Okanagan Wineries Spring Forward to Release New Wines and Dust Off their Patios to Celebrate Peak Season

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Kootenay Cabin Resort - Murphy's Landing Resort

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.

Roche Wines

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.

Penelope and Dylan Roche, proprietors Roche Wines. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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.”

Roche Wines Bordeaux-style blends in traditional hierarchy of Grand Vin and Second Vin: CHATEAU 2016 and nuances 2016. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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.

Spring Open House at CheckMate Artisanal Winery. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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.

At the Sensory Symposium wine education series, blind tasting was serious and fun business. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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.

Laura Milnes, SILK + COUPE, Sensory Symposium organizer, front row right takes time out for photos with winemakers Costa Gavaris, Rigour and Whimsy; Severine Pinte, Le Vieux Pin/La Stella; second row from right, Rob Summers, Hester Creek; Alison Moyes, Liquidity Wines; Kelsey Rufiange, Echo Bay; Charlie Baessler, Corcelettes; Graham O’Rourke, Tightrope; Mireille Sauve, Les Dames; and Michal Mosny, Winemaker’s Cut. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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”.

A selection of wine and cider from Rustic Roots of the Similkameen. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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.


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Roslyne Buchanan (aka Roz) Roslyne Buchanan is a regular freelance contributor to food, travel, wine, home and lifestyle magazines. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine Trails, WestJet Magazine, OpenRoad Driver, Savour, Niche, Destinations Travel Magazine, My Van City, and blog.hellobc.com. Based above BC’s Naramata Bench in Penticton, she enjoys spectacular views of forests, vineyards, lakes, and hills beyond and regular visits from wildlife. Enchanted by the food and beverage industry and all things culinary as well as recreational pursuits such as travel, golfing, skiing, hiking, tennis and snorkeling. For her it’s the perfect balance to pursue her passion for writing with integrity and joy to share firsthand experiences. Most of her adventures are shared with her husband, Mark and when they’re not out exploring, they are managed by two felines Baja and Floyd. Find her personal blog at www.rozsmallfry.com, follow her on twitter @RozDB and Instagram @roslynebuchanan

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