20 July 2011

Okanagan Wine Tour Guide -- Part Two

This video was originally intended to show off Ryan's cool herb pot (I want one), but it ended up being more about trying to get Bandit to look at the camera.

On Day #2 of our Okanagan Wine Tour, we explored Westbank with one of the locals (ie. Ryan) for our tour guide. But not before eating his food once again! Chocolate chip pancakes! SO GOOD. And they sort of set a chocolate theme for the rest of the day.

Behold my touring companions at Quails' Gate. [It should be noted that we would see many actual quails in the course of this day, scurrying in pairs across the highway.]

Our wine tasting included some more chocolate for breakfast: this time a dessert wine served in a chocolate cup.

Wine Notes
2010 Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris -- sweet, bright, fresh, fruity

Little Straw Vineyards

I'd never heard of this winery and neither have most of the wine shops I've visited since I've returned to Vancouver. (In fact the only place I've found it so far is in a liquor store in Campbell River!) But it was one of my favourite wineries. Simple and unassuming. Just quality wines! Whites, reds and even ice wines! All good.

Wine Notes
2010 Old Vines Auxerrios -- peaches 'n' cream, smooth
2007 Pinot Noir -- vanilla & black cherry
2006 Lemberger Icewine -- Pointing to my John Schreiner guidebook, I asked, "Where's the dessert wine that tastes like crème brûlée?!" Well, I was told, they ran out of it, but they do have this new red icewine that tastes like raspberry crème brûlée! Indeed it does. $40.

Volcanic Hills Estate Winery -- We would later encounter a Calgarian wine snob at Mt Boucherie who said he refused to taste wine here because it smells like samosas. (They sell them in the store.) Whatever, I think wine & samosas would be a delicious combination.

Wine Notes
2009 Gamay -- a decent red, most notable for its price: UNDER $10!

Mt Boucherie Estate Winery

A busy little shop. It should be noted that the above wineries (with the exception of Quails' Gate) are situated more or less within a stone's throw from each other. The area they occupy is a stratovolcano.

Wine Notes
Summit Reserve 2005 Cabernet Franc -- dry, spice, not too intense; acidic finish; pair with duck. [I later wound up pairing this with smoked goat gouda and it was great.]
Summit Reserve 2009 Pinot Noir -- didn't taste this in the store but bought it based on the Calgarian wine snob's raving about it. We drank it while camping and it is indeed a solid Pinot. Quite lovely paired with relaxing by a tent overlooking a lake, following a good long day's hard-wine-tasting-work.

We dined with our tour guide at Kelly O'Bryan's, and then bid him adieu. We headed down the west coast of Okanagan Lake, with time to spare for one more winery stop in Summerland. (That's the thing about winery touring... you have to start early because most of them close around 5 pm. ...It's probably a good thing.)

Dirty Laundry Vineyard

As evidenced by this photo of their dining area, Dirty Laundry tries really hard. They've got their whole marketing scheme down, based on a guy that at one time ran a laundromat that doubled as a bordello -- not on the site of the winery, not of relation to anyone who ever worked there -- the laundromat just happened to be located somewhere in Summerland. And they have appointed themselves the teller of this story. The site is littered with "risqué" items, accompanied by a whole bunch of "risqué" merchandise for sale.

They have specially designed wine labels, one of which is sold with its own magnifying glass so that you can discern the tiny "naughty" illustrations that make up its pattern.

And they have a fancy tasting room where they will tell you their little marketing blurb, then say, "Now that you know the legend, you've been pegged!" and stick a clothes peg stamped with their name on you.

All of this prompted the Lynley quote, Wineries are like people—some of them are phonies and showboaters; some of them are just good at what they do.

Luckily, while Dirty Laundry is a tonne of column A, they are some of column B as well -- their wines are not bad. While my favourite was the rosé, I was amazed at how a piece of chocolate that they served us to pair with a Cab-Merlot transformed it from a fairly average-tasting dry red into a most delicious experience.

Wine Notes
Hush 2010 -- Rosé; cotton candy aftertaste
Bordello 2008 -- aforementioned red (49.5% Cab Sauv, 49.5% Merlot, 1% Cab Franc), which comes with accompanying magnifying glass for the racy label. This is the wine that was served with chocolate. Given the $40 price tag, I plan to experiment on cheaper average-tasting dry red & chocolate combinations before indulging in this one.

What a day. "Wine is fun!" Right, guys?

Ok. Time for dinner and camping. But wait: we were passing through Okanagan Falls, so a visit to Tickleberry's was mandatory. This is a SMALL cone. Cherry custard and grape flavours. OH MAN. That grape ice cream is probably the best ice cream I've ever had.

We set up our tent at Gallagher Lake, drank my Mt Boucherie Pinot, then headed to the bar across the street.

Take special note of the sign.

What a quaint little pub.

Even better than the pub: the pups!

They breed dobermans in the neighbourhood, and they bring the puppies into the bar to socialize them!

Thus brings our Canada Day to a close, book-ended by some awesome Canadian animals, and filled with delicious Canadian wines, chocolates, ice creams and people.


  1. YAY! I opened the Volcanic Hills Syrah and it lived it up to the tasting. Goes perfectly well with toasted sesame crackers and brie. A little bit more pricey than the $10 Gamay but very delicious.


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