The Okanagan is famous for it's wine industry - many travel guides call it the Napa of the north. Having been to Napa and hating it for it's commercialism and over the top gaudiness I'd say there is no comparison. I hate how a growing wine region feels the need to compare itself to a more established place just to seem legit - in my opinion the Okanagan is unique and wonderful. It doesn't need to be compared to any other wine region.
Saturday was my one free day while I am here. There was a chance of rain in the weather forecast. Hmmmm
You know where this is going, right?
Oh well. As always, we were not going to let some rain interrupt our plans.
After breakfast we headed south to the far end of the lake to explore an area called the Naramata Bench. The vineyards of Penticton and Naramata Bench boast ideal conditions for ripening Merlot and Bordeaux varieties and full-flavoured Pinot Gris and Viognier. With an established (and simple) wine touring route, breathtaking views and several wineries with delicious dining spectacular settings, it’s easy to see why the Naramata Bench is one of the hottest wine regions in the province.
We explored a small, family run winery first - Laughing Stock. We explained that it was our first winery visit in BC so the hostess provided us with plenty of information about the industry and the growing conditions.
Our next winery was the larger Poplar Grove. They had a beautiful tasting room and some amazing wines.
We explored Penticton for the next few hours before heading back up the lake to Summerland. Penticton has a lovely beach at the far end of the lake and we were happy to walk along the beach (the rain having stopped by then). One of the interesting features of the area was a museum dedicated to the various lake boats which used to bring goods, and people back and forth between Penticton and Kelowna prior to the railroads and highways being built.
We headed back the way we came to the town of Summerland. This is some of the major fruit production areas in Canada and the cherry, peach, and apple trees were in full blossom. This is also a growing wine region and we had three wineries selected for our visit: Dirty Laundry, Silkscarf, and the Okanagan Crush Pad.
Dirty Laundry is fun - with a story that starts in the late 1800s when a railway worker decided to open a laundry/bordello and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Dirty Laundry Vineyard, and its jaw-dropping gorgeous scenery that produces outstanding wines, has become a world-class destination. It was the most commercial of the wineries we visited but NOTHING like one would see in Napa (see earlier rant). It was also the place where we least enjoyed the wines - they were good but the wines at our other destinations were GREAT!
Next up was Silkscarf winery. Unlike Dirty Laundry it was quiet and calm. This is one of those wineries that you could drive by and miss if you weren’t paying attention. And if you did see it, you might not even stop because compared with some of the other wineries in the valley, it flies very low under the radar.
And if you did miss it, that would be a total shame because the wine is fantastic!
Our final stop was at the Okanagan Crush Pad. The Okanagan Crush Pad Winery was the first in British Columbia to install concrete eggs in its winery as fermentation and storage vessels. A number of wineries use the facility in order to make world class wines.
Leaving the crush pad, we spotted an interesting stop sign . . .
. . . and headed back to Kelowna for a nap.