Jun 10, 2013 / 5:00 am
Last week the Wine Bloggers Conference came to the Okanagan, shining the spotlight on our wine industry and allowing bloggers to participate in professional development sessions to hone their craft. In Kelowna, we were fortunate to host a pre-tour for delegate bloggers in advance of the core conference. The goal was to enhance their knowledge of the history of wine in the Okanagan Valley, setting the context for their explorations during the conference. Kelowna is widely recognized as the birthplace of the BC wine industry, with the Okanagan’s oldest wineries located here. With this in mind, we set out to show them some of the wineries along the Lakeshore Wine Route, that have elements of the area’s wine history as well as unique stories to tell today.
Our blogger guests arrived on Wednesday, and shuttles took them to their Hotel Eldorado and Manteo Resort digs. Later that afternoon, we transferred the group to Summerhill Pyramid Winery where we met winemaker Eric von Krosigk and Permaculture Designer Gabe Cipes for a winery tour and orientation to how the winery farms biodynamically. We were treated to a 6 course organic and wild dinner by Chef Jesse Croy of Sunset Organic Bistro, who in my opinion is one of the city’s great unsung culinary heroes for his creativity and ingenuity in the kitchen. It was a spectacularly creative dinner and an evening that truly kicked off our Kelowna Excursion with originality.
The next morning, our intrepid group of wine bloggers headed to one of the oldest vineyard sites in the area, Tantalus Vineyards, for a breakfast of champions (waffles, croissants & housemade bread, and poached eggs among other treats by Chef Mark Filatow of Waterfront Wines Restaurant… oh my goodness!) and a tour in the vineyard, including a full-on bee demonstration at Tantalus’ vineyard hives by neighboring bee keeper Helen Kennedy of Arlo’s Honey Farm.
Even though grapes aren’t dependant on polinization by bees, Tantalus’ philosophy is to be in harmony with the surrounding agricultural lands, much of which is orchard or farmland that is dependent on bees for polinization. Since Tantalus doesn’t spray herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers, their vineyard is pristine and a healthy and safe place for bees to be based. They have struck a clever partnership with Arlo’s Honey Farm to set up hives in their vineyard, and even produce Tantalus honey! The group was fascinated by this big-picture philosophy at the winery, and especially from the incredible experience of tasting honey straight out of the hive. I could hear guests’ animated chatter about what they’d learned as we filed into Tantalus’ tank cellar, then barrel cellar, and finally the expansive deck for a special wine tasting with winemaker David Paterson.
Curiosity piqued, we piled into our bus, driven by Distinctly Kelowna Tours, for the scenic ride to our final winery destination, CedarCreek Estate Winery. CedarCreek was one of BC’s first 8 wineries, so this business has great perspective on our wine industry as well. We enjoyed an interpretive walk up through the vineyard, something I haven’t done at CedarCreek before, along the Senator’s Trail. Along the way the winery staff had set up special food and wine pairings, and we grazed and gazed over the beautiful view.
Our lunch at CedarCreek was an elegant affair in their outdoor event space next to the rose garden. We feasted on pulled-pork sliders and local greens, paired with CedarCreek’s expressive and bold big reds. It was a magnificent tour altogether, and when we sent our group off on their way to the conference in Penticton, we know that they left with confidence in their discoveries on the history and wine culture of the Okanagan Valley and our Kelowna Wine Trails.
May 27, 2013 / 5:00 am
September 7 may seem like a long way away, but if running a half marathon has been something you’ve toyed with, now is the time to start planning and training. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or not, this is an achievable goal and a gift to your strength and stamina. Just ask my colleague Jenny: this time last year she joked that she would only run if she was being chased. In January, she learned about the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon coming in September, and it spoke to her. She signed up for a running clinic. She’s now well on her way to meeting the challenge, and with Fresh Air’s upcoming Half Marathon Clinic (starting on June 11 and culminating with the September 7 race), you can set this goal for yourself, too.
So what’s this Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon all about? It’s the inaugural race of its kind in Canada, and joins the ranks of 5 other Wine Country Half-Marathons that are organized by the professional race planners, Destination Races, whose motto is “Cool Races in Beautiful Places.”. The run will begin at Vibrant Vine Vineyards in East Kelowna, and the course takes runners through the beautiful vineyard and orchard-lined backroads of Kelowna, stopping in at Tantalus Vineyards (for a tasting, no less!) before descending to lake-level and finishing at Waterfront Park with a Wine Festival at the finish line. For any health-minded, wine-loving, exploration-oriented runner, this will be a race not to be missed.
(Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Kelowna)
This view over The Harvest Golf Club is one of the many beautiful vistas that will enchant runners of the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon on September 7.
The fact that it is Canada’s first Wine Country Half Marathon is an added bonus. Kelowna vied for the prestigious event against other Canadian wine country locations, and we are proud that the organizers felt an affinity with our scenic and recreation-loving city to award the event to our city this September. It will be a three-day long festival to celebrate running, wine, and healthy lifestyle. Do you have a fitness-fiend family member or friend who likes to visit you in Kelowna? Sign up together and show them this part of the Kelowna lifestyle – it always helps to have a partner in a challenge like this.
As for you, fellow fair-weather runner, here’s how to do it: Fresh Air’s Half Marathon Clinic is set for Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer, and will plot out the healthy and sustainable path to a half-marathon for you so that by the time September 7 comes around, you’ll be ready and capable to meet the task. Cost for the clinic is $99 for the 13-week clinic or $174 for both the clinic and the race (since the race entry cost is $95, there’s a savings to be had with this combo). Fresh Air is also throwing in a T-shirt, training manual, and $50 in savings at the Fresh Air store. As far as gifts to yourself are concerned, this one pretty much tops the charts.
