• Last week I posted a wine journey written by my sister. Here is part two.

     

    Despite the name Okanagan sounding like something Eskimo’s sleep in, and me being more North than I ever remember, the weather was quite perfect. It was warm enough for shorts during the sunny hours and sweater weather as soon as the sun had set.

     

     

    Side note from her brother: She went to Banff once (further north), at the age of 6 or 7.
    Honestly I had never really thought too much about the geography of growing capabilities in Canada before, other than knowing that California had amazing wines and that was much more South. As it turns out, the Okanagan Valley is the same latitude as Champagne, France! The seventy mile Lake falling dead center, helps moderate the climate along the valley, producing several micro-climates scattered among the varying terrain. The first planting of grapes in British Columbia here was over 150 years ago in 1859. Sadly the mission is no longer producing wine, but some ancient sacramental wine does sound mighty delicious.
    At this point it is my turn to drive again so my research comes to a temporary halt and my race to find Kelowna wine begins. Some extended time later, we arrived at a stretch of town, which after driving through miles and miles of wilderness felt like we were in an undiscovered land. An Atlantis.
    Without using internet for directions (international roaming charges, eep) it took us awhile to find our way around town but we made it to West Kelowna and found a strip of road baring flags of grapes and wine glasses. We had finally made it! Pulling a couple illegal turns we got to our first Kelowna Winery, Beaumont Family Estate.

     


    We walked into the winery and had some time to ourselves as the place was unoccupied, apart from a tasting bar, fermentation tanks, and a peculiar painting of Elvis Presley hidden in the corner. A girl our age eventually appeared from the back and made her way over. She started to ask us the pronounced tasting room questions: “Where did you come from?” “Where else have you tasted today?” but after responding that we were from Portland and just drove 5 hours from Vancouver. She laughed and got to it. We tasted an off dry Gewurztraminer, a barrage of Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir wines, along with a duo of fruit forward Roses using the latter stated grapes. Mid way through our Rose tasting a boisterous group comes in following what I learned to be later as the winery owner. Our last taste of the flight was accompanied by lots of laughter and a chorus of karaoked Elvis songs, led in tune by the winery owner and a guitar that appeared from somewhere amongst the tanks and wine.
    We didn’t end up with any bottles but there were a few among the trail that caught our attention, Volcanic Hills Estate Winery being one of them. The ash in the soil surrounding the once active volcano gives this winery an edge up on delivering subtle character notes and wide variety of grape varietals, one being Zweigelt (Austrian), which they used in a Late Harvest wine as well as a complex red.
    Along the stretch we ran into a lot of Austrian varietals, which made it difficult to remember all the wines we tried seeing as how there was no way we could pronounce it, let alone spell it later.
    The winery that brought us to Kelowna in the first place was at the end of the road, literally, Mission Hill Family Estate. The estate was massive and just the architecture alone was jaw dropping. It was definitely a production as the sheer magnitude of the tasting room created wine tasting into a store like experience, but add in the underground Bordeaux likened cellars, landmark worthy stone architecture, scenic views, and it was definitely a site to behold.