Sip Trips #36: Labour Day Lunacy

The last long weekend of summer was a busy one, beginning Thursday night, as Mrs. Sip and I took an extra day off work. To celebrate Pa Sip’s birthday, we congregated at The Keg in Yaletown, enjoying a bottle of Danzante Pinot Grigio, followed by the Whistler Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA, for yours truly. The beer was quite good and I appreciated the bomber-sized serving, as it lasted throughout my meal. For years, I’ve advocated for the restaurant’s Prime Rib Burger, but they have now changed that item on their menu. While I still enjoyed the burger, it is now comprised of ground chuck, brisket, and sirloin meats. The price has also jumped from $12 to $15, but in fairness, bacon and cheese are automatically included now, when they used to be chargeable additions.

The next morning, Mrs. Sip and I made a run to Storm Brewing to fill a couple growlers for our weekend away. We tried their Brainstorms options, before settling on fills of their Vanilla Whiskey Stout, Sex on the Beach IPA, and Pineapple Pilsner. Also on their menu was a Dill Pickle IPA, Basil IPA, Cherry Whiskey Sour Pilsner, and Lime Lavender Pilsner. The Pineapple Pilsner was a perfect breakfast beer, while the Sex on the Beach IPA was best served in the afternoon, with the sun setting, and the Vanilla Whiskey Stout provided a wonderful nightcap to the evening.

liquor store run

Before arriving at our accommodation, a liquor store stop was needed. While I appreciate the government stores for their wide selection and decent prices, the occasional stop at a private store can unearth some hidden gems. I picked up bottles of Canuck Empire Chamomile Wheat, Bridge Bourbon Blood Orange Wheat, Lost Coast Raspberry Brown, Firehall Stoked Ember (although I thought it was Smoked Ember – clearly I need my glasses), and Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale, while Mrs. Sip grabbed a bottle of Wayne Gretzky Pinot Grigio.

We were originally supposed to be camping in the Okanagan over the weekend, but one of our friends injured themselves and had to cancel. Luckily, we had other friends who were going to Penticton and had an extra room available at the house they were renting, so it was a small change to the plan. This property was actually located on a vineyard and has ties to the Poplar Grove Winery, where we went for dinner at their Vanilla Pod Restaurant on our first night. There, we enjoyed four bottles of wine, including Poplar’s Syrah and the Monster Cabs variety.

The next day began with a trip to the town’s Farmer’s Market, where I immediately hit the Tin Whistle Brewery post. After trying a few of their brews, I purchased a bomber of the Killer Bee Honey Porter. From there, we were off into wine country, where you can’t drive very far before you hit yet another winery. We started at the far end of the Naramata route, popping into Nichol Winery, where I enjoyed their Cab Franc and Syrah.

farmer's market bear

Next up was Therapy Winery, which has a number of great names for their products, including Fizzio Therapy, Pink Freud, Bi-Polar Ice Wine, and Freudian Sip. Sigmund Freud is a mascot for the vineyard and appears on their bottle labels. At this point, many wineries were very busy, with it being the long weekend and all. This meant that getting some space to be served was tough and pours were a little chintzy.

Looking to get away from some of the tour groups, we went to the neighbouring Van Westen and Joie wineries. Van Westen had a large selection of wines to sample and provided great service. Best of all, the tasting was free, with a suggested donation to the charity of their choice. At Joie, I liked the Oaked Chardonnay, which would have been fun to drink with one of the place’s wood fire pizzas, but they run out quickly each day. We did snag their last ice cream sandwiches (Earl Grey Tea ice cream, between two double chocolate cookies), which were a fantastic treat.

Day one wrapped up with stops at D’Angelo (known primarily for their reds) and Red Rooster, where my favourites included the Merlot and Reserve Syrah. By this point, palate fatigue was setting in and it was time to return to our place and switch to beer as we watched the sunset and snacked on appies – some healthier than others!

potato chips in cookie

Day two featured more wineries, this time on a walking trip of the ones located closest to our accommodation. We started at Township 7, a short jaunt from our place. Mrs. Sip and I normally aren’t big fans of their reds, but did like the Merlot we sampled. We also bought a bottle of their 7 Blanc, which is our favourite from the winery.

Up next was a long walk to Upper Bench Winery and Creamery, which combines all the best of wine and cheese (if that’s your thing) in the region. We sat down for a while and enjoyed a picnic, which included their Riesling (my fave), Chardonnay, and Merlot, accompanied by a very good charcuterie plate. Our one complaint is that we were charged a stiff markup on the wines we ordered, just because we were drinking them on location. Had we purchased the bottles and went somewhere else, it would have been much cheaper. I’m not a fan of places doing this, as it seems to punish people who are willing to be patrons at your business.

wine and cheese

On our return back to where we were staying, we popped into Misconduct for a tasting, before heading over to Monster, which is a sister winery to Poplar Grove and offers a different variety of wines and marketing, including bottles that glow in the dark. The Rose Bubbly was particularly nice here and I’m not even a fan of fizzy wines. We finished at Poplar, where we did an actual tasting this time around. The Pinot Gris was a definite hit for Mrs. Sip and me.

Before making the trek home on Monday, we took in some of the area’s breweries, including Cannery and Bad Tattoo. Our tasting at Cannery was comprised of the Skaha Summer Ale, Naramata Nut Brown Ale, Blackberry Porter, and Wildfire IPA, all of which were good. At Bad Tattoo, I ordered a sleeve of the recently released Tramp Stamp Pale Ale and thoroughly enjoyed the new variety. After all, a tramp stamp might as well be a bullseye!

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2 thoughts on “Sip Trips #36: Labour Day Lunacy

  1. Thank you for including us in your article, much appreciated. We are so glad you enjoyed your time in the Okanagan. We just wanted to clarify the mark up on our wine is only $5 between our Retail store price and Patio price. This covers the cost of service on the patio. We hope to see you again soon. Again, thank you for the shout out.

    • Hi Shana,
      Sorry for the late reply, but I’ve just returned from being out of the country since mid-September. While the service and our experience was good at Upper Bench, Mrs. Sip and I have been to numerous wineries where we’ve purchased bottles of wine to be immediately enjoyed at the winery and have not been charged a markup, even when being served a charcuterie plate or other food. Thanks for reading and I wish you and Upper Bench continued success.

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