On our final day as we headed home we stopped at our 2 last wineries; La Stella in Oliver and Corcelette in Cawston.
La Stella’s wines and winery are Italian inspired, beautiful and sophisticated. We’ve visited many times and we never leave empty handed.
Corcelette was our final winery and another regular stop for us. Owned by young local people who have wine flowing in their blood, they represent the best of the wine industry. Buy the Malbec if you get the chance.
With our trip coming to and end I started asking each of my fellow travellers about their favourite wineries and favourite meals.
Of course there was no consensus but some clear winners. Miradoro restaurant at Tinhorn Creek got 6 out of 8 votes with Terrafina at Hester Creek getting the other 2. Special mention to the scallops and the bannock and spreads at The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry and the flatbreads at Black Hills.
Feedback on wineries was even more complicated. Second Chapter in Oliver was the most mentioned for both the quality of the wine and presentation by host Diane.
La Stella was another clear favourite. Our host Sankara, kept us focused on the wine in our glass and was judged the most informative.
Checkmate came up for the opportunity to taste and compare several Chardonnays and Merlots. The wines were fantastic and the chance to see how varietals from different vineyards compared side by side was unique. Our host there was also charming.
We also judged Clos du Soleil’s Celestial red blend to be the best value wine of the trip.
Day 3 started across the valleyin Oliver on the Black Sage Bench at Here’s The Thing Vineyards. Leah and Jamie owned our neighbourhood VQA store for years and I developed my love of BC wine under Leah’s guiding hand. Together with consultant Michael Bartier they are developing a style to express their personal taste. The Gorgeous Gamay is a great summer wine, I have it lightly chilled with almost any summer salad. David grabs the Seriously Syrah for his Sunday afternoon cooking sessions and I’m a fan of Clearly Cabernet Franc. We even got to barrel test a reserve cab franc. Many thanks for the warm welcome.
One of our group is a member at Noble Ridge Winery so off we went to OKanagan Falls.
OK Falls is one of my favourite areas full of small independent wineries but today lunch was back on the Black Sage Bench and the conversation kept turning to food so we turned back south.
I’ve been a member at Black Hills for a long time and they treat members to a special experience in a Cabana by the pool. They added food a few years ago so now we have lunch and it is one of my favourite visits. I like the chance to try wines I’m planning to age and food really makes it better.
We were inspired to try some older Note Bene recently. Nothing like a few days in the Okanagan to get your cellar reorganized.
Lunch was great at our table. The big box of warm olives with sherry and orange were gobbled up with 3 flatbreads. All delicious, the but the Okanagan with peach, prosciutto, arugula, mozzarella and chili honey was the bomb. They are doing interesting things with honey in the Okanagan, that’s for sure.
Our friends at the next table chose the charcuterie platters and were unanimously disappointed. Stick to the flatbreads.
Phantom Creek is the latest hot spot to visit. We’ve watched that spot as development dragged over years knowing that it had to be a great site. It’s going to be beautiful. It’s still unfinished and needs some maturing. I look forward to visiting again.
We’d tried to keep lunch light so we could save ourselves for dinner at Terrafina at Hester Creek. We hadn’t done the tasting their but I was hoping for a Cab Franc with dinner and I wasn’t disappointed. One of the great things about dining at a winery is getting access to their library wines and wines that are perfectly aged. I learned to love the Cab Franc varietal drinking Hester Creek’s ‘07 vintage.
The cioppino was delicious and the chicken with creamed corn and Asiago biscuit won a best meal vote.
A night in the villas at Hester Creek with dinner at Terrafina is one of the most romantic nights you could spend in the Okanagan.
Day Three 4 wineries and 2 meal. Heading home tomorrow.
There’s gold in them there hills, specifically golden Chardonnay and Riesling from Culmina Family Estate Winery, our 1st stop of the day. I haven’t chosen my favourite winery visit this year yet but Culmina is a contender. The wines are spectacular, the presentation excellent. Even the included booklet is above average with food pairing options that had us planning meals as we tasted the wines. Riesling with a curry takeaway and Chardonnay with scallops coming to a kitchen near me soon. A $10 tasting fee is waived with a purchase.
Hester Creek didn’t accept reservations and a quick stop sadly didn’t work out for us so on we went.
Second Chapter is a new winery from the folks that created Church and State and their considerable experience is obvious in creating a great tasting room experience.
Our second stop was perfectly timed for the Second Chapter’s opening at 11 and our little bubble had the deck to ourselves. I couldn’t resist the Cabernet Sauvignon and have tucked it away to give it some time grow. An $8 tasting fee is waived with a purchase.
We were starting to talk about food and next up was Tinhorn Creek with a tasting followed by lunch on the deck at Miradoro. We’ve been members at Tinhorn for years, they have good, well priced wines in environmentally friendly lightweight bottles with screw caps. The seated tasting on the deck was, like all things Tinhorn, well done. The on-site Miradoro restaurant is consistently good and we had an excellent meal.
I had a pizza with wild and cultivated mushrooms with white sauce, caramelized onions and alpindon cheese. I love pizza and mushroom should be my favourite but I’m often disappointed. This was the best I’ve ever had.
David had the salmon puttanesca and I had a hard time getting even a taste. I don’t get much from this kind of plating but perhaps it gives room to mix things up. Doesn’t matter cause this was fantastic.
When the special is a favourite dish, there can be a reluctance to try it but my carbonara loving friend called this the best meal of the trip.
We skipped dessert in favour of our reservation at Checkmate and I was keen. Home of the 100 Point Chardonnay, we have fond memories of an unforgettable visit to Antelope Ridge on our first wine tour 12 years ago. Madame Combret drove up out of the vineyard in a dusty beat up car to open up and let us try her wines. Recently renamed Antelope, they were winning awards. After a stern talking to about how to drink her Chardonnay and what to drink it with she found a case still under the Combret label. We felt lucky she let us buy her wine and drank it as instructed with scallops or prawns in cream sauce. Absolutely no hot sauce. Her vineyards are now part of Checkmate. I hope she’s proud.
The elegant tasting room feels unfinished but is beautiful and the table comfortable. Our host was interesting, informative and fun. Not for the faint of wallet the $35 tasting fee is worth it, even better get 2 for 1 if you have a visa infinite card.
Day 2 – 4 wineries and 1 restaurant and it keeps getting better.