Wonders of Winter Wine Touring
By Roslyne Buchanan.
Coated in frosting rather than greenery through winter’s translucent light, the vineyards in the Okanagan remain stunning. The seasonal hues bring a serenity to the Kelowna region and a new wonder to wine touring.
Fly into Kelowna in the morning and by lunch you can be settled at a table experiencing fine wine country cuisine at The Chase Wines + Garden Bistro – Lake Country’s newest winery and culinary destination. You’ll find it hard to take your eyes off the winterscape of orchards, vineyards, rolling mountains and Okanagan Lake. However, the plating of the food by Chef Alex Lavroff and the kitchen will compete for your attention. The symphony of taste temptations paired with talented Winemaker Adrian Baker’s complex, bright and exciting wines will ensure you’ll want to return. Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Rosé, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are showcased in the estate-grown portfolio. The Garden Bistro menu celebrates the abundance of the Okanagan featuring its own culinary garden.
From there it was off to 50th Parallel Estate Winery. This architectural masterpiece on 61 acres near the Okanagan Lake shores is a 15-minute drive from the Kelowna International Airport and an eight-minute drive to Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa and Predator Ridge Golf Resort. Owners Curtis Krouzel and Sheri-Lee Turner Krouzel have put heart and soul into creating this destination from scratch, hand-planting the first 10 acres of vines, strategically planning and staging the winemaking facility, tasting room, restaurant and event facilities. With 50th Parallel since 2013, Winemaker Matthew Fortuna shares the passion for Pinot Noir that will account for nearly 40 per cent of the estate plantings. Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer balance the vineyard blocks. Executive Chef Kai Koroll oversees the seasonal Block One restaurant and all food operations drawing on the site’s own one-acre garden as a pillar for the culinary program.
Next, we checked into the beautifully renovated Delta Hotel by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort, a lakeside setting that immediately transports you into vacation mode. A quick dip in the indoor/outdoor pool and hot tubs, a brief tour of OAK + CRU Social Kitchen & Wine Bar, resident shops and galleries and the BC wine showcase cellar, and it was time for a stroll and a skate. Adjacent is Stuart Park, home to downtown Kelowna’s outdoor skating rink.
Thanks to rink side rentals we had a few cheerful spins around the ice in the gentle hue of twinkling lights and a campfire. We bid Kelowna’s sparkling bear sculpture adieu before getting back to our wine touring. This time, to Ricco Bambino, downtown Kelowna’s newest wine experience for a flight of wine in its chic and decidedly pink wine lounge. Branding itself as “a different type of winery, Ricco Bambino Vino, Okanagan BC VQA – made with love – aged in concrete – organic – sustainable – unfined- unfiltered.”
Invigorated by our leisurely wine tasting and appetites stimulated by skating and strolling, we walked a few blocks to our 7 pm dinner reservation at RauDZ Regional Table. Owned and operated by the perennially award-winning team of Chef Rod Butters and Audrey Surrao, RauDZ is part of the RauDZ Creative Concepts Ltd. family. You’ll want to check out siblings micro bar • bites and Sunny’s Modern Diner in Kelowna and Terrafina by RauDZ at Hester Creek Estate Winery in Oliver. Butters, Surrao, Executive Director of Operations Bernard Casavant and the entire RauDZ team are leaders in the use of organic, sustainable and naturally raised ingredients and concentrate on pure, simple flavours with fun presentation. They truly appreciate and identify with their large number of independent growers, vintners and crafts people, many who have been their suppliers for years.
Sitting in a cozy booth in the comfortable room rich in woodgrains and earthy tones, we can peer into the open kitchen to watch talented Chef de Cuisine Chris Braun and his team building layers of flavours. Not to be outdone, RauDZ Liquid Chefs at the bar on the opposite wall create unique and colourful cocktails using fresh and seasonal local ingredients. The wine list, too, is a brilliant compilation and staff are expert at recommending BC favourites sure to complement your food.
We savoured every morsel of RauDZ cuisine enjoying some classics like its Crab Cappuccino soup as well as chef’s creations developed that day.
We welcomed the short trek back to the hotel and slept well with visions of wineries, wine country cuisine and winter activities to fill our dreams.
Featured photo: Marinated Beet Salad with coconut yogurt, apple and winter greens paired with The Chase 2017 Pinot Gris. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.