Heart of Wine Touring at BC VQA Wine Information Centre
By Roslyne Buchanan
The first BC VQA store, the BC VQA Wine Information Centre’s pulse still beats strongly given the highly qualified staff and proactive approach to changes in the industry. Its Penticton location has moved several times, however, it remains an important hub for wine enthusiasts.
Annual Open House
This Saturday, noon to 5 pm, attend the Annual Open House to see for yourself why this location is a must stop in touring Okanagan wine country. At the Open House, four wineries including Checkmate Artisanal Winery, Forgotten Hill Wine Co., Indigenous World Winery, and Upper Bench Winery and Creamery will be pouring complimentary tastings. Plus, enjoy live music with Wayne Llewellyn; a booking signing with Raphael Nowak, author of Okanagan Lake; meeting the artist Brittney Bidlake; and tons of food samples and prizes.
Non-Profit Supports Wine Industry
Centrally situated in Penticton, the BC Wine Information Centre was the first to have a license to sell exclusively BC VQA wines on behalf of those wineries participating in the program. It is owned and operated locally by the non-profit BC Wine Information Society and governed by a Board of Directors since it opened in 1996.
Knowledgeable staff have a mandate to sell and promote BC VQA wines and visitors find the store an invaluable information gateway to British Columbia wines and wine touring. You’ll also find an amazing array of wine and culinary related merchandise so it’s your go-to in seeking a good bottle from the largest selection of BC VQA wines in the region or a unique gift for a special occasion. There’s even a Bridal Registry.
You can shop with a conscience knowing that all retail profit – after operating costs – returns to the community as wine industry-related charitable donations and scholarships to viticulture programs at Okanagan College. For example, $300,000 was donated in 2014 to the Centre of Excellence for construction of a new Wine Sensory Lab that has become an educational hub for the college’s Food, Wine, and Tourism Program.
Onsite Educational Opportunities
In addition to supporting wine industry education, the BC Wine Information Centre hosts events to assist customers in getting to know more about BC wines.
Recently, I attended Small Wineries / BIG FLAVOURS tasting with Terry Meyer Stone and Andrew Stone. A fun and informative evening, they generously shared stories about their experiences working in the grape growing and wine industries. Along with their own Mayhem Wines Inc which made its public debut at the tasting with Pinot Blanc and Cabernet Franc, they featured wines from other small producers including Black Market Wine Company Collusion, Coolshanagh Chardonnay, VinAmité Cellars Gamay Noir, and Forgotten Hill Wine Co Syrah.
Limited to a small group of eager participants, the session was entertaining and hearing firsthand from folks on the frontline of small winery production was truly enlightening. We learned about the Garagiste North: Small Wine Producers Festival. Terry organizes it in partnership with talented Kelowna author Jennifer Schell, who also is a Garagiste. It’s an exciting opportunity to get familiar with a diverse group of small lot wine producers. For details see www.facebook.com/garagistewinefest/
Watch for more tasting seminars like this over the winter:
Festive Fizz with Katherine McEachnie, 6 to 8 pm, November 29 – Join Master of Champagne Katherine McEachnie for a sampling of great sparkling wines and learn about what to look for when choosing a bubbly. Her tips help you select the best fizz for the festive season.
BC’s Big Reds with Sandra Oldfield, 6 to 8 pm, December 6 – Explore the big, bold red wines of BC with Sandra Oldfield, of Elysian Projects and former President, CEO, and winemaker of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. She knows wine, BC wine, and what it takes to make big, full, red wines in the Okanagan Valley. Join us for this very special tasting with one of the Okanagan’s biggest wine stars.
Seminars and special tastings often sell out fast so to make sure you’re in the know, subscribe to the email newsletter at http://pentictonwineinfo.com/index.php/newsletter or follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bcwineinfo/
Featured photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.