Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Okanagan Valley - Wine Country

We don't usually go to wine tasting events. Been there, done that. And it is no fun for the designated driver, especially when it is only the two of us. as one misses out on the tasting.

Also, we don't want to elevate our taste in wine above the level of our budget. Which generally runs in the "three buck Chuck" range. My US readers will know what that is.

Never-the-less, here we are in the heart of British Columbia wine country, and when in Rome.... And on Mother's Day many of the wineries in the Kelowna area were holding special open houses so off we went.

We chose to visit a group of small wineries that billed themselves as the "Fab Five". And, although we only got to three of them, fabulous they were.

Our first stop was at Vibrant Vines. Beside a bright yellow building, at the end of the lane lined with blooming apple trees, was this little truck:
Wow! That's vibrant
Then we turned the corner to the entrance to the tasting room:
This is going to be a good experience - you know how I love colour, yellow in particular
As we entered we were greeted by this incredible painting:
Which is the winery's logo
And this charming woman who turned out to be the mother of Phil, the artist who designed the logo. I believe she and her husband own the winery.
I was so busy chatting that I forgot to ask if I could photograph her - this picture is "borrowed" from the winery's Flickr page
So this turned out to be a winery and an art gallery. Both the art and the wine lived up to the "fabulous" billing.

We were each given a pair of 3-D glasses as Phil uses a very unique combination of pen and ink drawing and computer work (I am at a loss to describe this) to create 3-D effect in his art. Amazing. He has a good description of what he does on his website.

I was very impressed with his art but even more impressed with his ability to use his artistic skills to create what I will call usable and wearable art. All of which is for sale on his website and some of which was for sale at the winery.
The boxes contain wine, and also on the table are "big kid" colouring books which allow you to create your own art from pen and ink drawings he created when doing the paintings.
Aren't these hoodies beautiful?  And very well made of soft fabric and hand warmers in the pockets.
My favourite are these jigsaw puzzles.  In the frame is a completed puzzle.
They are made with 1/4" maple plywood and the finest archival paper and inks. No two pieces in any puzzle are alike, and each puzzle features dozens of intricate, charming whimsy pieces. Each puzzle has it's own special cut-pattern with shapes that contribute to the theme of the puzzle.

All the above items and much more are for sale on his website.

But I digress, lets get back to the winery.

All the wines have shrink-wrapped labels of Phil's design:

And are excellent. In 2013 their white wine blend - called OOPS (it is a long story) won the "best wine in the world" - out of 10,000 entries - in the 2014 World Beverage Competition in Geneva, Switzerland. This wine was sold out, of course, but we tasted the new version - called WOOPS - which was excellent, and purchased two bottles to share with our gourmet dining group when we get home.

Because of the tremendous success of this mistake the winery just opened an expanded tasting room the weekend we visited and were in the process of expanding their picnic area out front. So we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the orchard behind the tasting room
A lovely and peaceful area 
After the vibrancy of the wine and the art it was lovely to sit in this area and enjoy the scent of the apple blossoms while having a late lunch.

Then it was on to the House of Rose Winery. Home to the "world's largest rose".
Here we tasted some lovely wines,and enjoyed a bit of cheese with a glass of wine in their picnic area. The tasting room was very busy and the winery owners were rushing about serving up tastes and glasses of wine, putting out cheese platters, etc. 
Tasting room and picnic area
Help yourself cheese and crackers were served

So no time to chat on this busy day. But a lovely atmosphere.

Time was running short by now so we chose one last winery to visit. 
The SpierHead Winery
Which was very picturesquely set high on a hill, among the vineyards, overlooking Okanagan Lake. All day long we saw a lot of cyclists riding up and down the steep hills going from winery to winery. This woman was enjoying a well earned rest in the picnic area at SpierHead.

I liked their shopping cart/wine transport system
A little Red Wagon re-purposed
The small tasting room was very busy but the gentleman overseeing everything made sure everyone got a chance to try the wines and so we were able to taste the offered selections and make a purchase from their selecttion of very excellent wines.
 Our "basement" is getting pretty full of wine :).

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  1. Sounds like a perfect day! Guess you better have lots of dinner parties:)

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