We just got back from a trip out west where we completed a small “cross Canada” adventure. Some day, I swear, we will do the full drive, but with only two weeks off from work, we were both on a mission to just drive through Alberta and BC and somewhat take our time.
Since becoming so interested in wine, I’ve dreamt (and day dreamt) of visiting the Okanagan Valley. Firstly, it’s located in one of the most beautiful parts of Canada and secondly, we don’t really get a chance to try their wines here. We just started getting a few Okanagan wines at the LCBO, but a small taste only makes you want more, right?
We started this portion of our trip after camping for a week in the mountains of Alberta, so arriving in Kelowna and seeing our friends felt like the luxurious light at the end
of the tunnel. Not to say we didn’t enjoy our time camping, but getting to sleep in a bed after 6 days of cold, hard ground sleeping was a slice of heaven. Our friends Jordan and Kelli have family in Kelowna, who we stayed with on the Friday evening before heading to our air bnb in Peachland for our planned wine tours. They are these kind of people: didn’t know whether we’re more fish, meat or veggie people, so they cooked it ALL. It was a drool-worthy home cooked/barbecued paradise. Good thing we hit the liquor store and bought a few types of wine for pairing! They made barbecued pork tenderloin with homemade applesauce, sautéed veggies, corn on the cob, baked potatoes (with various toppings), and wild BC salmon with a mango salsa. We paired this with a sweeter red called Lava from Volcanic Hills in the Okanagan (contains a bit of ice wine) and L50 oaked Chardonnay, also from Okanagan because of course we’re going to indulge while we’re here. Perfect pairings for a perfect meal and evening.
Early Saturday, we headed to our sweet little air bnb in Peachland. This little gem had views of Okanagan Lake and lush forestry. From here, we hopped on our scheduled bus for the tours.
First stop, The Hatch. This winery had a more relaxed feel and was geared towards a younger crowd. Their wines were different from any I’ve had from Okanagan thus far. They served us a few different styles, the most memorable being an orange wine called ‘Door Hinge’ and a sparkling rosé that was sabred open in front of us, called Octo.
Second stop, Quails’ Gate. WOW- a true beauty. This winery’s vineyards stretch across the Okanagan and grow fantastic grapes. We tried several wines here, including a Merlot and Chardonnay, both approachable and popular. Even keeping in mind that we don’t have ample space to bring back a bunch of wine, I caved and bought the Merlot.
Third stop, Mission Hill. Now, this one can be controversial. Many people say this winery is stuck up and on its high horse. If my word means anything to you, don’t believe those people. This winery is a combination of world class wines, breathtaking views, historic cellars, as well as some of the best food in the world. At Quails’ Gate, we were told that
their restaurant is ranked among the top 15 in the world and takes weeks to get into. If that’s the case, damn I want to try that place, but let me be real when I say that our dining experience at Mission Hill, to this day, is the most incredible experience and bestfood I’ve ever had. Where do I start? The view… ahh that view. Overlooking the Okanagan Lake and vineyards on one side and the massive stone (wine) sanctuaries on the other, sitting on a castle-like patio all while being spritzed by misters on a hot day is already a great start. But then came Bradley, our server. What a cool guy. Very down to earth, knowledgable and the perfect delicate balance of attentive, interactive, and distanced. Finally, the food (and wine) Omg the food and wine. Like I said, this was the best food I’ve ever had, so attempting to put that into words is a bit tough. The wines are known to be world class, and paired with the right dishes certainly clarify the right to brag. After glancing over the menu and enjoying a few good conversations with Bradley, we ordered our wine to pair with both the appetizer and main. Bradley brought all bottles to the table and gave background and tasting notes to each of our glasses as if we were the only people in the world to have the experience of tasting this wine. It was incredible. I decided to pair my entire meal with the reserve Chardonnay.
We started with beef Carpaccio topped with blueberry compote, oats, bitter greens and truffle aioli. Carpaccio is already my top choice for an appetizer, and this was everything and more. For the main, the four of us couldn’t resist the pasta special. A handmade spaghetti topped with a mushroom cream sauce with smoked duck breast, parmesan flakes and bitter greens. This dish was so delectable that I actually started tearing up. I guess it makes sense to think about the best food you’ve ever tasted bringing you to tears. The synergistic combination of the taste and dining experience truly were world class.
Woof, sorry for bragging about Mission Hill forever, time for the fourth winery: Indigenous World Winery. The only indigenous winery that exists and might I say, a beautiful one at that. The winery itself is located higher in the hills, but also overlooks the Okanagan. They have very different wines, for example, an Ehrenfelser, and a wine called ‘Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin’ for the winery owners son who is heading to school for winemaking. Their best wine in my opinion is the rosé, which was off-dry and refreshing. A very notable winery with a rich history and meaning behind every single wine.
And finally- Rollingdale. They have boasting rights of being one of only two certified organic wineries in the Okanagan, meaning absolutely no pesticides used in the growing/maintaining of their grapes or any point of the winemaking. Rollingdale offers some different styles of wine as well. The generalized taste from these wines was a little
more pure and earthy than those made with pesticides, which is a treat. They offer mostly unoaked wines (steel vats) with few options for oaked wines (small section of oak barrels). We specifically enjoyed their three different types of ice wines (one red, two whites).
What an experience! We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to explore even a small portion of the Okanagan and enjoy some of the top notch foods and wines it has to offer.