We rented a house in Penticton this year and enjoyed the well equipped and comfortable space while testing some of our purchases around the fire pit. We argued about the best wines and meals and came up with our top picks at the end of 3 busy days eating and drinking our way through Peachland, Summerland, Penticton and Naramata.
It was a beautiful drive and our first stop was Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards in Peachland. A tasting by Brenda on the patio with an expansive view of the lake ended with my first purchases, a delicious Brut and a Pinot Blanc. Tasting $7.50.
Lunch on their patio at 19 Bistro Fitz was good. It was their final day of the season so a few things weren’t available, but all 6 of us liked our meals. I had the tuna on crispy rice. Delicious rice made a crispy bed for avocado, tuna, greens, red curry aioli & cilantro vinaigrette. Fries replaced the potato wedges on the menu and they were perfect and the saffron sauce was a great topper.
Next stop Lightning Rock Winery. Tasting was $10pp but they didn’t have many wines left to taste so a bit disappointing. Beautiful location. Maybe worth keeping an eye on.
Our final winery of the day was Time Winery in Penticton. There was lots to taste and we left with McWatters Collection Meritage and Time Syrah. Fees waived for Visa Infinite cardholders. Great atmosphere.
Dinner saw us returning to Play Winery. We’d had a bad dinner experience there a few years ago but Sonetta at Play was a complete turn around. From the warm welcome to the delicious food we were impressed. The chef was away due to a family emergency so there were a few delays but the food, service and clear team effort made up for it. The Humboldt squid steak was pronounced the best ever tasted. Don’t miss the bread.
Day 2 and we had 5 wineries booked on the Naramata Bench. Starting at Wesbert, a South African family owned winery. We hoped for an opportunity to add local pinotage to our cellar and weren’t disappointed. I’m going to try and give them a little time to age.
We were the only people there at 10:30am and Marianne did her best to organize us within the rules of the tasting plan, served as a flight for the table. 6 of us have some strong opinions so it wasn’t easy. Wesbert has a nice covered patio, serves pizza in high season and has suites to rent. $10pp tasting fee.
Next up another new one for us, Moraine Estate Winery. Simon graciously hosted us on the covered patio overlooking the vineyard and lake. The wines were everything we wanted and we came home with a mixed case of Cab Franc, Malbec and Syrah. The Malbec another chance to add a rare local varietal to our stock. The bathroom with the « special » mirror is not to be missed either. $15 tasting fee waived with purchase.
We’d never been to Therapy Winery either and wanted to check out the deluxe suites. The outside patio tasting is luxurious and so are the suites. I was on the fence about the wines and feel this is a winery in transition and maybe worth checking again in the future.
I can hardly believe we pulled off a forth tasting before lunch. Darrell at Lake Breeze is one efficient dude, keeping the info and wine flowing. I love this place, the wine, the food and the physical space make for an exceptional experience.
Lunch on the patio was excellent as usual.
I was sad to be sharing the trout.
Our final winery was Hillside, another favourite, but the wines were poured as a flight and the heavy reds were hot in the sun by the time we got to them. Our host David was knowledgeable and friendly.
A break back at our rental and we tried to work up an appetite for dinner playing bacci and shooting hoops.
Dinner at Time Winery & Kitchen was a hit. The service exceptional. Starting with a complimentary glass of Chronos Brut was a lovely way to set the mood. There’s something for everyone on the menu. The fries were great with several options. I loved the Parmesan topping with black garlic mayo. Deep fried confit duck wings are a must, even for this vegaquarian.
Day 3 and our pallets were tired. We had a plan to taste only the varietals on our shopping list. Good luck.
First stop Lock & Worth, a collaboration with Poplar Grove Creamery. The tasting in the garden pairs 3 cheeses with 3 wines and we loved it. Left with 2 excellent Sauvignon Blancs and 3 cheeses.
Next stop La Frenz, we finally gave in and joined the club. The wines are so good but always sold out. Another tasting served as a flight though. I hope this is a trend that goes away.
Lunch was booked at Poplar Grove’s restaurant Vanilla Pod, but first an exclusive club member tasting in the private room. Our host Laura really knew her stuff and had our compete attention.
And we merrily moved to the dining room. I’d go just for the Parker Rolls but fried oysters and Tom Kha were great too. This was our all around favourite meal last year. Was it going to be a repeat winner ?
The last winery of our trip was Da Silva an elevated tasting experience with 6 Riedel varietal specific glasses at each seat. Allison poured, described and guided us through the excellent selection of wines. One of the best of of the trip.
We returned to The Kitchen @ Da Silva for dinner and although the food was very good the overall experience is not as good. The menu is tapas and paella. All tapas must be ordered at once so if you like something and it’s not quite enough for the table you’re out of luck. The paella didn’t have those crispy rice edges and should probably only be served if it’s for the whole table. They tell you to expect to be there for several hours but the over half the chairs are incredibly uncomfortable. I would say it’s not a good choice for a group and would give it another try if it were just 2 of us.
We also visited the VQA Information Centre in Penticton and picked up some wines that were hard to find. They have an excellent gift shop. Well worth a visit.
I’m conclusion we decided the best Winery visit was Moraine, with Da Silva and Lock & Worth definitely in the discussion. Our favourite restaurant was Sonetta @ Play and The Patio @ Lake Breeze coming in a close second.