From the Lakeshore News August 2012:
BY ALAN CAMPBELL, RICHMOND NEWS OCTOBER 5, 2012
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.
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.
IF YOU GO
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.
What a grand fall day ….. perfect for a 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Last night I had my Mother over for dinner – she enjoys coming over on Wednesday night because its sailing night and we are entertained by the various races and wonderful colours of the boats. My sister and her husband race on Wednesday nights and we try to figure out which boat is theirs. Last night they were mostly becalmed, so it wasn’t as exciting as usual. I served a lime grilled chicken with mushroom risotto and some of our fresh Okanagan asparagus. I have to say I was a little worried about which wine to serve – the lime can destroy so many good wines. But I served Alibi from Black Hills – it was perfect has enough structure to stand up to the caramelized lime juices and it just couldn’t have been a better choice for the meal and my Mom.
Yahoo summer is finally here!!!
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!
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
Ahhh, Finally the weather is warming up in the Okanagan. Yesterday, I drove down to Osoyoos for a wine tour – the weather was clear and warm and I had some of the most beautiful summer scenes of the lake as I drove. It always reminds me of why I love this area so much. All the wineries are running full steam ahead at the moment – the new releases are out, which is an exciting time for us and our clients. There are 3 new wineries this year in the Osoyoos area, Adega, Robin Ridge and Gold Hill. Just as soon as I think I am getting familiar with all the offerings in the South Okanagan something new arrives – it is just always such fun each time.
The Tour went well yesterday, the ladies at Silver Sage Wineries are such wonderful entertainers the big groups just love their warm hospitality and the sweeter fruit wines seem to be easy on everyone’s palate. The new Tasting Room at Black Hills looks close to completion, and Hester Creek has some great new special tastings that we will be able to take advantage of this year – all in all a great new season for Wine Touring in the Okanagan
21st Annual Gold Panning Championships – May 18 to May 20
- Games all day for everyone!
- Pan Toss
- Gold Rush
- Claim Staking & Dirt Toss
- Pancake breakfasts
- Saturday barbecue dinner
- Evening music and dancing in the outdoor kitchen
- and more
Gold Panning Competitions for Juniors, Teens, Novice, Intermediate & Experts
Youth under 16 – $5.00, Adults – $10.00
Where? Goldpanner Campground & Pioneer Village 423 Highway 6, Cherryville
Falkland Stampede – May 19 TO May 21
Get ready for a bronc-busting good time.
The 94th annual Falkland Stampede bursts out of the gate Saturday, with the action continuing until Victoria Day Monday.
Rodeo action begins at 1 p.m. at the Highway 97 stampede grounds, while it starts at 2 p.m. Sunday.
On Monday, there is a heavy horse pull at 10 a.m. and the rodeo at 1 p.m.
There will also be a kids’ calf scramble all three days and a cowboy church at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students and children under six are free. An adult three-day pass is $40 while a family-day pass is $45.
For more information, call 250-375-2577 or go to www.falklandstampede.ca
Highway 97 Falkland BC
Vernon Jazz Club – May 19
Located above Nolan’s Pharmasave in downtown Vernon in a heritage building featuring wood-panelled walls, hammered tin ceilings, linen-covered tables, soft candle light, a small dance area, and a full-service bar.
DOORS OPEN @ 7:15 / MUSIC @ 8 PM
TICKETS can be purchased The Bean to Cup Coffee House 3903-27th St or The Bean Scene Coffee House 2923-30th Ave
Where? Vernon Jazz Club – 3000 – 31st Street, Vernon BC
When? May 19 2012 @ DOORS OPEN @ 7:15 / MUSIC @ 8 PM
Vernon Farmers’ Market – May 24
At the Vernon Farmers’ Market, you will find in-season, fresh and delicious fruits, vegetables, breads, pastries, meat products and prepared meals . From the various artisans at the market, you will also find fresh cut flowers, handmade pottery, jewelery and more!
Where? WESBILD CENTRE PARKING LOT (3445 43 Ave)
When? May 24 2012 @ 8 am – 1 pm