Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Report from ... British Columbia Day 11 & 12 Finishing Up – August 1-2, 2008

For my mother's 70th birthday she wanted to travel the Okanagan tasting wine ... I being the curious wine writer that I am decided that sounded like a really good idea ...

With only two days to go we had finished our list of wineries, shocked that we were able to do as many as
we had in only 10 days. Now it was time to go over those lists again, and through a few brochures, to make sure we hadn’t miss any that we wanted to hit. So on the night of July 31st, mom and I found ourselves poring over everything we had picked up along the way. Lo and behold we had missed a few, be it our fault, their fault, it doesn’t matter, with the weekend ahead we had to make a few pits stops to make sure we made all efforts to visit ALL the wineries of the Okanagan.

North we traveled, passed the construction Highway 97 to get to First Estate and Hainle (these two were just around the corner from each other north of Peachland). First Estate was hard to find, and once we did they had a huge sign that said they were closed – no other explanation given. Hainle, which had been closed due to illness and a no show on the day we did their neck of the woods, (Day 7) was one we finally got into. With the time marching on towards a road closure we decided to make a pit-stop in the bustling hamlet of Peachland, think Niagara-on-the-Lake without the expanse of cute shops. But we did find a very good place for lunch at the end (or was that the start) of the main street: Gasthaus Restaurant proved to make a good salad and fish and chips. From there we made our way to Hijas Bonitas, which we had just totally missed on our “South of the construction day” (Day 8) – and more fantastic scenery. Dinner was at a Greek/Mediterranean place called Theo’s – too much good food … we rolled home.

Our last day proved to be a very frustrating day. With a few wineries, and other places, we wanted to visit being either closed or sold out … but lunch was a fantastic Thai meal at a little hole-in-the-wall called The Hungry Monk, which had been recommended to us over and over, and it was just bad luck and timing that kept us from getting in for a meal sooner. This was even better than our previous Thai dinner at Iyara a few nights previous.

Wineries Visited in Order:

Friday … First Estate (closed), Hainle Vineyards, Hijas Bonitas.

Saturday … Kettle Valley (sold out of the recommended Old Main Red),
Van Westen (ghost winery), Therapy (sold out of Pink Freud), Howling Bluff.

Pottery shop with a huge OPEN sign, turned out to have no o
ne answering the knocker at 11:30 on a Saturday morning.

Wines of Note:

Hainle Vineyards
2003 Z3 – Zweigelt/Merlot/Pinot Noir ($26.95)

Hijas Bonitas 2004 Merlot ($25.00); 2006 Rosa ($21.00)
Howling Bluff 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($18.70)

By the Numbers:
12 Days

77 Wineries Visited or attempted to visit

72 successful visit – doors open, wine poured
400+ wines tasted … lost count.

Final Thought: The trip was so worth it - I recommend taking the time and visiting as many wineries as humanly possible ... but do keep in mind that prices for wines are high, both at the wineries and in some of the private liquor stores. Value always remains t
he key to visiting a winery; that and neat-o finds of wines you can't get anywhere else ... but remember no matter what the winery staff tells you, or how many awards a wine has won - it's not a value unless you believe it is.

Also, VQA stores are great to venture into, and a big treat for someone from
Ontario, sometimes they have the wines that have already been sold out at the winery. And every bottle on the shelf is BC VQA product, every bottle.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Hi Michael

Yes we are a bit of a ghost winery with no tasting room but with a phone call we would have happily poured you our wines under a cherry tree on the property.

Cheers and until next time

Robert Van Westen

Van Westen Vineyards