TIME Winery, Penticton’s Urban Setting, Celebrates First Anniversary with Launch of Sparkling
By Roslyne Buchanan.
The first anniversary of TIME Winery & Kitchen in the urban setting of Penticton’s downtown core and its launch of TIME Winery 2018 Brut was roughly 30 to 40 years in the making.
It is a story of British Columbia wine history firsts. The 2018 Brut is Director of Winemaking Graham Pierce’s first ever sparkling wine. On the other hand, President and CEO Harry McWatters was the first in Canada to make premium bottle fermented sparkling wine. According to prolific wine writer John Schreiner, the “first vintage of Steller’s Jay Cuvée was 1987” at Sumac Ridge Estate Winery. Sumac Ridge was founded in 1980 by McWatters along with Casabello Wines Vineyard Manager Lloyd Schmidt. Research on creating the wine in the classic method had been conducted in collaboration with the Summerland Research Station and that first vintage was released to the public by Sumac Ridge in 1989.
Coincidentally, Casabello Wines was Penticton’s first urban winery. McWatters, according to Schreiner, quit his role as United Van Lines manager in Vancouver in 1968 to work in sales for Casabello. He moved to the Okanagan with his family in 1977 and it was just three years later Sumac Ridge opened. Sumac Ridge sold to Vincor Canada in 2000 and McWatters remained on its management team until 2008. He then set up The Vintage Consulting Group sharing his expertise with others.
Casabello Wines has long since closed. It was located roughly where the Real Canadian Superstore now sits. Given his history with Casabello Wines, I find it particularly fitting that McWatters and his team would open Penticton’s first ‘modern day’ urban winery. TIME Winery & Kitchen is part of ENCORE Vineyards Ltd., “a progressive Okanagan-based company, home to a number of wine brands, providing a host of wines and hospitality service” including the McWatters Collection and Evolve Cellars found in Summerland.
Another poetic historic element to the timely celebration is that TIME Winery is in the refurbished PenMar Theatre. Earlier attempts to rescue the theatre once the new Landmark Cinemas was built had faltered given the high costs of restoration so it’s lovely to see it revitalized in this way. During his presentation at the First Anniversary Celebration and Launch, McWatters spoke nostalgically of going to movies there.
One revamped theatre area remains where special screenings and other events can take place, and today the structure houses the impressive winemaking facility, stunning tasting room, full commercial kitchen, restaurant and lounge with a beautiful patio to enjoy the wines and fine cuisine.
The design is a balance between modern and classic with the gorgeous wood laminate beams and ceiling giving a warmth to the ambiance and softening TIME Winery’s corporate black and red colours and concrete grays that punctuate the decor. In the winemaking facility, too, there’s a nice flow between those wood tones, the oak barrels and stainless-steel tanks.
In addition to McWatters and Pierce, TIME Winery leaders on hand to entertain guests included McWatters offspring Director of Sales and Marketing Christa-Lee McWatters, Production Manager Darrien McWatters, Hospitality Manager Kelley Schaefer, Executive Chef AK Campbell, and Sous Chef Justin Calvez.
At the free open house, live music by Maiya Robbie added to the festivities as guests were greeted with a flute of the TIME Winery Brut which could be replenished at stations throughout. Appetizers were presented that paired divinely with the new wine release.
The 2018 Brut was made in the classic méthode cuvée clos creating fine bubbles that open up to “a complex, layered bouquet of fresh citrus and notes of toast”. There was a sumptuous creaminess on the plate with a hint of peach and it closed with a refreshing crisp finish.
City of Penticton officials including Mayor John Vassilaki and a number of council members were on hand to congratulate TIME Winery and celebrate its accomplishments.
TIME Winery continues its celebration of summer by hosting live music by local legends, 7 to 9 pm, on the third Thursday of each month. Admission is complimentary. Hear the drumming and vocals of Harvey Kostnechuk, July 18, and jazz, funk & blues of The Loni Moger Duo featuring Stephen Beinz on bass, August 15.
TIME Winery is open daily with the Tasting Room, 11 am to 9 pm, and the Kitchen from 12 noon to 9 pm for lunch and dinner. Wine Flights are a delightful feature available in a number of options that can accompany your meal or be completed at the tasting bar. You can add a food pairing supplement to the Wine Flights or opt for a Barrel Tasting and Tour.
The food menu changes regularly to reflect the Okanagan’s seasons and generally includes some vegan and dairy-free options. Happy TIME (aka happy hour) is presented from 3 to 5:30 pm and 8 pm until close daily. Cocktails reflect a homage to local products as well with Evolve Cellars Pink Effervescence used in a special mimosa and Doctors Orders Gin, Okanagan Spirits BRBN, and Legends Distilling Shadow in the Lake Vodka used in others.
While the Brut is TIME Winery’s first sparkling and will no doubt be snapped up quickly, McWatters assured guests a number of sparkling wines will follow as an entourage so there’ll be plenty to toast New Year’s.
Featured photo: TIME President/CEO Harry McWatters pours 2018 Brut for Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki and Director of Sales and Marketing Christa-Lee McWatters. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.