Okanagan Wineries Spring Forward to Release New Wines and Dust Off their Patios to Celebrate Peak Season
By Roslyne Buchanan.
Vivid spring sunshine and blue skies in the Okanagan Valley summoned bud break on the vines and blossoms on the fruit trees and just like that the 25th Annual Spring Okanagan Wine Festival is almost over. No worries though, you may still be able to catch a few events. If not, it’s only 4 ½ months until Fall Okanagan Wine Festival in October. Plus, there’s so much to see, taste and do at all the wineries until then.
The schedule has been busy with winery open houses, educational sessions, regional tastings and special events. Recently, I wrote about the Okanagan Falls Wineries Spring Release Tasting at the Kelowna Yacht Club and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to experience many more wine country activities.
Rooted in old world tradition and blossoming in the new world of the Okanagan wine industry, Roche Wines draws upon six generations of grape growing and winemaking in Bordeaux. Proprietors Penelope and Dylan Roche presented two blended Okanagan wines in the traditional hierarchy of Grand Vin and Second Vin: CHATEAU 2016 and nuances 2016.
Guests also had the opportunity to taste CHATEAU and nuances 2017 and 2018 “en primeur” – translated as “first youth” which “refers to the practice of sampling and evaluating young Bordeaux wines at the winery in the spring following the harvest. Importers and distributors then buy futures – in order to secure access to wines that will be bottled and released the following season.”
To my knowledge this is the first time in the Okanagan, futures purchase has been offered by a winery. Roche Wines Black Box wine club members are offered first dibs at the futures purchase of the 2017 vintage at special pre-release prices and then the public can participate.
For details on these Bordeaux-style blends, futures purchases, and the full portfolio of Roche Wines, see www.rterroir.ca. Located on Upper Bench Road, Penticton, Roche Wines is a proud member of the Naramata Bench Wineries Association.
CheckMate Artisanal Winery Open House
Reservations were required for this complimentary event held on April 27 as a 5th Anniversary of Winemaking celebration and Spring Open House at CheckMate Artisanal Winery in Oliver. Some library selections, latest releases and plans for the future were presented along with tasty snacks catered by Oliver Eats Ltd.
Inaugural Sensory Symposium
The inaugural Sensory Symposium sponsored by Okanagan College launched in Penticton, April 28, as part of the Wine Education Series. When Laura Milnes of SILK + COUPE contacted me about the event and provided a media pass, I had no idea the rich content that could be gleaned in a one-day seminar.
All sessions were introduced and moderated by Milnes. The first session was a focus on Women in Wine and included outstanding representation in Alison Moyes, Liquidity Wines; Kelsey Rufiange, Echo Bay; Severine Pinte, Le Vieux Pin/La Stella; and Mireille Sauve, Les Dames.
The second session was on Natural Wine and was again well represented by Costa Gavaris, Rigour and Whimsy; Michal Mosny, Winemaker’s Cut; Severine Pinte, Le Vieux Pin/La Stella; Charlie Baessler, Corcelettes; and Kelsey Rufiange, Echo Bay.
Light refreshments between sessions and a lovely lunch with diverse choices was catered by Avery Trent and her team.
After lunch, the main event was a focus on Sustainability and Sensory Diversity in BC with the expert panel consisting of Graham O’Rourke, Tightrope; Michal Mosny, Winemaker’s Cut; Severine Pinte, Le Vieux Pin/La Stella; and Rob Summers, Hester Creek.
For each of the sessions, we had the opportunity to blind taste wines created by the panelists and test our ability to identify them. Some of the wineries were completely new to me so I truly appreciated being introduced to the wines and philosophy of all the winemakers.
Through special arrangement with CASK & BARREL Liquor Store, West Kelowna, participants could conveniently purchase some of the beautiful wine that was tasted. Other merchandise was also available.
Similkameen Independent Winegrowers Spring Trade and Industry Tasting: Sip the Similkameen!
Held at Waterfront Café in Kelowna, April 30, the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers invited us to sip our “way through the Similkameen and experience award-winning wines and ciders that beautifully express our rare terroir”.
While attendees nibbled on amazing bites from Chef Mark Filatow and his Waterfront team, you could mingle with representatives from 13 wineries/cideries and taste the selections they brought along. It was a delightful day to drift between the deck with a view of Okanagan Lake and the tastefully decorated second floor of the café.
It really was a tantalizing teaser to head southwest to the Similkameen and truly gain an appreciation of the terroir and terrific people. To learn more about this region, see www.similkameenwine.com.
Featured photo: Trade and media #sipSimilkameen at Waterfront Café with Vanessa Vineyards. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.