There’s no consensus but some clear winners when 8 people visit up to 15 wineries and 5 restaurants and are asked for their favourites.
We knew this trip would be different due to Co-Vid but how, was the looming question. We’ve booked our tastings in advance for years. The wineries appreciate it and often provide something special. This year reservations are a must and everyone is enjoying better service but perhaps not quite what a small group would have experienced in the past.
Back in the south this year we booked super early at The Spirit Ridge Resort, one of the top options, boasting full suites, an onsite winery, multiple dining options, 2 pools, a gym, 9 hole golf course, spa, cultural centre and so much more.
It’s a beautiful drive from Vancouver. We started out in rain but as we descended into the Similkameen valley we drove into sunshine and perfect weather for a picnic at Clos du Soleil Winery in Keremeos. We enjoyed a guided tasting at our picnic tables where wines were poured by a server in a shield. Maybe not the perfect distancing but we were outside and she backed away to speak. Then we opened our picnic baskets and shared the 1st meal of the trip along with a bottle of Celestial and Capella, in my opinion the best value Bordeaux style red and white in BC.
A short drive on to Cawston we had a reservation at Vanessa Vineyards where a barrels were set with 4 glasses and 12 tiny plastic shot glasses pre poured with the wines we could then dump in the glass as our host described them. Great wines but I didn’t like the plastic glasses. The tasting room has only been there a few years but the vines go back much further and in the hands of legendary Howard Soon they are turning out super star wines.
Across the street at Seven Stones there is a patio with tables and they’re also using their bar with very strict rules about where to stand and quick reminders not to move around. The happy host poured each wine but kept her distance and was wearing a shield. Always one of our favourite stops, the wines just get better and better. Booking a cellar tour is even better. Dinner in the cellar is on my radar.
With one last stop to check out Spotted Lake we headed into Osoyoos and Spirit Ridge. We had plenty of time to settle in before dinner at The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry.
We couldn’t resist the bannock with spicy creamed corn, white bean & sumac spread, beetroot relish, some garlic roasted tomato es and pickles it’s perfect with something for everyone.
Squash, corn and beans, toasted pumpkin seeds and a honey mint dressing is a salad I’d order every time. Nutritious and delicious.
Fresh halibut is always popular and there were several orders at our tables. Mine is sans chorizo. The chestnut pasta was too rich for some and I couldn’t quite finish but with peas and spinach and white onion velouté it was delicious.
I think the picture speaks for itself but I can attest to the potatoes being fantastic and those bones were clean when the left our table.
Vegetarians are well cared for with several choices. The squash was as good as it looks with crispy fried sage, salsa verde, greens and more of the delicious honey, mint dressing.
The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry is truly making the most of local ingredients and helping connect us to the culinary history of the Okanagan and has elevated the dining at Spirit Ridge.
Day 1 – 3 wineries and 1 restaurant, more to come.