2012 Summer Adventure: Okanagan Wine Tour

Sorry it’s taken so long to get this up, please check out my previous post on a little background on the annual summer adventure if you are interested :)

 This year, one of my besties that I have known since elementary school – I won’t even go into how many (many) years that is – recently moved to Kelowna, so I thought, what a perfect opportunity to make an excuse for a visit… and a wine tour! E had a few weeks off work at the beginning of June and I had a family wedding in Vernon June 9, so we decided that this year, we would make it a week (more or less) of family and fun.

 E has family up in Kamloops so she headed up there for a few days and then we met up with L in Kelowna on Wednesday June 6. Well, some things kind of fell through last minute, and long story short, we ended up staying in a hostel because L was in the middle of an impromptu move – it ended up being a total BLAST and we met some really fun people! So the plan was: Kelowna June 6/7, Vernon Jun 8/9 and hit the road back home Sunday June 10.

For those of you not familiar with Kelowna, it’s the largest city in the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan is a region in south-central BC, stretching nearly 250 kilometers from Enderby to Osoyoos. Well known for its hot summers, scrumptious fruit orchards and more recently its wine, Okanagan vineyards account for more than 90% of all wine produced in British Columbia and is Canada’s second leading wine producer.  Here you can find nearly every style of wine across the whole spectrum of sweetness levels and with over 200 wineries, the Okanagan region’s unique weather allows more than 60 grape varieties to be grown, including (but not limited to) Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Ehrenfelser, Syrah, Malbec, and Zinfandel.

I highly recommend an Okanagan wine tour for those of you who live close enough to visit. Many wineries have unique and delicious food services available showcasing gourmet local cuisine, served either inside the exquisite wineries themselves or on spectacular patios, all with impressive lake and valley views.We did a tour with Un-corked Okanagan and they were absolutely fantastic! The experience was so positive, I’m going back again {this year} with the hubbs to do another tour :) One of the owners/hosts, Jim, currently serves as a Director of Tourism in Westside and is a plethora of information on the wine industry in the Okanagan, they pick up at most hotels in the area and their website was too easy –check it out (linked above) or their Facebook page for more info: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Kelowna-Wine-Tours-Uncorked-Okanagan/119681701413738

 

We started off the morning of June 7 at 9am, and with coffee in hand, we strolled the Kelowna waterfront. Jim picked us up at the lovely Delta Grand for 10, where we headed off to our first winery of 8 that day, to kill a little time before meeting up with the rest of the group. This is when E and I decided that we may as well purchase at least one bottle per stop – yes, I came home with a case in my trunk :) Jim kindly upgraded our tour because there were two small groups who booked different tours that day, so we ended up going together instead (getting lunch included) and meeting some new friends.

 We did the bottleneck drive tour, and the wineries we visited (in order) were:

  • Mt. Boucherie
  • Greata Ranch
  • Sleeping Giant
  • Thornhaven
  • Dirty Laundry
  • Sonoran
  • Sumac Ridge
  • Mission Hill

After our first stop, we met up with the rest of the group and hopped into the new Mercedes van with our host, Herb. It was a full day of wine and laughs and we were on the road from 10am – 5pm. With about a full glass of wine at each place after the generous number of tastings, needless to say, we were a bit “tipsy” by the time we stopped for lunch at Sonoran – the tastings may be small, but they sure do add up!

Herb was such a fantastic host! It takes an exceptional kind of guy to drive five women around (half drunk, mind you) and put up with all their shenanigans :) Another special touch that Un-Corked offered was that all day, Herb was taking photos and by 6am the next morning he had sent us each an email with a link to over a hundred fun-filled pics. Thanks again Herb!

So, after a long day of wine, we curled up in our bunk beds and hit the sack to prepare for a day of shopping and the 1 hour (hung-over) drive to Vernon.

  

We arrived in Vernon a bit early on Friday, so E and I decided to take in a local attraction that caught our eye… Planet Bee. What attracted me was, on the flyer it said “wine tastings” – of course :) Who knew that you could make wine out of honey! So we drove up the winding, dusty road and arrived at Planet Bee for our “mead” tasting. Made from fermented honey and water, mead can be produced from various different honeys, flavoured with spices or fruit, and made to be very sweet, very dry or anywhere in between. Good thing we each had a space left in our boxes, because we couldn’t leave without a honey-wine as well :)

  

To top off the week, we attended my cousin’s wedding. It was a lovely, private, casual ceremony overlooking the river, and with an open bar to conclude the trip, after 5 solid days of drinking, needless to say, I’m on a no-booze cleanse for the next 45 days. At this time I’m on day 27 (pat on the back) and going strong. For those who love their wine as much as I do, you will sympathize with me that it’s incredibly difficult to hold back when you have a case of spectacular, hand picked wines sitting on your counter waiting for you! Wish me luck that I make it to July 27!!

– B


 

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