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

Wine Wednesday: Spadefoot Toad Series

What is Spadefoot Toad you ask?  Aside from being a round amphibian creature with short legs and protruding eyes…it’s one of my favourite red wine!

If you’re a wine lover you must check out these three recently released spectacular, highly anticipated new labels from the coveted Spadefoot Series at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

Keeping it in the family; Ezra Cipes (second generation) is extremely proud to present these wines, made in partnership with grape grower Ron Firman at his idyllic Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC, along with the legendary Canadian artist and activist Robert Bateman, who has drafted an original illustration specially for the labels. Ten percent of the proceeds from each bottle sold supports the Bateman Foundation’s work to nurture the next generation of conservationists.

Robert Bateman “Ocean Rhapsody” Orca Painting

Spadefoot wines are made entirely from organic grapes grown lovingly at Ron Firman’s Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC. Ron tends his small acreage as if it were a garden, carefully applying compost to each individual vine and creating habitat for the at-risk Great Basin Spadefoot Toads to breed for natural pest control.
 
Ron grows pristine grapes that give concentrated, age-worthy wines that truly reflect the care he takes in his vineyard. Each single-vineyard bottling is a special expression of the south facing slope on which his vines are cultivated.
 
If you are searching for the perfect wines to enjoy over cool autumn evenings or to stow away in your cellar for future sipping, look no further! These three distinct bottlings are exploding with flavour and intensity that will only deepen with time.

2016 Spadefoot Toad Syrah
Bold, dark and smooth with notes of blackberry, soft leather, ripe raspberry and black pepper. Forty-seven months of neutral oak aging brings a whisper of vanilla and spice. Firm, gripping tannins and bright acidity buttress the concentrated fruit flavours, providing excellent structure for long term cellaring.
 
2017 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
2017 was a true vin de garde vintage here in the Okanagan. This unique take on a classic Tuscan variety is seductive and velvety, with a juicy core of candied cherry and fresh blueberry notes and whispers of tomato leaf, vanilla cola and baking spices. Exceptional fruit concentration balanced with vibrant freshness!
 
2018 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
Succulent and finessed. A clean, classic vintage with a long and steady growing season resulted in this elegant, medium-bodied Sangiovese. Red and blue fruits dominate the nose, carry through the palate, and are deepened by heady notes of clove and potting soil. Intense and full of soul… perfect for the changing seasons.uan etched, branded wine decanter to show off these wines at their very best.

To date this has been one of my favourites

2014 Spadefoot Toad Syrah

Elegant small lot, single-vineyard expression.  Available here:

https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/product/2014-Spadefoot-Toad-Syrah?pageID=75B3C5AF-E336-E1D7-D4C6-86C645A2D12B&sortBy=DisplayOrder&maxRows=24&&productListName=Shop%20Wine&position=12