Okanagan Wine Time

Holiday in OKANAGAN, British Columbia, Canada.

Photo: d. king

I’ve been to some fabulous wine tasting parts of the world including Argentina, California, France, Italy & South Africa.  It always seems more exotic when you’re far from home, but here in Canada one of the loveliest wine regions which can now compete with the rest, is in the Okanagan – about a four and half hour drive from Vancouver.

Summerhill Winery + Bistro. Photo: d. king

I can’t imagine driving through British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan wine valley (a top producing wine region in B.C.) and not taking the time to stop in to have a look around and do a tasting at one or two or more wineries. It’s not even all about the wine…although…it’s also the locations with magnificent views, top-notch restaurants on the premises, the art & the people and their stories.

Stone Sculpture outside Cedar Creek Estate Winery. Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

You cannot possibly visit every vineyard on one trip – there’s just too many, close at hand and far between.  There’s always new ones opening up too.  From world-class operations to family-run boutique vineyards, the Okanagan Valley wineries are rich in tradition and character, consistently ranking among the world’s best at international competitions.

At Kismet. Photo: d. king

Aside from Summerhill Pyramid winery in Kelowna which I always visit because the proprietor is a friend (the wine is also great), on this most recent road trip I kept it simple and focused on only a few. Summerhill held an amazing Autumn Equinox in the Pyramid which my boyfriend and I attended.  After only hearing about it, I can now say I’ve experienced it.  It’s a community gathering to celebrate our connection to each other, the earth and the universe, with a guided group

Que Syrah, Syrah at Kismet. Photo: d. king

meditation in the Summerhill Pyramid. Followed by a vegetarian potluck dinner, and drumming and dancing around the sacred fire in the Kekuli.  It was dog friendly too so Layla also experienced it. We met some nice new friends.

At Tantalus. Photo: d. king
Lounging at Cedar Creek.  They didn’t seem to mind that I was wearing my Summerhill t-shirt.
At Kismet. Photo: d. king

The other wineries I visited on this trip were Tantalus and Cedar Creek in Kelowna, NK’MIP Cellars in Osoyoos and Kismet in Oliver.  These were over several days as we were staying with a friend in Peachland and then onto the Kootenays to stay with another friend.

Tantalus:

Photo: d. king

Tantalus is known as one of the oldest continuously producing vineyards in British Columbia.

At Tantalus Photo: d. king
Calendar at Tantalus – Dogs of the Okanagan Wineries. I had the pleasure of knowing Fortuna – RIP.  Photo: d. king

I’m a chardonnay lover and heard through the grapevine (pun intended) that they have a really good one.  Yes; they do, but I ended up loving the off-dry Riesling as much or even more so. Which is a surprise because I find most Rieslings too sweet – but this one was just right.  Overall, the view and location is fabulous, the tasting was really good and the art on the bottles is created by Tahitian, Tlingit artist, Dempsey Bob.  I must admit that I like a good label.

Cedar Creek: winner of 2022 winery of

the year award. One more breathtaking view with floor to ceiling windows that look over the Okanagan during a relaxed all-organic tasting.

State of the Art Tastings at Cedar Creek. Photo: d. king
Cedar Creek. Photo: d. king

Kismet

My tasting here, like the name, was meant to be – especially since it was not planned.  A few people have mentioned this winery to me as having unique wines. I was interested in the sparkling moscato as they use a rare orange muscat varietal which is cold fermented, resulting in a crisp refreshing flavour. I opened it over Thanksgiving and it did not disappoint.

Nk’Mip

Photo: d. king

Time in a Bottle. This is my second time at the very first Indigenous-owned winery in North America. Located in Osoyoos – the hottest and driest part of not only the Okanagan; but all of Canada.

Nk’Mip. Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

The spectacular Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre (pronounced in-ka-meep) is a state-of-the-art interpretive centre of architectural marvel sensitively constructed into a hillside. Discover the fascinating stories of Canada’s only desert and share in the rich living culture of the Okanagan people.  Websites below:

https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/

https://tantalus.ca/

https://www.kismetestatewinery.com/

https://www.nkmipcellars.com/About-Us

I hope you enjoy the photos.  Let me know if you’ve been to any of these wineries or if you have a favourite winery in your area.

