Weekend wine tour a great way to spend Thanksgiving
Here is a brief update of what the first days and weeks of the Thanksgiving holiday have brought.
First, the traditional dinner that Tammy and her team at the seniors centre provided for all us old happy campers.
Honestly, I don’t enjoy buffets with too much food swirling on my plate, but this feast was tops in taste and presentation.
The mashed potatoes were the creamiest of my entire life and the turkey so young and fresh and so lightly seasoned.
I don’t know the baking time, but that bird was perfect. The carrots were firm, the corn was crisp. The rolls were warm and the pumpkin tarts tasted home-made.
There was not a lump in the gravy and we old girls appreciate the days of work that were required to put that holiday kick-off in grand style on the banquet table.
Corrinne gave a lovely blessing that set the tone for the great abundance we all share. Again, bravo to our gourmet chef and her volunteers.
The Thank You Canada Ice Show was another gift to our community. Of course, all eyes were on Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Elvis Stojko almost stole the show and the “Diamond” feature with the entire ensemble nearly reduced me to tears. A night to remember at Prospera Place.
My idea to spend the holiday itself in Osoyoos for the wine festival was positively brilliant.
We toured Road 22, which becomes Black Sage Road and wound up at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, for dinner in the Sonora Room restaurant.
There were few people about, so it felt like a private party and Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed the main course of a roasted whole pheasant, brought in from the Shuswap.
Vegan Squash soup was the starter. The fresh baked sourdough bread was still warm from the oven and the braised savoy cabbage new to me.
The pumpkin mousse to finish was another delight.
I love the Sauvignon 2013 because it is so smooth and crisp. Mike likes Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2017, which is most popular due to the fruity, sweet taste.
There are 10 rooms in the Guesthouse and 140 acres of vines to delight the eyes.
Years ago, I was at the Nk’Mip Cellars opening. Could that have been 2002?
I remember a scruffy look to the land and the buildings. Bannock was being baked outdoors and the focus was all about the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America.
Spirit Ridge today had me shaking my head. Penticton-based architect Robert MacKenzie clearly had a finished vision in mind when he designed the complex. The buildings sit so comfortably on the sloping vineyards and include accommodation, education centre, desert gardens, trails and the patio restaurant, where traditional techniques are demonstrated, and the Sunset Wine Lounge, where we sat to savour the 32,000 acres of Sonora Desert landscape.
The wine shop at Nk’Mip is highceilinged, spacious, and stocked with award winning wines.
In 2016, Nk’Mip was named Intervin Canadian Winery of the Year. Justin Hall has recently been recognized for his skills in winemaking, the first Aboriginal to do so.
We left with more than a few bottles of the 2016 Chardonnay; I can’t taste the buttery finish, but it is an improvement over the 2017 Dreamcatcher, which I find too dry, even though it is very popular.
To further indulge ourselves, we picked out a beautiful ceramic serving piece with bold, colourful brush strokes that will be perfect to feature Mike’s Famous Cheeseballs over the holidays.
Terri Paul is the handcrafted pottery artist and I believe her studio is here in Kelowna.
A highlight of our wine-fest adventure was discovering Hester Creek Estate Winery in Oliver and their 50th celebration.
A pioneer on the Golden Mile Bench, the Mediterranean-style wine shop sits on 95 acres of classic varietals and is surrounded by oak trees, which keep their leaves.
The Old Vines Trebbiano was sold out, as was the Rose Cabernet Franc. We passed on the big, bold, pricey The Judge and settled for several bottles of the 2016 SyrahViognier. This wine actually has flavours of tobacco and coffee. We will go back to Hester Creek (Gehringer Brothers is right next door on Road 8) again, I know.
It has it all; a sense of intimate space, cooking classes, a Tuscanstyle restaurant, and six Mediterranean-style Villa suites.
I had no expectations for our personal wine tour other than to spend a night or two out of town. My memory of the brief experience is that it was absolutely fabulous.
Many of the wineries are already starting to blur in my grateful heart, however. Desert Hills had a huge dog reclining in the driveway. Black Hills had palm trees at the entrance.
Stoneboat was too homey; looked like a deserted RV park.
Here’s The Thing Vineyard was a brightly coloured yellow wineshop with a cactus garden at the entry.
I think it was The Blue Sky Winery that featured a neon sign. Cassini Cellars, 2017 Winery of the Year, is where we will start next time.
The two-hour drive from our front door to the Watermark Beach Resort is just the beginning. Ignore the many fruit stands and the huge signs along Highway 97 and take the side roads up to the benches. There the hills are bathed in fall light and the colours will soothe your soul. Truly an Eden in our own back yard.
Jeanette Dunagan has lived in Kelowna for more than 40 years. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. it