LET’S WINE TOUR AGAIN: REIMAGINED AND ENRICHED
by Roslyne Buchanan
Driving through wine country felt more beautiful and purposeful as I headed to wineries that had reopened their tasting rooms with enhanced protocols for the safety of guests and staff amid Covid-19 concerns.
The isolating-at-home phase deepened our appreciation for the Okanagan’s bounty of exceptional wineries. Sure, we could order favourite wines online, yet we missed the privilege of being able to visit in person.
The premium group that make up Proprietor Anthony von Mandl’s family estate wineries clearly have reimagined summer tastings, tours and culinary experiences. While the experiences are as unique as the properties, every tasting is customized to highlight what makes each winery shine. Advance reservations ensure options to tour cellars and vineyards, learn about terroir, enjoy meticulous food pairings, and of course, sip diverse selections of wine. In some instances, wineries will do their best to make space for guests without reservations. However, it’s best to call ahead because not all properties can accommodate walk-ins amid physical distancing requirements.
I dipped my toes back into wine touring at Liquidity Winery located in Okanagan Falls. Here, you’ll find modern architecture, eclectic artwork, ornamental gardens and eye-popping views. With a backdrop of vineyards, rugged cliffs such as McIntyre Bluff and shimmering Vaseux Lake, there are three different tasting experiences, including a “Wine & Wander,” walking tour of the Estate vineyard with a focus on sustainability.
My choice was the Taste of the Classics experience “designed for both the connoisseur and the curious”. This guided, vertical tasting is a chance to discover the library of award-winning wines. After checking in and tasting Liquidity N/V Bubbly inside, I was led out to the patio to find my tasting flight. Lauren Forzani led me thoughtfully through six signature library Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines as she discussed the terroir and approach by winemaker Alison Moyes.
From the comfort of my own tasting station, it was a relaxing and informative way to experience more fully what I was tasting. Discover how you can sign up for this and other options at liquiditywines.com.
Road 13 Vineyard
With my husband in tow, the next day I headed to the castle-like setting of Road 13 Vineyards in Oliver. ‘All about the dirt’ at Road 13, you pass by antique tractors as you get set ‘to dig right in’ for a menu of seated wine tastings and vineyard experiences.
We checked in at the front desk and glass-in-hand were led on a vineyard tour highlighting the history of the canal, irrigation, former train and fruit trail. We were treated to a barrel room visit and barrel sampling by Brenda before she delivered us to Olivia in the tasting room. Along with the seated and scenic tasting of five notable wines, we enjoyed the optional charcuterie board.
Seating is limited so choose an adventure and save yourself a seat. Discover more at road13vineyards.com.
Checkmate Artisanal Winery
From Road 13 we headed a few kilometres away to CheckMate Artisanal Winery, which specializes in producing the highest quality, limited quantities of Chardonnay and Merlot. CheckMate was awarded for its 2015 and 2016 Little Pawn Chardonnays the first ever back-to-back 100-point scores for a Canadian table wine.
We learned about CheckMate’s many awards as we sipped our way through the Advantage Tasting, a 45-minute Sommelier-guided tasting of a curated set of six CheckMate wines with Angus. We were fortunate to have the bonus of meeting Phil McGahan, winemaker/general manager for a behind-the-scenes peek at the winemaking facilities and barrel room.
Construction is currently underway so guests see first-hand the evolution as the winery is completely rearchitected and rebuilt into a contemporary facility. Once complete, CheckMate will be a work of art on its own that will literally glow up on the hillside. To reserve your tasting and discover more, see exploretock.com/checkmatewinery.
Tour additional von Mandl properties at CedarCreek Estate Winery in Kelowna and its first, Mission Hill Family Estate in West Kelowna.