John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide

The third edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour guide is now available. I received my copy about a week ago, and I’ve been slowly reading through it. My bedside book. Eventhough I travel quite regularly to the Okanagan, it is still a pleasure to read through John Schreiner’s book as I learn something about a winery I did not know, or he covers a new winery that I have not yet visited. Some new wineries in the book include Beaumont Family Estate winery, Volcanic Hills Vineyard & Cellars, and Ancient Hill Vineyards & Winery.

This book is good for those of you who are new to the Okanagan winery scene and need to get up-to-speed quickly. John provides 1 – 1.5 pages of text about each winery, and his recommendations for which wine(s) to try from each winery. What I also like is that it has the address, telephone number, website, and visiting hours for each winery.

This third edition, provided updated and revised information of the already established wineries plus info on 40 new wineries since the last edition. What I also like, is that the book has a map showing the locations of all the wineries he covers, plus he talks a bit about different “regions” within the Okanagan, such as “The Golden Mile” and “Naramata Bench“. You may want to know what makes the Naramata Bench unique? Is it the soil? The direction the slope of the land faces; is it the proximity to Lake Okanagan? Useful info in this section.

If you want/need more details and history about these wineries, you may want to purchase John Schriener’s “The Wineries of British Columbia“, which covers both Okanagan wineries, plus the wineries in the Fraser Valley, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island.

Enjoy the summer and enjoy some wine touring in BC!

Hester Creek wine tasting

Last evening I was selected with a few other bloggers to sit down with Rob Summers, the wine maker from Hester Creek Estate Winery, in downtown Vancouver. Rob comes originally from the Niagara region in Ontario working for larger wineries, and has moved to the Oliver area in BC in 2006, to work for the boutique winery, Hester Creek. It sounds like he really enjoys all the hands-on work and the wonderfully dry Okanagan climate. Hester Creek is one of the oldest wineries in BC.

Hester Creek Estate winery, besides having 95 acres of vineyards for producing wine, also has 6 villas for visitors. I’d say one of the most famous visitors from last year staying at a villa, is the renowned wine writer, Jancis Robinson. The villas and new winery buildings opened up last year, so if you have seen the winery from August 2009 or older, you haven’t seen their latest and greatest operation.

We went through 3 white and 3 red wines. The first white was the Pinot Blanc 2008. This is Hester Creek’s best selling white, along with their Pinot Gris. The Pinot Blanc was pale lemon colour with a slight green tinge. Light aromas on the nose. Some spice, some apple, some honey. Light in body with a light apple flavour and medium acidity. An easy sipper. The next white was their Semillon Chardonnay 2008. This is a 50/50 blend. This wine had some lemon, some sweetness, some waxiness and greenness on the nose. Medium body with slight roundness in the mouth. Apple and lemon flavours. The final white of the evening was their Trebbiano 2008. Trebbiano is the second most planted grape in the world, and is used in the production of cognac. It is known for it’s high level of acidity. This one had light green apple and floweriness on the nose. Light body, with almond and apple flavours, and good acidity. The acidity made it a nice pairing with some of the hard cheeses they had for us to nibble with the wines.

On the red side, we tried their Merlot 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot 2008, and the Reserve Cabernet Franc 2006. The first two wines were not overly extracted in colour, giving them lightness in body. The Merlot 2008 had a very wild nose, with sausage, smoke, plum and cherries. I quite enjoyed nosing this wine. On the palate it had medium tannins, with plum and cherry flavours and a slightly oaky finish. The Cabernet / Merlot 2008 is their best selling red. This wine is light garnet in colour, not an overpowering nose. Red fruits with a bit of sausage aromas. On the palate there were cherry flavours with light tannins. The final red wine of the night, and my favourite, was the Reserve Cabernet Franc 2006. Cabernet Franc doesn’t get the limelight that Cabernet Sauvignon gets, but if it is made well, is an exceptionally nice wine to drink. This wine being reserve level was deeper garnet in colour. Vanilla and cedar on the nose. Firm tannins, with a round mouthfeel. Red cherry flavours, with medium length and cherry finish.

Again, thanks to Rob Summers for leading us through this tasting. If you are out in the Okanagan, drive down to the “Golden Mile” in Oliver and visit the Hester Creek winery. I did record the tasting, and will be posting it on hopefully soon. Enjoy!