This year’s trip to the Okanagan took us to seven wineries: some new to us and some old friends. We stayed at the fantastic Morbrook Farms B&B in Oliver this time around. Oliver is a cute little town with lots of parks, farms, and surrounding vineyards. Unfortunately at this stage Baboon Reviews does not have a section for restaurant reviews but in case any readers are contemplating a trip to Oliver, avoid Savvios Greek Restaurant! It is overpriced with appalling decor and mediocre food. Do visit the restaurant at Tinhorn Creek as an alternative!
Back to wines! Our first stop was at Oliver Twist. We took home a bottle of their 2008 syrah, which I found to be a bit too peppery but which PB loved.
The next day we got out our bikes and took to the Kettle Valley Railway, which is luxuriously flat and went right by our B&B. It took us to the bottom of the (very doable) hill up to Burrowing Owl winery. This is a gorgeous must-visit winery with a fantastic view of Oliver. If you are wine touring on bicycle and like us it didn’t occur to you to bring lunch, definitely plan to have lunch here. The prices were reasonable for such amazing food with local & organic ingredients (pesto linguine with roasted lemon for $17; dungeness crab salad for $15; delectable lemon tart with fruit for $10). But wait, we were talking about wine! We found the wines a bit on the pricey side and since we were biking and only brought one panier, we opted for just one purchase here: the 2008 cabernet sauvignon, which I found very fruity and PB found “too jammy”, but I won the argument 🙂 Next it was off to Church and State winery, which has a newly opened tasting room on its Okanagan vineyard (its other is on Vancouver Island). We both loved the modernity of the tasting room but were really taken aback by the price for a tasting: $8 for 4 wines! We decided to share a tasting and found the pours big enough. The host was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, patiently answering all of our lay-people questions, and even gave us an extra tasting on the house. I wasn’t blown away by any of these wines but PB loved the 2008 syrah and I saw potential in the 2007 meritage, so we picked up two bottles here. Then it was on to Silver Sage winery, which gets the reward for most eccentric wines! Notably, they have a gewürztraminer infused with sage and tastes like you are eating Thanksgiving dinner! Not something you’d want everyday but another couple in the winery told us they had it with their Christmas dinner last year and it went down very well. They also have a number of fruit wines (blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry) and an aperitif gewürztraminer to which they have added a crazy hot pepper and is a real experience to taste. We got a bottle of their non-infused, plain-old gewürztraminer, which I found was really grapefruity and yummy. I also liked how Silver Sage does not add sulfites to any of its wine and maybe it was our imaginations, but it seemed that their wines had a more full-bodied, clean taste.
We left Oliver the following day and headed to Kelowna, stopping at three wineries along the way. First was Wild Goose, purveyors of the delicious gewürztraminer that we had at our wedding. I loved this winery. It has been family-run since the early 1980s, when the land was bought and cleared by the now-grandparents in the family. The tasting room is really small but the owner was really friendly and glad to talk to us about the history of her winery. And no tasting fee! We even got to meet grandma who was a really fun, feisty old lady. I could have bought several cases of wine here: I really thought they were outstanding. We ended up with the 2010 Autumn Gold and a bottle of their 2009 pinot noir, which we didn’t taste but couldn’t pass up! Next we headed over to Quail’s Gate on Kelowna’s West Bank. Quail’s Gate is such a gorgeous winery but I was really disappointed in their new tasting prices since the last time I was there: $5 for 4 tastings, waived if you buy two bottles of wine (every other winery I’ve been to waives the tasting fee if you buy just one). To their credit, they did have two free tastings: a merlot and a chenin blanc. We sucked it up and decided to taste more and the ruse worked: instead of paying the $10 for the tasting fee we thought that money would be better put towards wines which we would inevitably drink. I was disappointed with the wines we tasted there. PB and I absolutely love their 2005 and 2009 pinot noir, but nothing blew us away this time. Still…we were obligated to buy four bottles (or pay tasting fees) so we ended up with their 2010 chasselas/pinot blanc/pinot gris blend, the 2010 gewürztraminer, a 2008 merlot, and another bottle of the 2009 pinot noir for the cellar. Our final winery for this trip was the very friendly and small Rollingdale organic winery, one we love because of their absolutely delicious pinot noir ice wine that we picked up the year before last. We were very disappointed to learn that they had just sold their last bottle but that there were several cases just sitting there reserved for people with groupons! Agh!! Torture. So we had to settle with their 2007 reserve pinot noir and a two bottles of their Tumbleweed Red, which is made up of a bunch of leftover wines that they just throw together and hope for the best. I thought it was delicious and at $13/bottle, hard to pass up!
So that was our Okanagan wine trip for the year! Now we have some drinking to do!