By Roslyne Buchanan.

Light snow is falling as we wind up Green Mountain Road to Apex Mountain Resort from downtown Penticton, a roughly 40-minute picturesque drive on a well-maintained ski road. Skiing gets me excited whether it’s those first few tentative runs as the hills open to find your ski legs for the season, mid-winter crisp, cold powder days or the lesser clothing layers of spring.

Skiing at Apex Mountain Resort. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Today, we’re especially excited with the milder temperatures combined with an unexpected fresh snowfall and a special reward at the end of the day: Vertical and Vintages. In its 8th year, Vertical and Vintages is a highlight of the season at Apex and presented in collaboration with the Naramata Bench Wineries Association.

Tightrope Winery participated in the Naramata Bench Vertical and Vintages. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Our plan is to get in a solid day of skiing before checking into our room and cleaning up for the evening event. Apex is lesser known than other Okanagan ski hills yet is a full-service destination resort. As stated on apexresort.com: It is “located in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, features the perfect mix between large amounts of precipitation and low humidity that makes for the lightest champagne powder snow imaginable. Smiles stretch from ear to ear, as locals and visitors alike hoot and holler among the glades & open terrain, leaving clouds of powdery snow to lightly settle behind them. With an average temperature of -4 C, Apex receives about 600 cm of dry Okanagan powder each season.”

In the Apex Lodge lobby, we enjoyed the fire and comfortable seating area. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

The varied terrain is serviced by a high-speed detachable quad chair, a triple chair and T-bar as well as a Magic Carpet for beginners and tubers. There’s over 2,000 feet of vertical, 79 marked runs, 40+ unmarked runs, 4 terrain parks, and 5,000 hectares of backcountry terrain. For hours of operation and ticket prices see the website.

Apex Lodge, once a low budget hostel underwent extensive renovations. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Dining and snacking opportunities in the Village include The Gunbarrel Saloon and Dining Room, The Cafeteria, Longshot Wine & Tapas, The Edge Bistro, and Frosted Snowflake Bakery & Café. Shop The Mountain Shop, The Rental Shop at Apex, and The Trading Post at Apex – “Your Everything Store”.

Delicious tapas and charcuterie boards created by team at The Gunbarrel. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

We had a great morning of skiing sampling most of the intermediate runs and a couple black diamond. Occasionally, the clouds would part and the sun peek out to reveal blue skies. We took a break and checked out The Mountain Shop we learn demo skis were available to try. So, after a restorative lunch at The Edge, I tried out some Blizzard skis. What fun to try before you buy! While I haven’t taken the next step of purchasing them yet, I really did feel like the updated technology improved my technique – or at least my confidence.

Austin at The Mountain Shop, Apex, convinced me it was a great day to try demo skis. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

At the Apex Resort Snow School, certified and friendly instructors can teach you how to build confidence and skill on the slopes – with an emphasis on skiing safely, responsibly and with style. Apex is also known for its Freestyle Training area.

The Village at Apex Mountain Resort offers shops and dining options. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Rippin’ Rascals provides child-minding for children aged 18 months to 5 years, where they’ll be entertained with a combination of indoor and outdoor activities depending on the weather.

The Adventure Skating Loop at Apex Mountain Resort. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Other onsite activities include the Skating Rink, Adventure Skating Loop, Tube Park, Night skiing, Snowshoeing and Ski Touring. Just down the road is the Nickleplate Nordic Centre.

Sleep at the Hill

Accommodations are operated by Okanagan Skyrun, okanagan.skyrun.com. Choices range from standard hotel rooms to executive chalets with many properties providing ski in/ski out access. When you book your accommodation through Apex, you receive discounts on lift tickets, rentals, lessons and for select retail outlets.

Comfortable bed in our room at Apex Lodge. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Thanks to assistance from the NBWA, General Manager James Shalman and his team at Apex, we stayed at Apex Lodge. Once a low budget hostel, it has been extensively renovated into comfortable rooms. Along with our comfortable bed, the room included a mini fridge, microwave, Nespresso maker, flat screen television and private bath. In the lobby, a comfortable common area had cozy chairs and a fireplace for socializing.

What a lovely sanctuary to reboot before the featured event.

8th Annual Vertical and Vintages with Naramata Bench Wineries

This year about 18 members of the Naramata Bench Wineries Association (NBWA naramatabench.com) participated. If I recall correctly, present were Bench 1775 Winery, Black Widow Winery, D’Angelo Estate Winery, Deep Roots Winery, Four Shadows Winery, Hillside Winery, Kettle Valley Winery, La Frenz Winery, Lang Winery, MOCOJO Winery, Monster Vineyards, Red Rooster Winery, Serendipity Winery, Singletree Winery, Terravista Vineyards, Therapy Vineyards, Three Sisters Winery and Tightrope Winery. Among the representation were the most established wineries in the region along with some of the newest wineries.

Nice buzz in the Gunbarrel for Vertical and Vintages 8th Annual. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Delicious tapas and chefs’ specialties were created and served by the Gunbarrel’s gourmet kitchen team to accompany the wines. Food stations were distributed throughout the two rooms to facilitate guests having the opportunity to attend the booths of all the wineries in attendance.

Delicious tapas and chefs’ specialties created by team at The Gunbarrel. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

A diverse and outstanding selection of tastings of the NBWA wines were served including white, rose and red. The inaugural popping of a Pretty Woman Sparkling Wine for Three Sisters Winery was a special and delectable surprise.

At Vertical and Vintages, Three Sisters Winery popped a new release Pretty Woman Sparkling Wine. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

The casual atmosphere provided a relaxed setting to learn what’s new this season on the Naramata Bench. As spring arrives, the events ramp up once again through into autumn. Watch for menu launches at winery restaurants as new chefs take over the helm and tried-and-true chefs return refreshed for a bright new season.

Chefs’ specialties created by team at The Gunbarrel to pair with wine tasting. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Tastings and tapas were presented from 7 to 9 pm. After the event, the Gunbarrel Saloon and Restaurant hosted live music by Uncorked. Participants wasted no time hitting the dance floor to round out a perfect evening and work off a few of those calories.

Blades Through the Glades

After a good night’s sleep, we had the option of hitting the slopes once again or strapping on our skates to carve a few blades through the glades on the Adventure Skating Loop.

Skiing at Apex Mountain Resort. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

We’re already looking ahead to plan a return for next year’s Vertical and Vintages. As Shalman says, “Along with Brewski with a focus on craft beer held in February, Vertical and Vintages is one of our most anticipated events. It offers a fun family-oriented weekend with something special in the evening for the adults.”

Apex remains open until Sunday, April 5, 2020 so there’s plenty of time left to play in the snow.

Featured image: Night falls at Apex Mountain Resort. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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Roslyne Buchanan (aka Roz) Roslyne Buchanan is a regular freelance contributor to food, travel, wine, home and lifestyle magazines. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine Trails, WestJet Magazine, OpenRoad Driver, Savour, Niche, Destinations Travel Magazine, My Van City, and blog.hellobc.com. Based in Penticton, she enjoys spectacular views of forests, vineyards, lakes, and hills beyond and regular visits from wildlife. Enchanted by the food and beverage industry and all things culinary as well as recreational pursuits such as travel, golfing, skiing, hiking, tennis and snorkeling. For her it’s the perfect balance to pursue her passion for writing with integrity and joy to share firsthand experiences. Most of her adventures are shared with her husband, Mark and when they’re not out exploring, they are managed by two felines Baja and Floyd. Find her personal blog at www.rozsmallfry.com, follow her on twitter @RozDB and Facebook @roslynebuchanan



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