After almost a week in the Kootenays we had a meeting in Kamloops and decided to head down the Okanagan Valley for the weekend. This trip was both to visit some friends that we rarely see since moving to Vancouver and also to re-stock our depleting wine inventory (also a problem since moving to Vancouver). We left Kamloops and spent the first night in Vernon followed by a night in Kelowna and a night in Penticton. Along the route we stopped at five wineries to load up.
Vernon to Kelowna
Arrowleaf Cellars official opened its doors in 2003 part way through our 5 year stay in Salmon Arm. While we were aware of the grand opening because we lived in the area the winery itself is not well known when compared to other Okanagan institutions. It is located in Winfield, BC along the same country road as Blue Nun and Grey Monk wineries. Since it opened we have been fans of the Arrowleaf Bacchus which blends Riesling, Sylvaner and Mueller-Thurgau. It is fresh and fruity and a perfect patio sipper at the bargain price of $13. We were sure to stock up. At the winery we also tasted and purchased the First Crush Rose ($14) and the award winning Solstice Reserve ($25) a blend of 53% Zweigelt and 47% Merlot grown on the steep, gravelly slopes of Suncrest Vineyard and not at the West Kelowna vineyard.
The next day we visited two wineries in south Kelowna on the bench overlooking the lake – Cedar Creek Estate Winery and Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Summerhill derives its name from the Great Pyramid of Egypt (get the full story here) and is committed to producing 100% organic wine. The vineyard is now in the process of applying for Demeter Biodynamic certification. About 80% of the total grapes used in production are certified organic, and the rest are in a transitional organic status on their way to being certified. We tasted and purchased the gold medal (95 points) Organic Gewurztraminer ($20) and the classic Pinot Noir ($23). At Cedar Creek we tasted and purchased the Cabernet Merlot ($19) and the Pinot Noir ($26). We also tried the Eherenfelser and the Gewurztraminer but thought we already had enough white wine in the truck since we really drink mostly reds and neither of these jumped out at us. Both wineries had restaurants with great views that would be worth a try if we had more time and both were hosting weddings that day (a Friday afternoon).
On the way to Penticton we stopped at Quail’s Gate and Mount Boucherie Estate Winery. They are located a few minutes over the Okanagan Lake bridge in Westbank on Boucherie Road. Quail’s Gate used to be our favorite stop but it is now probably the busiest winery and restaurant on the route and seems to become less impressive each time. The wine shop staff is knowledgeable and friendly but is kept very busy with little time for interaction. We do love both the Pinot Noir ($25) and for special occasions the Old Vines Foch Reserve ($39) and both made their way into our wine boxes. The highlight of the stops was at Mount Boucherie. We actually stumbled upon this winery on a trip to Quail’s Gate when we lived in the Okanagan and it becomes more of a favorite each time. It has a small family operated tasting room and staff that has time to taste and discuss the wines with you. Yes, they taste sometimes too. The 2004 Mount Boucherie Cabernet Franc is our favorite wine according to Jeff’s handy dandy iPhone wine app. On this trip we were able to get three bottles of the 2005 vintage ($25). We also tasted and purchased the Zweigelt ($17) and the Pinot Noir ($19).
We also have a few favorites on the Naramata Bench and in Penticton (Lang, Blasted Church, La Frenz) but did not have time to visit. Perhaps in the fall when we may be able to add Oliver and Osoyoos (Burrowing Owl, Tinhorn Creek, Nk’mip).