Light Up the Vines and Art Walk
brighten darker days
By Roslyne Buchanan
As daylight hours condense, the holiday lighting and festive activities are a saving grace. While it’s impossible to hit all the open houses and events throughout the valley, check out your regional listings to find some gems.
Last Thursday, I did the Penticton Art Walk and Downtown Penticton tree lighting. On Saturday, I toured Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive for a preview of “Light Up the Vines”.
Penticton Art Walk
Art Walk presented eight gallery openings in one night in downtown Penticton. Because these galleries are within minutes from each other, we could park and stroll. Artists were on hand to mix and mingle, share their stories and what inspires them. Admission was free, and all ages welcomed. Most galleries had snacks and beverages, and some included local wineries.
I started at Front Street Gallery for the “Verse and Vision Project” where gallery artists each created a painting inspired by the poem, The Bridge. Hot apple cider, cookies and squares sweetened the comparison of the artists’ approaches.
The Lloyd Gallery, always chock-a-block with great displays, featured new art by gallery artists. Appetizers and a mug of hot cider enhanced that viewing.
I headed down Westminster Avenue to Picture This Custom Framing & Gallery, a first visit for me and not the last. Artists, Naramata Bench’s Lang Vineyards wine and snacks added to the ambiance.
At Matheson & Grove Fine Art Gallery on Martin Street I negotiated a labyrinth of viewing areas amid live music, live painting and sculpting. Along with the nibbles, Serendipity Winery, Naramata Bench, presented samples of its latest releases.
On Nanaimo Square, the Tree Light Up Festival and Christmas Open House Downtown were staged. Christmas Carolers, gingerbread cookie decorating, bouncy castles, and treats ensured family fun. Santa lit up the tree and businesses stayed open late for shopping.
The Long Gallery + Studios, displayed other artists and opened “Lavish Essence” – a show by dynamic duo of Christina Baird and Bibiana exploring “the sumptuous intrinsic nature of flowers”. It was delightful with artists in attendance, appetizers and wines from the Naramata Bench. Lovely Bench 1775 Winery releases were tasted.
I couldn’t resist the newly opened Rasha Tattoo & Gallery. Rasha practiced the art of tattoo for almost 20 years and expanded his work to include painting, wood burning and glass etching.
Tumbleweed Gallery celebrated the “Gathering” opening, featuring new art from seven of its artists collective. Liz Marshall, Jolene Mackie, Jessie Dunlop, Carol Munro, Vikki Drummond, Lyse Deselliers and Kirsten Robertson attended to share their artistic inspirations.
I missed Mondo Creation and the Penticton Art Gallery, however, the shows continue so I’ll enjoy them later.
Summerland Bottleneck Drive Light Up the Vines Preview
The 8th Annual Light Up the Vines of Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive previewed Saturday. Tour the 25 members of Bottleneck Drive including wineries, cideries, a brewery and a distillery, 3 to 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday, December 1 and 2. You’ll enjoy beverage tastings (fees may apply) and seasonal food, music, holiday specials, merchandise and art work.
Along the scenic route twisting through orchards and vineyards with varied views from farmland to hills and Okanagan Lake, are twinkling lights and holiday decorations. If you plan to drink all the tastings of craft beer, cider, spirits and wine, have a designated driver – whether a non-drinking member of your team or a professional tour operator.
Travelling with three wine-industry writers, keen to see as many members as possible, we sampled and spit. We visited five wineries, a distillery, a cidery, and a brewery, each providing a unique and highly personal experience.
Bottleneck Drive Sneak-a-Peek Itinerary
Evolve Cellars, overlooking Okanagan Lake on the north side of Summerland was our first stop. An open fire crackled welcome and all the makings for Smores were thoughtfully laid out beside roasting sticks. Inside there were various tasting stations and a side room with a cheese fondue to accompany the wine or mulled wine. Upstairs there was an art exhibit by local artist Will Enns and display of affiliated McWatters Wine and Time Winery.
Just across Highway 97 toward Summerland, we found the brand-new Alchemist Distiller. Co-proprietor Simon Buttet had Libellule Gin available to taste and we discussed its predominant citrus tones and other botanicals. The spirits are all apple based and future releases include Nectar Apple Liqueur and Green Frog Absynthe.
Family-owned and operated SummerGate Winery offers organic wines and heartfelt greetings as its tasting room is bedecked with lights and a stunning Christmas tree. Good German bratwurst with fixings including sauerkraut and sautéed onions are available.
Staying with the organically grown and family owner/operator theme, our next stop is Saxon Estate Winery, where live music is a #LightUptheVines feature. To accommodate the increased crowds, additional tasting bars are set up on the brilliantly decorated patio.
From Saxon you can just follow the pathway to find Dominion Cider Co. This is “small-batch cider from branch to bottle” all done by hand in a little farm Quonset.
Tyler Harlton, proprietor, had a distinguished and varied career in hockey and law before his love of farming drew him to winemaking and establishing TH Wines. Here we were fortunate to get a behind-the-scenes tour and experience some barrel samples as well as the wines available at the tasting bar.
Without sounding too cliché, most winemakers appreciate a good beer and just across the street from TH Wines, you’ll find Detonate Brewing and its lovely craft beer. We shared a couple of flights and found some unexpected new ideas such as a hot sour.
A fitting finale was 8th Generation Vineyard where Stephanie Schales, co-owner led us through the enchanted spaces outdoors and indoors. We learned of the family’s 235 years of winemaking history and why they chose the Okanagan Valley in moving from Germany. We couldn’t resist the outdoor barbecue of bratwurst by Bogner’s of Penticton.
A Chance to Win!
Pick up the Bottleneck Drive Light Up the Vines passport for a chance to win a prize package valued at more than $500. It has a map with a list of our tasting rooms and local businesses to tour. Collect stamps from at least five members, fill out the contact information and drop it off at one of the tasting rooms to enter the draw.
Of course, getting to know the members and tasting their products is a win, too. I hope to visit a few that are new to me and I missed in the preview. To learn more about Bottleneck Drive, its events, and to find the members’ links to plan your tour, visit www.bottleneckdrive.com
Featured photo: The Long gallery + studios “Lavish Essence” opening. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.