Over the Canada Day long weekend, the Sip Syndicate returned to the Okanagan Valley wine region, this time setting up shop in Kelowna. We covered a lot of ground over our three-day stay, so let’s get right to the good stuff!
We chose to celebrate our nation’s birthday by touring the many wineries that were walking distance from our Airbnb accommodation, with our first stop being Beaumont Winery. Here, we were able to sample eight different products, with my favourites being their Pinot Blanc, Chilled Red, Pinot Noir, and Heritage. Our hostess was very friendly and the setting was fun with some live music even being served up.
Next up, was Volcanic Hills Winery, where we could taste four wines, among the winery’s extensive lineup. Again, the wines were good, with my preferred samples being their Chardonnay and Rose. The only downside was that our hostess wasn’t nearly as friendly as our first stop and seemed annoyed with our group, just because we were all selecting different wines to match our desired styles.
A quick 400-meter walk (although it seems to take forever when you just want more wine) brought us to visit number three at Mt. Boucherie Winery. At the Bouche (a nickname they have yet to verify and endorse), I liked a number of their releases, including the Semillon, Rose, Summit, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.
Moving on, our crew literally travelled through the vines to reach Little Straw Vineyards. After a tasting that yielded a bunch of very good wines (Rose, Cuvee Noir, Southern Cross, and Marechal Foch), we had a fantastic meal at their Barrel Top Grill bistro. While splitting a trio of tapas dishes, our host entertained us with an energy you’d expect at the start of his day and not the end.
We wrapped up day one of our vacation by popping into Grizzli Winery. This massive new facility just opened that day and staff were still figuring things out. The operation only had two reds and three dessert wines available, with whites to come later, but offered a complimentary tasting of three of those options. Mrs. Sip and I picked up their Cabernet Sauvignon to go along with our upcoming steak dinner.
The second day of our trip was largely spent watching a Euro 2016 match (Germany vs. Italy) at Friends Pub and hanging out at the beach. We did manage to visit the Tree Brewing Institute for dinner, where the gang enjoyed a few of their beers, including the West Coast Pale Ale, Thirsty Beaver Amber Ale and Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen. The setting, along downtown Kelowna’s waterfront, was wonderful and the place had board and card games that patrons can play while they eat and drink.
Sadly, every long weekend away has to come to an end, but we made sure to cram in a few more wineries before making the trek home. Our first stop was to The Hatch Winery, which was a funky, kid-friendly place. The label work on their wines is great, although some bottles are quite expensive. Mrs. Sip and I took home their Reserve Chardonnay after trying four tastings each.
Next up, was Quail’s Gate Winery, one of the bigger players in the area. They do offer three complimentary tastings, before charging $5 for four more samples. Unlike other places, though, they only waive their tasting fee after buying two bottles, as opposed to the typical one bottle. Of the wines offered, I liked their Pinot Gris, Reserve Chardonnay, and Rose.
We followed that up with Mission Hill Winery, undoubtedly the region’s biggest estate (hell, Michael Bolton has two upcoming shows at the colossal operation). The place was busy, but definitely a gorgeous, picturesque stop. Tastings here will set you back $8 per person and is only waived with purchasing two bottles, so Mrs. Sip went ahead with the sampling only.
Looking to have a nice meal before hitting the highway, we ended up at 19 Okanagan Grill + Bar at the Two Eagles Golf Course. Here, we each had a fantastic lunch (I ordered the trio of pulled pork sliders and a Caesar salad and Mrs. Sip asked for their grilled cheese and tomato soup combo), while throwing back a couple beverages and enjoying the warm, sunny day. The service here was awesome, with Mrs. Sip being given a full nine-ounce replacement of wine after the wind knocked a menu over, thus spilling her carafe… which she’d already drank three quarters of.
Our final stop of the weekend was Off the Grid Winery. This is a newer operation, but the location is cool and the pygmy goats and other wildlife they have on the site are a unique feature. Of their wines, I enjoyed the Pinot Gris, which we grabbed a bottle of to enjoy at a later date and reminisce about a wonderful journey through the Kelowna scene.