and Gary for their gracious hospitality. www.sutherlandblueberrybb.com