Salut: Falling for wine – Sept. 20, 2014

By Anthony Gismondi

The air is crisp, the sun is warm and the vineyards are purple. Ita��s harvest time across the vineyards of British Columbia and we celebrate the arrival of fall at Salut with a look at rich wines, richer recipes and the upcoming 34th Okanagan Wine Festival that gets underway early next month. Ita��s been a stellar growing season for grape growers in 2014 and at this point wineries are simply waiting on final flavour development before harvesting what should be a very fine quality vintage.

Picking early has many advantages, not the least of which is completing the harvest before the rains begin in earnest. It also means plenty of crush activities will be underway at wineries throughout the Okanagan Wine Festival giving you even more incentive to attend the festival and visit a winery.

There is simply no comparison between a midsummer winery tour and a visit during crush. The energy level is off the charts as all hands are literally on deck picking, sorting and crushing grapes before the all-crucial ferments get underway. If you are planning on a trip to the Okanagan to attend the fall festival our advice is to set some time aside to visit some vineyards and enjoy the harvest crush in between the scores of events that will take place across the valley.

But with so many events to choose from, we thought we would screen the list and publish a short selection of some of the best events based on their description and our knowledge of the property and players involved. If you are like me, if Ia��m going to go to the trouble to attend an event I want to learn something new and second I want to have some fun. Too many events are conceived to sell something or publicize a wine or winery with little thought about what the attendees may want to get out of it, especially given the hefty ticket prices for many of these events.

When it comes to wine, I want to meet the people who move the needle at the winery and that usually means the winemaker, the viticulturist or the owners. I also want to taste the wines that made them famous, not a bunch of wines they are trying to clear out. I prefer vineyards to tasting rooms and cellars to tasting rooms, in fact just about anything to tasting rooms unless it raining. I love information about how the wine is made, where it comes from, how much it costs and where I can buy it. I know, so many questions and demands, but when consumers are asked to fork out $50 to $100 or more to attend your event, not to mention the cost of getting to the valley and renting hotel rooms for a few days they should expect commensurate value in return.

This year we have worked our way through the lengthy lineup of events that make up the 34th Okanagan Fall Wine Festival concentrating on the main 10 days between Friday, Oct. 3 and Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 13. The results is 10 events we think you can count on. Remember, take some time to simply enjoy the autumn. Pull off the road a find a spot in the warm afternoon sun, feel the earth, smell the air and practise being a grape. You will never look at a vineyard the same way again.


Oct. 3 and 4, 5:30 p.m. | Oliver

A winery tour conducted by owner and winemaker Bertus Albertyn meets our needle mover criteria. There will be appetizers at the winery followed by a four-course dinner paired with Maverick wines at the Chefa��s Table with executive chef Chris Von Hooydonk. The location is Maverick Estate Winery in Oliver. $140 includes transportation, taxes and gratuities. Contact Bertus Albertyn,A�; 778-437-3133,


Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m. | Okanagan Falls

Staga��s Hollow winemaker Dwight Sick and chefs Dana Ewart and Cameron Smith host a magical harvest dinner, in the heart of Staga��s Hollowa��s vineyards. Joy Road dinners among the vines are legendary and when you combine that with all the fun wines coming out of Staga��s Hollow you will have a great evening in OK Falls. Local, seasonal, intimate and sure to sell out. Tickets are $125 all in. Call Linda Pruegger at 250-497-6162,A�;


Oct. 6-8, 11 a.m. | Golden Mile Bench, Oliver

Join proprietor Kenn Oldfield for a vineyard hike through Tinhorn Creek sampling wine and especially prepared canapA�s from Miradoro Restaurant chef Jeff Van Geest. After you have worked up a hunger hiking, there will be a three-course lunch served in the new alfresco dining area in the vines. Tickets are $55 all in. ContactA�; 888-484-6467,


Oct. 5, 2 p.m.| Naramata Bench

Join owners winemaker/cheese maker Gavin and Shana Miller as they take you on a tour through the vines, the winery and the creamery where the cheese is made. Then join the owners as they taste you through a series of wine and cheese effortlessly matched by the makers. Call or email to book. Tickets are $35 plus tax. Contact Tessa SjA�blom at 250.770.1733;A�info@upperbench.caA�


Oct. 5, 1 to 4 p.m. | Naramata Bench

Cana��t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than sipping Terravista superstar whites Figaro and Fandango and possibly some Viognier with owners Bob and Senka Tennant. There will be small bites prepared on site by a�?Brodoa�? chef/owner Paul Ciccone along with live music. If you want to taste thoughtful, compelling wine made with a small footprint, this is it. Tickets are $25 available through Bob; 778-476-6011,


Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m. |Summerland

Join Time Estate Winery owner/winemaker Harry McWatters and his daughter Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, owner-manager of Local Lounge a�? Grille for a family style McWatters wine dinner. Harry is a legend and a wonderful B.C. wine storyteller and if you havena��t had a chance to taste the exceptional, seasonal, local fare of executive chef Lee Humphries this would be the night. It all takes place lakeside in Summerland. Tickets are $75 plus tax and tip;A�events@thelocalgroup.caA�250-494-8855 ext. 225;


Oct. 9, 5 p.m. | East Kelowna

The evening begins with a detailed overview of sparkling wine production including a tasting. Guests will be able to disgorge their own bottle of sparkling wine under the guidance of winemaker Eric von Krosigk. Your hands-on winery experience is followed by a tasting of Summerhill sparkling wines paired with locally prepared organic appetizers. This is your chance to learn more about biodynamic and organic grape production as practised at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Tickets are $80 p/p, $150 couple.A�


Oct. 12 and 13, 5 p.m.| Naramata Bench

I cana��t think of a friendlier place to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner away from home than Hillside Bistro, especially when you can order a delicious Syrah or Viognier or both to accompany the festive bird. Reservations will be offered Sunday and Monday evenings for the three-course set menu that begins with roasted field squash soup, followed by a traditional turkey dinner and dessert. It should be the perfect ending to the 2014 wine season. Tickets are $40 all in. Reservations are a must; price for cytotec in malaysia; 250-493-6274;


Oct. 12, 2 p.m.| Similkameen Valley

Join owner George Hanson and experience a vertical tasting of five different vintages of Seven Stones Pinot Noir in the winerya��s intimate underground cave. The Similkameen is a special environment for grapes and Seven Stones is a good place to begin your exploration of this up-and-coming valley next door to the Okanagan. Tickets are $50. Contact George atA�sevenstones@nethop.netA�or 250-499-2144;


Oct. 3 to 13, 5 p.m. | Quailsa�� Gate

Quailsa�� Gate winery chef Roger Sleiman and the entire culinary team will be pulling out the stops with freshest fall ingredients paired with all new fall release wines. The four-course paired menu is a study in wine and food matching and a great opportunity to try the new wines of winemaker Nikki Callaway. Cost is $85, plus taxes and gratuity at Old Vines Restaurant. For reservations contactA�; 250-769-2500;

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