Header photo: d. king

The kekuli. Photo: d. king

Living Wine + Living Well

The Rio Theatre is alive and well. So is the Canadian “Living Wine” premiere I attended there last night with a delightful pre-show wine tasting. The VIP wine tasting experience highlighted a number of thoughtfully curated living, biodynamic, and organic wines from local producers and distributors. Plus a special glass of Else Wines’ ‘Muscat on Skins.’

You’ve got to hand it to the Rio.  This multidimensional independent theatre is a Vancouver classic!  It has it all. Although it was touch ‘n go for a while it’s now going stronger than ever. I just found out about the wine tasting/film combo by attending a movie there the week prior – Downton Abbey “A New Era” – which was fabulous.

Summerhill Selectiona few of my favourites shown here! Proprietor Stephen Cipes was instrumental in fighting for organic practices for wine making in the Okanagan, B.C.  A true pioneer.  It’s happening little by little.

There’s so many great things about the Rio.  For starters it’s conveniently located steps away from the Commercial Drive/Broadway Skytrain Station if you want to leave your car behind.  They show everything from Cult Classics to must-see feature films.  They have live entertainment including comedy and burlesque festivals, local musicians and fashion shows.  Also Live Satellite for Oscars, Grammys, UEFA Euro Soccer and other events.

They have the best concession in the city and they serve only real buttered popcorn – the absolute best!

 “LIVING WINE” the documentary must-see for wine enthusiasts:

This documentary merges sweeping wine country footage with insightful interviews with wine makers. Filmmaker Lori Miller showcases the dynamic natural wine movement that is transforming a growing number of Northern California vineyards.

The natural wine movement in the U.S. is about 25 years behind the organic food movement, and “Living Wine” follows innovative natural winemakers in Northern California who stay true to their disparate and unique artistic and ecological visions, while managing to save their businesses during the worst wildfire season on record.

As we start to learn about farming grapes naturally – no chemical inputs of any kind – our experts: Dr. Tim LaSalle (Center for Regenerative Agriculture) and Elizabeth Candelario (Mad Agriculture) explain that chemicals used to make ammunition for bombs during World War II became repurposed as synthetic fertilizer after the war, and that agriculture is a major cause of climate change as the tilling of soil causes carbon release and soil degradation, and the use of chemical inputs (fertilizers pesticides, and herbicides) contaminate our waterways. We later learn about the processes used to make conventional wine – lots of additives and manipulation of flavors in the production process.

The doc delves into farming techniques, philosophies, and spirituality.A must-see for wine enthusiasts.

More ABOUT the Rio:

Built in 1938, the Rio has been fully restored with a state of the art digital projector, surround sound, a huge stage for live events, and 420 comfortable seats (with adjustable arms in case you’re on a date).

In 2012, The Rio won a hard fought battle with the BC Liquor board, to change the liquor laws so that movie theatres could serve alcohol. Since the BC Liquor Laws were changed in 2012, The Rio has full bar service with a wide range of local Craft beer & cider, local organic wines, mixed drinks & cocktails, plus their signature artisan Grilled Cheese sandwiches!  Pretty amazing, right?

I mean…c’mon!

Local boy Ryan Reynolds helped save the Rio.  The actor was a vocal supporter of ongoing efforts to secure funding for the historic venue and stave off a bid from a potential new owner that could have seen the demise of the theatre.

He tweeted: The Rio Theatre in Vancouver is legendary. Spoiler Alert: I plan to be buried there. 

An Instagram message from Ryan Reynolds:

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/blog/ryan-reynolds-offers-surprise-video-message-to-help-save-vancouver-s-legendary-rio-theatre-watch-1.4724376

Photos: d. king

Living Wine Trailer:

Rio Calendar: