Okanagan

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Okanagan Fall Wine Festival Gold Winners 2010

GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

WINERY | BRAND NAME  | VINTAGE

Arrowleaf Cellars First Crush Rose 2009    Blasted Church Vineyards Chardonnay Musque 2009   Cassini Cellars Pinot Noir Reserve 2007  Cedar Creek Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2008  Church & State Wines Hollenbach Pinot Noir 2007  Desert Hills Estate winery Syrah Select 2007  Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery Siegerrebe 2008

Hester Creek won gold for Fall Okanagan Wine Fest.

Hester Creek Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007  Inniskillin Okanagan Dark Horse Vineyard Riesling Icewine 2008    Intrigue Wines Riesling 2009    Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Reserve Dry Riesling 2008    Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Riesling 2008    Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Merlot 2007     Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Reserve Shiraz 2007     Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Shiraz 2006     La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc 2009      Lake Breeze Vineyards Pinot Gris 2009     Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio 2008   Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Riesling 2007     Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007    Painted Rock Estate Winery Merlot 2007  Peller Estates Family Series Chardonnay 2009   Quails’ Gate Winery Optima Late Harvest 2008      Road 13 Vineyards Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2007      Rustic Roots MULBERRY PEAR 2008    Sandhill Pinot Gris 2009    Sandhill Small Lots Barbera 2007    Sandhill Small Lots Petit Verdot 2008    Sandhill Small Lots Syrah 2008     See Ya Later Ranch Brut N/VSilkscarf Winery Viognier 2009      Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery Raspberry 2009     Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Oldfield Series Syrah 2007      Twisted Tree Vineyards and Winery Tempranillo 2008

Download the Full Winners’ List, including Silver and Bronze Winners HERE

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British Columbia’s emerging Okanagan Valley has the makings of a serious wine regionWine Spectator, November 2010 Wine Country Travel Special

By Lynn Alley [Excerpted from Wine Spectator]

In late September, the terrace restaurant at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is filled with suntanned tourists wearing shorts and sunglasses, sipping local wine, eating, enjoying the stunning view.

But this view isn’t over the lush vineyards of Napa Valley. The happy visitors are in Canada, looking south over the Okanagan Lake in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

The vineyards at Mission Hill Winery look down on Lake Okanagan.
Although Canada’s wine industry was prominent first in Ontario, its British Columbian arm has blossomed in recent years. The most successful wines from this western region come from the Okanagan Valley, a four-hour drive inland over the mountains from Vancouver, or a short flight from Seattle, Vancouver and other nearby Canadian cities to the tiny international airport in Kelowna, “gateway to the Okanagan.”     Read More On Wine Spectator….
Profiles and listings for thousands of wineries around the globe. 

Wine Spectator Monthly Pick:Cedar Creek Estate Winery, Okanagan Valley, BC

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Orofino Vineyards Releases ’09 Pinot Noir, ’08 Gamay

In one of those, “Be sure to get it while the gettin’s good,” kind of times,Orofino Vineyards, Similkameen’s popular Strawbale-constructed winery and host of the upcoming 1.6 mile farm-to-table dinner, just released their limited production Pinot Noir and Gamay vintages.

2008 Pinot Noir

100% estate-grown Pinot Noir from our 10 and 20 year old vines. This voluptuous wine has spent 16 months in the best french oak barrels. Rich dark fruit on the nose with a hint of smoke and spice. The palate shows nice black cherry and strawberry notes with classic floral and earthy complexities. This wine is built for food and will pair well with a variety of foods. Think duck or mushroom dishes. It is ready to drink now but will reward those who can hide it in the cellar for a year or two.

200 cases produced

2009 Gamay

100% Gamay grown from a small vineyard a stone’s throw away from our winery. We crushed and fermented the grapes in a small fermenter, then aged it for just 4 months in 1 year old french oak. The result is a bright and deliciously fruity red with a hint of black pepper and a supporting touch of oak. This is not Bordeaux! Super versatile with food and sure to be a great summer wine. Try it with barbequed pork tenderloin or a savory salad with some walnuts or almonds thrown in. Don’t think about it too much. Just enjoy it!!! We only produced 60 cases and this will sell out very quickly so act fast!!  It will be available in our tasting room July 9th if there is any remaining!

60 cases produced

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John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide

Wine Of The People, By The People, For The People

Schreiner’s 3rd Edition is out May 1st 2010,
Updated and Revised

Just in time for the Okanagan’s Spring Wine Festival, John Schreiner’s 3rd edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide, is out in book stores May 1st 2010.

Schreiner’s guides to wine offer an approachable and friendly introduction to the region’s winegrowers, winemakers and proprietors of the ever-expanding Okanagan Valley wine community in addition to the wines themselves.

In the book’s Intro, Schreiner tells you upfront that he didn’t write the book for “technicians,” but rather for people who enjoy drinking wine and for the people who make the wine that we enjoy drinking.

“Wine is not a clinical product to be separated from the people who grow it. The art in wine is what attracts both consumers and wine growers,” writes Schreiner in his Introduction to the book’s 3rd edition. The first edition was published in 2006 and already there are a good many new additions to the Okanagan winery fold, with more wineries planned and building underway.

“In most of the tasting rooms I have visited, everyone is having fun, especially during wine festival time,” writes Schreiner, reminiscing, “During the Okanagan’s Spring Wine Festival 2005, I was lounging on the deck at Jeff and Niva Martin’s La Frenz winery, savouring a glass of Shiraz…”.

This is the context, a context of place, time and people in which John Schreiner uniquely can immerse you when it comes to the distinctive regions and wines of the Okanagan. His perspective dates back 35 years when he first began touring the region in search of good wines. The Okanagan’s current vibrant wine industry really only dates back to the late 80’s/early 90’s so Schreiner’s insight is one that lends itself to developing right alongside with the then-nascent wine industry of the region itself.

The book delves into the various regions of the Okanagan. The Okanagan Lake itself is 135 km. stretching more or less N-S from Penticton up to Salmon Arm. The wine growing regions are dotted all along there and stretch down, past Skaha Lake, into the Golden Mile and Black Sage Bench areas of Oliver and then down into Osoyoos, around Lake Osoyoos which spans the U.S./ Canada Border, and then a bit West over into Keremeos and Cawston, known as the Similkameen Valley.

Wonderful Lake Okanagan wineries and vineyards, British Columbia

His book beguiles you with the charms of Naramata Bench, a wine-growing region overlooking the expansive, beautiful and pristine Lake Okanagan; delves into the people with a dream some of whom are just selling their first ’09 vintages in time for Spring Wine Festival 2010, kicking off today in the Okanagan. He gives you a brief background on valley influentials such as Elias Phiniotis, Ron Taylor, and Howard Soon. He also takes you into the past with historical anecdotes about B.C.’s oldest continually operating winery (since 1932), Calona Vineyards, and forward into the future sharing with you certain family’s plans to plant on the northern perches of Salmon Arm, where the nearest vineyard at Larch Hills is at B.C.’s highest elevation of 700 meters/ 2,300 feet.

Winner 2009, VPIWF, Spirited Industry Professional

Most importantly, however, Schreiner will introduce you to the people who have chosen to build their lives around the vine, to make the best of the hand that Mother Nature deals them season after season. With this kind of an introduction to a region’s wine, you can’t help but fall in love with the ones that please your palate, and keep returning year after year to see what magic has been bottled in this year’s new vintage.

*Note Book’s Wine Speak Glossary at the end is very helpful and is sure to make you sound like you know what you’re talking about when you’re in the Tasting Rooms.

John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide (2010), 161 pgs.

Available in Bookstores and Online Now

For More On Schreiner visit: John Schreiner’s Blog

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Burrowing Owl Estate Winemaker, Bertus Albertyn

Bertus Albertyn, Burrowing Owl Estate Winemaker,
Photo Courtesy Gord Wylie

Burrowing Owl, the 140-acre property that sits at the crown of the Okanagan’s Black Sage Bench’s Road 22, has a new winemaker. His name is Bertus Albertyn.

Bertus is a South African native married to a Canadian physician who took his post at the South Okanagan property, owned and run by Chris Wyse, in January earlier this year. There he will make the wine from the 125 acres of vineyards under cultivation that produce approximately 30,000 cases each year. Mind you, even at this volume of production, relatively large for the Okanagan, you’re likely only to be able to find a bottle of Burrowing Owl, nearly any variety, any vintage, at the winery’s wineshop itself or at select restaurants in B.C. There’s just too much demand for it to be able to keep the VQA liquor stores continually stocked.

Burrowing Owl Vineyard Management, Photo by Randy Lincks

“It’s a breath of fresh air to come here to Canada,” says Bertus. “Here in B.C. we can’t produce enough grapes to fulfill B.C. Consumption.”

It’s a good insight into British Columbia’s young wine industry, if a relatively modest one. Recently we asked Bertus what the secret is to making great wines:

“Winemaking itself is generally a simple process. If you have good quality grapes you are going to make a good wine. The key is to take yourself out of the equation as much as possible.”

Since we’re thinking there might be just a little bit more to winemaking than that, we cajoled Bertus into talking to us a bit longer to see what gives.

“It’s important to know when to take the grapes off the vine. And temperature control,” he conceded. He hastened to add that the practices he’s following at Burrowing Owl Winery since coming on board in January have been in place there from the beginning. “With a cellar producing such a great product for so long, the systems that have produced the wines are to be treated as such. These practices are not something new for the cellar.”

Burrowing Owl Long-timer,  Fernando Bottoni ,
Photo Courtesy Gord Wylie
Fernando Bottoni (long time cellar worker), Bertus Albertyn, Joey Matias (long time cellar worker), Emmerick Keller (Plant Manager) and Scott Stefishen (Assistant Winemaker). Missing is Pat Johnson. Photo by Gord Wylie.

South African Roots

Bertus Albertyn looks – and is – still young but has a lifetime of grape growing under his belt. He has a degree in Viticulture and Oenology. He worked at two vineyards in South Africa, the Wellington Cellars, a large operation that bears the same name to the Wellington Wine Growing Region in South Africa and which “produces as much grapes there as in all of Canada;” and the Avondale where he learned organic winemaking and vineyard management “approved by Mother Nature” at this small family-owned winery.

International Vintages

While working in South Africa he did a vintage in Sonoma, a vintage in Italy outside of Venice, and two in France, one in Crozes-Hermitage at Alain Graillot, and the other in the South of France, Domaine Des Anges. “I did the harvest in France, Italy and America while I was working South Africa. I would do a crush every 2 years in a different part of the world to broaden my knowledge of winemaking. This also helped me to broaden my vision and taste,” Bertus told us. So the fact that the seasons in Canada are inverted to the seasonal changes in South Africa doesn’t phase him; it’s something he’s learned to work to his advantage.

The Winemaking Touch

Bertus’s approach to wine is a tactile one: “I’m fond of smelling wine. But at the end of the day you have to drink the wine. It’s about the enjoyment of the palate, the fullness and softness of the wine.”

He said it’s the post-fermentation maceration that yields a softer, rounder wine and this can also help with the age-ability of the wine. He’ll also tell you that the sooner you can interject oak into the wine, the better. Then he “ages it at least 18 months.”

Of course, it really all begins during the harvesting and then the crush. “We’re lucky here because of the cold nights. The grapes go into the cellar cold. When you can start at a low enough temperature then they can’t peak very high. It’s important not to let the temperature go up to 35 c. – that can kill your yeast. If you can increase your temperature during fermentation, you double your ability to extract,” he explained.

Not everyone in the Okanagan uses a sorting table. In fact, it’s a very distinctive choice that a winemaker makes. Bertus uses a sorting table. When asked if this goes counter to his philosophy of “taking yourself out of the equation,” he responded:

“We’re not changing anything. We’re just taking out the debris. We’re just doing a better job. Leaves are a very bad thing because they’re green. We’re destemming. But we’re not totally crushing. And of course we use only ripe grapes. No green grapes,” he said with a laugh.

For his white wines he’s also fond of a more “old-world” style of wine making. He’s quick to point out that South Africa has a long heritage of grape growing. One of the wineries where he worked dates itself back to 1693 when it was established.

“Our whites are whole-bunch wines. We do no de-stemming,” explained Bertus. “The stems are actually used as a filtration system to yield cleaner wine. Our pinot gris and chardonnay are all more old-world, lightly settled and have a ‘darker ferment.’ With a dirtier juice you have more flexibility in fermentation. More glycerines give more body in the wine. New world wines, for example, are all de-stemmed. That creates up-front fruit flavors.” Bertus went on to explain that the whole bunch press delivers a juice with a lower solid content; cleaner juice, in fact, than destemming.

Jim & Midge Wyse – Proprietors of Burrowing Owl Estate Winery; Photo by Gord Wylie

Burrowing Owl Vineyards is also known as a green winery. Named after the regionally endangered species of Burrowing Owl, when Midge and Jim Wyse purchased the vineyards in ’93, they created a custom of donating $2 for each tasting at the winery. That $2 goes towards South Okanagan Rehabilitation Center For Owls and to the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C. They’ve donated more than $250,000 to date.

Jim and Midge Wyse, Proprietors, Kerri Wyse McNolty (center) and Chris Wyse, President (r) Burrowing Owl Estate Winery; Photo by Gord Wylie

Re-use: All wine bottles used in the wine shop and in the restaurant operations are cleaned out and re-used at the winery. They use an alternative pest control system. And The Sonora Room, the on-site restaurant, adheres to a less than 100-km local food supply philosophy, a philosophy and a tradition at the Sonora Room that their new Executive Chef team will continue on beginning May 1st when they re-open for full time summer season hours.

Black Sage Road, Oliver, B.C., Canada www.burrowingowlwine.ca

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Okanagan Winetripper iPhone App

by Jeff Pennal

Every year my wife and I take a tour through the Okanagan hitting many of our favourite wineries, tasting and purchasing many bottles of wine, and basking in the glory of the majestic interior, with its breath-taking scenery and lovely lakes.

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Last Spring, we decided to take an early trip through the Okanagan to pick up some more wine and enjoy the beautiful spring blossoms in the orchards – we had stopped at the local tourist info centre and grabbed a handful of winery brochures and maps of the wineries and we were off.  We discovered that there were some downfalls to using the maps – the hours were not listed nor their open season.  We were there early in the spring and some of our favourite wineries were not open!  This is when we decided to create an iPhone App that would eliminate the need to stop for maps and brochures altogether.

Wine Tripper has a great map of the wineries in BC, a comprehensive list of those wineries including their address and hours of operation, and a place where you can make notes on the wines you have tasted and your opinions.  My wife’s favourite aspect of the Wine Tripper app is that when you pull up the map of the area the red dots indicate wineries that are closed and the green ones are open – this eliminates the extra time and disappointment of driving by a winery that is closed for the off-season.  I like that you can easily get a listing of the wineries that are closest to you based on proximity.  You will like that the Wine Tripper BC iPhone app costs only $2.99 to buy and will save you time and make your wine touring much more enjoyable!

Check it out at http://www.bennalsoft.com/winetripper

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Chef Rod Butters

What’s your specialty?

“Rod Butters is the consummate Canadian-born, Canadian-trained, Canadian chef, the kind that will eventually- and not all that far down the road – create what we’ll come to call Canadian cuisine.” –   Jurgen Gothe, Food and Arts Critic

The Okanagan Valley is bursting with culinary talent.

Just nibbling on the local cuisine reveals this as self-evident. And because the valley is fast becoming known as the nation’s breadbasket, it’s easy to indulge in locally sourced and fresh, seasonal ingredients.

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Rod Butters

RauDZ Regional Table

Butters has shared the kitchen with such admired chefs as Kerry Sear at Four Seasons and Bernard Casavant of Château Whistler, whose similar philosophies of using local farm-fresh products and their own home-grown herbs and vegetables influenced him greatly.

Rod then went on to open the world famous Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino as Chef de Cuisine in 1996. His innovative cuisine and high service standards quickly helped the Inn’s Pointe Restaurant attain the internationally recognized Relais & Chateaux designation.

After a year long journey around the world in 2000, he returned home to BC to share his culinary experiences and open Fresco Restaurant & Lounge in Kelowna. As Chef /Proprietor, and the current President of the Okanagan Chefs Association, Rod has been instrumental in promoting the growth of culinary tourism in the Okanagan.

Since opening its doors in June 2001, Fresco Restaurant & Lounge is proud to have been awarded the following prestigious achievements among others:

Four Diamond Award 2002 – 2007: awarded by AAA North America.

Provincial Restaurateur of the Year: Fine Dining 2002/2003 awarded by the BC Restaurant & Food Services Association

EAT BC Restaurant of the year Award 2008

The importance of Rod’s commitment to establishing regional BC cuisine has earned him international respect. Long before it became “trendy” to serve regional food, Rod has always been committed to this effort. He has always maintained the importance of “giving back” to the industry, and this is attested to by the long list of current successful culinarians that he has mentored and inspired.

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4 thoughts on “Okanagan

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