Okanagan Road Trip

This past week was a road trip with my family in the Okanagan. I did get a chance to visit a few wineries I already knew, and to visit some new wineries. With Kelowna as our home base, we drove as far north as Vernon, and as far south as Osoyoos. In Kelowna, I had to show my family the beautiful views from Mission Hill Family Estate winery’s grounds. It is always so nice to look over the lake and Kelowna from the patio restaurant. On the wine tasting side, I was privileged to taste a 2003-2006 vertical of Mission Hill’s top wine, Oculus. Although I didn’t have any notes written, I can tell you that the 2006 was “feminine” in style with a beautiful flowery bouquet. The 2004 and 2003 Oculus was my favorite by a slim margin over the 2006 Oculus. 2003 was a very hot year in the Okanagan, and had the horrible forest fires we all remember. The heat made the fruit very ripe that year, so you get lots of fruit to balance the tannins. The 2003 still has good tannic structure with fruit and I’d give it a few more years to soften. It is a wonderful wine. You might want to see if they are selling any through the Library releases. I think you have to go to the winery though to buy their Library releases.

On another day trip, we went to Nk’Mip desert cultural centre and the Nk’Mip winery right beside it. The cultural centre was very interesting, and has a nest with an Osprey parents and chicks. The nest is on the top of a tall pole, so bring your binoculars. My favorite wine on this tasting of the Nk’Mip winery was their NK’Mip Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir 2007. Again no hand written notes, but I remember strawberries with smoke aromas and flavours. Buy some if you can.

On another trip, we spent some time tasting wines at Sumac Ridge Estate winery in Summerland. While there I tried my first ever sparkling Gewurztraminer. It was quite refreshing. I bought a bottle so that I can try it back home with some seafood this summer. I also enjoyed their Chardonnay and their Cabernet Franc from the Black Sage vineyards. Quite elegant.

Another day was spent at Volcanic Hills winery, Beaumont Estate Family winery, and Kalala Organic Estate winery. I found out that the owners of Volcanic Hills winery were co-owners of the Mount Boucherie winery. They just opened their tasting room 3 weeks ago. Most of the grapes were purchased from what I could tell. The Volcanic Hills Pinot Gris was quite nice. Round mouthfeel with juicy ripe fruit flavours. This is their first vintage of their reds and whites. I am looking forward to trying their next vintages and see how they define their style.

If you like wines made from organically grown grapes, there is Beaumont Estate Family winery, which is right next door to Volcanic Hills winery, and there is Kalala Organic Estate winery (who BTW let Volcanic Hills use their equipment for vinifying their first vintage). Beaumont is a family run business with the daughter of the family making the wines. They have a wide range of wines from Pinot Gris, to Pinot Noir, to Gamay Noir, and more. They noted that Pinot Noir seems to like their soil the most, so expect to see them concentrate on this wine. I was really looking forward to Kalala Organic Estate winery, since I saw them last June. They have won several medals this year for their red and white wines. I really liked their Riesling 2008 vintage. It had crisp acidity, pineapple and apple aromas with a hint of petrol. It won a Gold at the 2010 New World Int’l Wine Competition in California, a Silver in the 2010 Concours mondial de Bruxelles, and a Bronze at the 2010 Northwest Wine Summit. Buy this wine before it sells out. On the red side, if you have not tried, give their Zweigelt 2008 a try. This red grape provided sour red cherry aroma and flavour, and a bit of maraschino cherry too. Soft tannins also with Zweigelt. This wine won 4 different Bronze medals this year. Check out Kalala’s website http://www.kalalawines.ca/wine/index.php for all their medals.

That is all for now. I wish I had more time to try more wines while I was in the Okanagan, but being with family is also nice!