Okanagan Wine Tours
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First Days in Bangkok

I have a love /hate relationship with Bangkok, I keep coming back this is my 6th or 7th trip but each time at some point I swear to myself that I will never come back. the pollution, the traffic and the unceasing scam artists simply over whelm me when I first arrive.

Then…… the beauty and the  history of the place quietly start to leach into my bones and I remember why I love it here in Asia.

just another day with 13 million people

Recovery Breakfast first morning in Bangkok

Well after 20 hours of flight time and a 3 hour layover in Beijing, we finally arrived in Bangkok at 1 am last night. We were happy to see our bed last night and this morning we are ready for our first adventure in the city. We hope to spend a little time exploring and getting a few little last minute items like a local SIM card so that we can phone and communicate with each other

David and Mary Jo on the Move

So we are counting the days for our departure. I have removed items from my pack to try and reduce the weight… only to add other really necessary items(ha) that increase the overall weight again. So be it, I don’t think I can take anymore out of the bag


Richmond News: Educating the palate in the capital of Canada’s rich wine country


With perfect row upon row of leafy vines sweeping towards a shimmering pool and flanked on either side by soft, decadent cabanas, a double take is needed to realize you’re in one of the hottest, driest slices of Canada.


Located on the mineral-rich Black Sage Bench, the Black Hills winery is in the heart of the “Golden Mile” between Osoyoos and Oliver.


Now widely regarded as the “wine capital of Canada,” the region boasts an embarrassing wealth of legendary labels, not least Black Hills, known best for its Nota Bene, which sold out within three hours of being released.


Black Hills was the first stop on our afternoon wine tour, led by experienced Mary Jo O’Keefe of MJO Tours, who picked us up from our hotel in her leather-seated tour bus.

Educating the palate in the capital of Canada’s rich wine country.

Educating the palate in the capital of Canada’s rich wine country….Richmond News Article

I admit that, although I enjoy and recognize a quality glass of wine, my palate, in education terms, would not have made it out of grade school.


So when we were seated on the Black Hills patio with a small army of empty glasses on our table, I was a little intimidated.


However, Mary Jo had armed us with a cheat sheet of sorts, giving us a nudge in the direction of faking our way through the experience.


To be fair, our sommelier, recognizing connoisseurs we were not, broke down the tastings to a level we could appreciate.


And, honestly, after the third of our fifth taste, we were sinking a little lower into our chairs and basking in the glorious Black Hills vineyard views before us.


The vineyard enjoys deep desert sand, intense heat and cool nights which, apparently, yield “intensely fla-vorful grapes.” After sampling a few of Black Hills best, it’s hard to disagree.


After the tastings, we slid, a little lighter on our feet, through the vineyard store, picking the favourite from the experience and it was back on the bus.


Next up was the Stoneboat winery a few minutes away, which has, wait for it, a stoneboat nestled in the gardens outside.


A more down-to-earth experience than Black Hills, Stoneboat was your garden variety stand-up tasting. Many of their wines are easy on the eye, with crisp, clean colours and also easy on the wallet.


Most of Stoneboat’s offerings cater to a wider palate without sacrificing the quality or character.


After three, or was it four, more tastings, the world was, indeed, a beautiful place with more “prizes” tucked under our arms on departure.


Back on the bus and winding through a seemingly endless array of familiar wineries, we nipped up the hill to another household name, Hester Creek, where we were set up with an appetizer and wine pairing.


Perched on bar stools this time, at a yawning marbletop “kitchen” table, our chef chatted us and another equally “relaxed” couple through the pairing of goats cheese and artichoke dip with a golden, crisp 2011 Pinot Blanc.


The 2011 Character white, however, with a sundried tomato tapenade was a winner for us, as was the unpretentious, homey and sociable ambience created by Hester Creek in its kitchen.


MJO Tours: www.mjotours.com;

1 877 726 6548;

Tours can be booked up to 24 hours notice, but best to check ahead of time.


© Copyright (c) Richmond News

Read more: http://www.richmond-news.com/life/Educating+palate+capital+canada+rich+wine+country/7348643/story.html#ixzz29OHEbfg4

Okanagan Stagette Wine Tour

What a grand fall day ….. perfect for a Wine Tour!

