Wineries of BC – Westbank, Kelowna, Summerland and Oliver

Today we spent a lovely day touring the wineries of Oliver.

Earlier in June we spent time while I was here for work taking in the wineries of Summerland where we visited Silk Scarf (and I purchased a lovely red which I’ve cellared for a while), Dirty Laundry where I skulked out and couldn’t bring myself to buy anything (yuck), Heaven’s Gate (Merlot and a great farm dog), plus 8th Generation and their absolutely lovely rose bubbles which I enjoyed with my parents on Saltspring earlier this summer). It is a combination of 50% dunkenfelder, 40% pinot gris and 10% syrah with a creamy mousse. Rose, it has slight strawberry, grapefruit and cranberry. Only $22.50 and defs off-dry.

In Westbank we visited Mission Hill (yes, I admit it AND I enjoyed the experience to boot), Quail’s Gate (you know it for Foch and Chenin Blanc), Little Straw (not recommended for either the tasting experience or the wines), Mt. Boucherie, Beaumont (insanely fun and lovely Merlot) and Rollingdale (located in a Kwanzat hut and great Bordeaux blends with great twists on the names – including one I’ll write about at some time called “Left Bank”” which yes, is all about a Cab Sav based Bordeaux blend.

In Kelowna we went to Calona specifically to taste the Sovereign Opal white they have the copyright too. It literally tastes like the Okanagan – peaches, apricots, refreshing minerality and crispness. We also visited Tantalus where we had a beautiful tasting experience in their stunning reception and bought the Chardonnay.

Today we spent the day touring around Oliver and enjoyed many different wineries. I have to say that telling everyone I work at Vista D’oro is most helpful on the pocketbook (save 10-15%). We started at Hidden Chapel which is not a VQA winery because of the cost, but their wines are really lovely. A boutique winery located on the east facing slopes of Oliver, I bought a ‘White Wedding’, 2011 and a Cab Sauvignon 2009. I’ll review them when I taste them later. This is about the closest we’ll ever come to a chapel together – and it took free alcohol to get us here (see great pic below).

On to the Evil Empire, aka Jackson-Triggs where I actually bought a wine. Yes, I know this likely means I’ll end up going to hell. Oh well, there is something to be said for consistent wine-making which is sometimes only possible when you have such a huge enterprise. I know, I know. Don’t scream at me…I bought the 2007 Sunrock Cabernet Sauvignon. NO, it is not cellared in Canada, so stop protesting. It’s actually grown here, in Oliver to boot. I’ll review at later dates, but it promises to be enjoyable if the tasting was any clue.

Onto Oliver Twist winery which I admit I thought may be a little kitschy for my tastes, but the owners were in the tasting room and were so enthusiastic, how can you not love them for their passion?! We did a tasting and I bought a bottle of their Kerner 2011 which I admit I would have never picked up in a store because it’s a hardy German hybrid (Riesling and Trollinger). But its aromatic almost Muscat aromas and Riesling taste intrigued me. There is something else I cannot place, but I will figure out by the time I write a review on it!

Then it was onto Stoneboat which is where we ran into my colleague Liana’s sister Britta running the tasting room. Interesting wines and I purchased a bottle of their Stoneboat Pinotage Solo Reserve 2010 which was surprisingly brightly fruity along with the gamey tones I expect in a Pinotage. Lovely tasting room – so elegant and beautifully laid out with the original artwork, glass and wood. Beautiful.

We stopped in at Le Vieux Pin, named for the large sole pine standing in the middle of one of their vineyards. Loved their saignee rose and sauvignon blanc blend, but purchased (I am a red addict after all), the Syrah which melted on my palate with spice, softness and roundness. Can’t wait to enjoy it later.

We both really fell in love with Church + State – for different reasons. As my DD, Brian is always looking for reasons to love the wineries, which is challenging as he doesn’t enjoy tasting or drinking wine. At all. I know, it’s beyond me, but it works for me! Church + State turns out to have a Tasting Room Manager who loves The Boss. So does you-know-who. The minute we got there and decided to sit at the outside tasting bar which is beautifully situated under an architect-inspired tent-like sail overlooking Oliver, they turned on Bruce and one of his Hyde Park concerts starting with ‘London Calling’. Heaven, perfection – just add a little great wine for me and we were both very happy. I did their entire tasting and we left with a Pinot Noir and a Syrah. Plus a new appreciation for a wine that has roots in the Saanich Peninsula. We’ve been to their tasting room and vineyard in Brentwood Bay, so it was interesting to read about their tortured past and expansion into the interior. I highly recommend their Oliver tasting room – not only for the view and the music, but the wines are tastefully crafted.

The only stop of the day which was memorable for all the wrong reasons was Silver Sage where we walked in with open minds but quickly beat a retreat. I poured most of the tastings and we left with only a fee behind us. The wines were overly sweet and combined with the sickly used car salesman pitch by the fellow at the bar (whom I would have fired, but is probably related to the owner) was ridiculous. ‘Good luck’ is all I can say.

The Grande Finale of the day was our stop at Black Hills. I had been so looking forward to this after my friend Sean from WSET bought a case of their Alibi, Viognier and Carmenere in the Spring and I bought a third of the case. Today, I opted to do a vertical tasting of their Nota Bene. It was so special and I’ll do a separate installment about NB in its honour.


About winellama

I love wine...and finally decided to do something about it.
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