It was wonderful to wake up in our house overlooking the vineyards and lake. The heat from yesterday was gone and it was decidedly chilly - so much so that I finally made use of that fleece jacket I dragged all the way from home. I know that as soon as the sun moves over the mountain we'll roast again and that fleece will go away!
This is my view as I sip my morning coffee.
Once sleeping beauty (AKA Paul) woke up we had a breakfast.
Fruit, coffee, juice, and pastries we had bought from the Okanagan Grocery in Kelowna (thanks Val!) before we left the city on Saturday.
We had no specific plans for the day - heck, we have no specific plans for the next week! Paul wanted to do some laundry . . . thanks heavens I was around or he might never have figured out that the reason there was no water coming in the machine was that someone had turned the taps off. LOL He hung the clean clothes out on the line to take advantage of the sun and breeze which is so essential in the development of the grapes all around us.
After the first load was hung out to dry we decided to head out to climb Munson Mountain. Munson Mountain is an extinct volcano located on the north-east end of Penticton, BC. It is well know for its giant PENTICTON sign, clearly visible from across Okanagan lake, and for the great panoramic views it offers of the South Okanagan valley. The access road to Munson Mountain is located off Middle Bench Road North, just north of Poplar Grove Winery. Look for a sign indicating the turn-off. At the end of the road there is a parking area. The main trail leading from the parking area is paved and leads up to a sheltered viewing area. It offers a great view of Okanagan Lake, Penticton and Skaha Lake beyond.
To the right of the gazebo there is a gravel trail that continues up Munson Mountain. At one point the trail forks with one trail climbing to the top of the mountain and the other following a lower path below the large PENTICTON sign.
On the way back from Munson Mountain we popped into Poplar Grove Cheese. I had had some of their Tiger Blue cheese with dinner the other night and thought I might want to buy some for the house. They were very busy so we skipped a tastinga nf just bought three types of cheese:
Tiger Blue, Okanagan Double Cream Camembert, and Harvest Moon Washed Rind.
I learned that the cheese making was an off shoot of the Poplar Grove Winery. Poplar Grove Winery began in 1993 and was one of the first five wineries on the Naramata Bench. In 2002, owners Gitta Pedersen and Ian Sutherland decided to try making cheese, and Poplar Grove Cheese was created. A cult following soon developed for both their artisan wines and hand-made cheeses. In 2007, a business decision was made to split the winery and cheesery. Ian Sutherland, Tony Holler and Barrie Sali became the new ownership team of Poplar Grove Winery, allowing them to expand and build a new state-of-the-art winery which opened in 2011. Gitta Pederson took over sole ownership of Poplar Grove Cheese, which includes the smaller wine-making facilities on-site as well as a six acre vineyard of proven vines.
They produce four surface- ripened cheeses using locally sourced ingredients. All of the cheese is made with pasteurized cow’s milk from Dutchmen Dairy in Sicamous (www.dutchmendairy.ca). With artisanal attention to detail, each cheese is handled several times through the process producing consistently high quality, French-style cheeses.
Our next stop was Bench 1777, the winery located just below the hill from the house. I wondered about the name and found out it is just their address. 1775 Naramata Road - that is one way to ensure people do not get lost.
Bench 1775 is a winery with quite the view of the Okanagan Valley! Bench 1775 Winery sits on 30 lakefront acres boasting panoramic views and 1000 feet of beach frontage. The winery's mission is to grow exceptional grapes and produce great wines that inspire the senses -- at an accessible price point. The process begins in the vineyards. Bench 1775 wines are made with fruit from its premier Naramata Bench vineyards as well as from other meticulously selected growers in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Each vineyard sites is chosen because of its unique microclimate, soil type and sun exposure. Carefully tended fruit is allowed to ripen fully with the goal of harvesting when the flavours have reached their peak and the tannins are at their softest. The fruit is hand picked and hand sorted before crushing to eliminate any fruit that fails to meet Bench 1775's high standards.
We tasted 7 wines and all were delicious. We behaved ourselves and only bought three bottles!
Paul wanted to check on the laundry so we headed up the mountain to the house. After he had completed his laundry duties we started to think about lunch.
In the end we headed into a craft brewery in Penticton that is also known for its pizza oven. Penticton British Columbia is home to at least 4 breweries, one of which is the revered Bad Tattoo Brewing Company. Bad Tattoo’s striking, custom-built facility is located within walking distance of the Peach at Okanagan Lake, a refreshment stand that looks like a giant peach. The beer lineup has a wide range of options, including several different IPAs and some Mexican-inspired styles.
In addition to our frosty beer . . . perfect for a hot day . . . we ordered Cesar salad with roasted garlic dressing and two small pizzas - a Chicago pizza with house made sausage and a Comfort Zone - ham, apples, and cheddar cheese. Everything was delicious.
Paul had some more laundry duties to do at the house and I felt like a nap so off we went.
After I woke up we lazed about for a bit. We thought we might go to the winery just up from the house but then Paul nodded off and the winery closed at 5.
Oh well, we are on vacation!
We walked up the road a bit (until I felt like I was going to have a heart attack from the gradient). While out view is stunning, the views further up the mountain are even more incredible.
After our walk we decided it was dinner time. We kept it simple - some cured meats, cheese, crackers, and fruit.
And wine. :-)
A perfect wine country dinner.
Later we sat outside and watched the sun dip below the mountains across the lake.
A wonderful day in wine country - unplanned, relaxed, and a great mix of food, drink, and a wee bit of exercise.