Chef Meets BC Grape: Visitors Meet Vista at See Ya Later Ranch
By Roslyne Buchanan.
The road up to See Ya Later Ranch Winery winds its way along the Okanagan River and climbs steeply to reach its vineyards at higher elevation. Intuitively you expect the location will have a view yet nothing prepares you for how spectacular you’ll find it.
What a perfect setting for Wines of British Columbia (BCWI) to present Chef Meets BC Grape: Taste of the Okanagan. It is one of three settings for this series which the BCWI calls the largest tasting of BC wine and food in Western Canada, “celebrating all things grown, crushed, raised and produced in BC.” Earlier this spring events were staged in Vancouver and Calgary.
Proceeds from these events are donated to the BC Hospitality Foundation to provide scholarships and financial assistance to hospitality industry workers in need. For me this makes the extravaganza all the more compelling.
The historic stone tasting room catches your attention immediately. After you check in, get your program with the site map along with a wine glass and convenient wine-glass ready wooden plate, you are set to sip and nibble your way through the afternoon. But not before a glass of BC sparkling wine theatrically sabered.
Roaming through the winery grounds, you’ll find delightful sitting areas, musical entertainment and festival-style tenting featuring about 50 BC wineries and 12 food stations by leading chefs.
Each element weaves together and leverages those jaw-dropping distant scenes like Skaha Lake, Penticton, Okanagan Lake, and the mountains beyond. There’s even a helicopter pad if you have the means to arrive so dramatically.
Included in the ticket along with the abundance of wine tastings, food and wine pairings, and musical ambiance is the option to attend a variety of masterclass wine education seminars and chef demonstrations.
At the pergola, the chef demonstration stage was hosted by Master of Wine Rhys Pender and featured: Chef Roger Sleiman, Old Vines Restaurant at Quail’s Gate Winery, BC Side Stripe Prawn; Chef Bernard Casavant, Terrafina by RauDZ at Hester Creek Estate Winery, Everything Green Stuff Agnolotti; and Chef Stacy Johnston, Ocean Wise, Vancouver, Salmon Tartare.
On the patio of the SYL Ranch Winery, Sommelier Mike Lee hosted wine seminars including: Okanagan Falls/Skaha Lake: The Heart of Wine Country, Focus on Pinot Noir & Chardonnay; Pop, Fizz, Clink: A BC Sparkling Wine Tasting; and Okanagan Falls/Skaha Lake: The Heart of Wine Country, Focus on Pinot Gris & Merlot.
Wineries of Okanagan Falls/Skaha Lake, Summerland and Similkameen with food stations by Chef Matt Allen, SYL Ranch, Bison Short Rib Taco, Handmade Tortilla, Cabernet Mole; Chef Brock Bowes, CrAsian Food Truck/Provisions Kitchen & Catering, Pork and Chicken Sausage, Hoisin, Chicharron; Chef Matt Martin, Liquidity Bistro at Liquidity Winery, Scallop with Celeriac Kraut, Juniper and Kelp; and Chef Stacy Johnston, Ocean Wise, Vancouver, BC Salmon Tartare with Pea, Leek and Cured Yolk.
Oliver and Osoyoos wineries with food stations by Chef Simon Bouchard, The Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Cherry Hill Espresso Rubbed Beef Tataki, ‘Mole’ Aioli, Brandied Cherries; Chef Rod Butters and Chef Bernard Casavant, Terrafina at Hester Creek by RauDZ, Everything Green Stuffed Agnollotti, plant based Bolognese, Pulse Kitchen almond chevre, herb crumb; Chef Jeffrey Van Geest, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Grilled Octopus, N’duja, wild local watercress, Olive Oil Potato Puree; and Chef Wesley Young, PiDGin, Vancouver, Kushiyaki, Pork Jowl Skewers over Binchotan Charcoal.
Naramata Bench and Penticton with food stations by Chef Matthias Fong, River Café, Calgary, Buffalo Mozzarella & Crab, Edgar Farm Peas, Grand Fir, Caramelized Sake Kasu; and Chef Roy Oh with Stephanie O’Brien and Tyler Kimmel, Anju, Calgary, Oxtail Tortellini, Soy, Grana Padano and White Truffle Oil.
Kelowna and West Kelowna with food stations by Chef Roger Sleiman, Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Winery, BC Side Strip Prawn, Okanagan Rhubarb; and Chef Neil Taylor, Home Block at CedarCreek Estate Winery, Chicken Liver Gougére, Apricot.
The quality of wines and food was outstanding. Flavours and freshness popped as if to distract attendees from gazing into the vistas. The chefs seem to enjoy themselves almost as much as the crowds and they certainly brought their A games, dish after dish tantalizing your taste buds.
Throughout the day, we chatted with many guests from out of region arriving from the coast, Kamloops, Alberta, Saskatchewan and even south of the border. Sometimes we get spoiled in the Okanagan by the bounty and beauty around us. At this BCWI event, the pace is leisurely and we had time to feel grateful.
Featured photo: Lovely seating areas to relax throughout your tasting extravaganza.