Okanagan Stagette Wine Tour

Okanagan Stagette Wine Tour

17 ladies helped celebrate their friends upcoming wedding in style with a Stagette Wine Tour.  We visited Poplar Grove, Tinhorn Creek and Ruby Tuesday Wineries then finished the day with a wine and cheese platters at Bench 1775.

Okanagan Stagette Wine Tours

Okanagan Stagette Wine Tours

SunRock Vineyard Sunset BBQ a CTC Signature Experience™

Last week, we went to Oliver to showcase our new CTC Signature Experience™ with Jackson Triggs to some of the executive at Watermark Hotel. Driving to Oliver through the rain and wind made for quite a nervous drive – but the skies opened and the sun shone on the vineyard making it a memorable evening.


What a great night it was!! We started with Winemaker Derek Kontkanen and

Vineyard Manager, Troy Osborne talking to us about their work and passion in the making of world class wines – each separate taste was accompanied by intimate knowledge of what went into its creation “…this lot produces Shiraz while mere feet away is a perfect location for Cabernet Savignon…”


The group then indulged in a charcuterie platter of local artisan meats and cheeses – and the piece de resistance the incredible BBQ with our marinated beef tenderloin was savoured by all. But there was more!!! the grand finale was  a vanilla Crème Brulée topped by a fresh strawberry – it was heaven!!


The sun slowly sank behind the hill leaving the light on the vineyards with that breathtaking golden sheen – what an evening. We are so proud to be working with Vincor in the delivery of this extraordinary vineyard experience.


Winery Fun in the Rainy Spring!

While the weather is not cooperating and giving us the warm spring that we deserve – wine tours just shift gears a little and offer fun indoor experiences.


Enjoy a private tasting in the old Wine library at Gray Monk Winery

Enjoy a private tasting in the old Wine library at Gray Monk Winery


Gray Monk has a new offering this summer “a private tasting in their old Wine library”– it has great atmosphere and we can see and touch wine dating back to their opening in the 70’s – younger folk can go pick out the wine of their birth year– quite fun!!   The tasting itself is their top tier wines so a great overall experience – and I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy day than sipping a great wine!

Giving the Cabernet Franc a second chance

...after tonight the Cabernet Franc has become one of my new favourite varietals....

...after tonight the Cabernet Franc has become one of my new favourite varietals....

I don’t know about you but I have never been much of a Cabernet Franc Lover – I don’t know why I just never warmed up to it. But recently we had friends over for dinner, we each decided to bring a Cabernet Franc; we brought the Cabernet Franc 2008 from Popular Grove and they brought a Cabernet Franc, 2008 from Tin Horn Creek.


Both were really delightful – the one from Tin Horn was really approachable, a warm and wonderful glass of wine that we enjoyed immensely – then we open the Popular Grove Cabernet Franc, it also was rich and full of delicious flavours but low tannin so absolutely amazing and easy to enjoy – personally I preferred the Popular Grove but my husband like the Tin Horn Creek as it did have a little more bite to it.


No wonder they use this gracious wine so often in blending some of our wonderful Bordeaux blends!  After tonight it has became one of my new favourite varietals.

Stagette Wine Tour – May 2012

Today was perfect in terms of weather for a tour – Mission Hill simply glowed in the sunshine and everyone’s spirits were up – I think just because we had such a wonderful day ahead of us. Saturday was the day for stagettes – the staff at Quails Gate told me that they had 6 different groups of women all celebrating someone’s upcoming nuptials!

On our latest wine tour at Mission Hill ... it simply glowed in the sunshine!

On our latest wine tour at Mission Hill ... it simply glowed in the sunshine!


This was the Westside Story Tour (the Tale of Mount Bouchiere’s Southeastern Flank) it is a wonderful option for people both in and out of town that want to experience the Okanagan Valley wine industry. With this tour we cover a variety of wineries from one of the largest (Mission Hill), some medium sized wineries – right down to one of the smallest (Rollingdale). Each winery produces wonderful wines, all at different levels – so it is a great way to get a sense of the variety that the region offers!  – MJ