See what I mean? Totally achievable. And totally motivational. Now all we need to seal the deal is the registration form and a nice glass of Riesling.
May 13, 2013 / 5:00 am
We hope everyone had a great time at Spring Wine Festival! We hope that the events left you inspired to incorporate wine touring into your weekends and days off. With this in mind, Tourism Kelowna has just delivered our 2013 (hot off the press) Kelowna Wine Trails brochure to households throughout Kelowna in conjunction with Saturday’s (May 10) Capital News delivery. The idea being that you’ll be equipped to play host or guide to your friends and relatives when they come to town, and will have the Kelowna Wine Trails ready to go and at your disposal. Or maybe you just want to get out for a little wine touring adventure of your own.
The great thing about the wineries in the Kelowna area is that they are rich in stories and personality. Elegant, bold, flavourful wines are backed-up by intriguing stories and vivacious personalities at all of Kelowna’s 5 wine trails. It’s a winning combination. If you didn’t receive the Wine Trails Brochure in your Saturday Capital News, you can find this new brochure at local Visitor Centres and wineries, as well as select local tourism businesses. We also posted it on our website so that you can peruse it online.
The brochure includes 19 local wineries, 2 distilleries, and one brewery grouped together in natural geographic clusters along 5 wine trails. You might choose to tour along the Grapes and Grains Trail downtown (Calona Wines, Tree Brewing, Urban Distilleries, and Okanagan Spirits) and finish the tour off with a great dinner at RauDZ Regional Table. Or you may wish to get into the orchard-line roads of East Kelowna and tour the Kelowna Fab Five Trail and finish off with a farm-sourced pizza at Bellissimo Pizza on Spiers Rd.
How about the Lakeshore Wine Route and the spectacular lake views along this wine trail? Choose to start at Tantalus Vineyards, then head over to Lakeshore Rd and stop in at St. Hubertus Estate Winery, CedarCreek Estate Winery, and finish up at Summerhill Pyramid Winery where you can also satisfy your growling tummy with a fantastic winery dinner.
The Westside Wine Trail offers equally stunning (but opposite) views of Okanagan Lake. Be sure to start your tour at the north end of Boucherie Rd but save Quails’ Gate Estate Winery as your last stop to enjoy an elegant dinner at Old Vines Restaurant right amongst the vines. Lake Country also has a terrific wine trail: the Lake Country Scenic Sip Trail. Here you’ll find 5 wineries set in achingly beautiful pastoral countryside. If you plan to dine at Gray Monk Estate Winery’s Grapevine restaurant, you’ll be treated to hearty wine country cuisine, some of it with a nod to Chef Willi Franz’s Bavarian roots.
Photo of Tantalus Vineyards by Brian Sprout, courtesy of Tourism Kelowna.
Beautiful scenery along Kelowna Wine Trails.
There’s so much to learn, right in our own backyard. That’s the beauty – you don’t have to go far to get into some gorgeous vineyard-lined countryside and taste some staggeringly yummy wines. Well, now you can use this fresh tool to check out the trails! Enjoy!
Apr 29, 2013 / 5:00 am
Kelowna, we have some cool customers in town this week. If you see them around, be sure to give them a warm welcome. The Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop is taking place this week in Kelowna. This scholarly group is here to dive into professional development workshops on writing, pitching, crafting a story, coming up with angles, and how to present their work. They will do this from the focused environment of their Delta Grand Okanagan Resort digs, and then put their learnings into practice by visiting local hot spots for food and wine and using the experiences and characters they meet here as fodder for their stories, blogs, and writings.
The workshop is organized by ‘seasoned’ food writer Jennifer Cockrall-King (pardon the pun), and has become an annual occurrence in Kelowna. Cockrall-King has had her articles published in numerous publications across Canada ranging from West World Magazine to enRoute magazine and has written a book on urban agriculture called Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution.
The participants for the workshop come from all over Canada to hone their writing, including Calgary, Edmonton, Swift Current, Ottawa, Toronto, and several local writers. She has assembled an impressive cast of instructors who will join her in leading the workshop sessions of the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop.
- Amy Rosen - James Beard-nominated journalist and the acting food editor at Chatelaine magazine, columnist with the National Post, and a regular contributor to major food pages in Canada and the US. www.amyrosen.com
- Shelley Boettcher - wine columnist at the Calgary Herald. Her second wine book, Uncorked: The Definitive Guide to Alberta's Best Wines $25 and Under, was released in November 2012. www.shelleyboettcher.com
- Jennifer Schell - food and wine writer, columnist, editor of B.C. Food & Wine Trails Magazine and author of the best-selling cookbook, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker – An Okanagan Cookbook.
- Curtis Gillespie - editor and co-founder of the multi-award winning new Canadian magazine, Eighteen Bridges. His writing has appeared in magazines worldwide, and he is the author of five books, most recently Almost There: The Family Vacation Then and Now.
A few highlights of their food and wine experiences in Kelowna will be meeting some of Kelowna’s top chefs at exclusive dinner venues, including Gold Medal Plates competitor Mark Filatow (Waterfront Wines), Stuart Klassen (Delta Grand Okanagan Executive Chef), Bernard Casavant (Manteo Resort’s Smack DAB), Jesse Croy (Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s Sunset Bistro), and Jeremy Luypen (Cabana Grille).
They will also tour the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, enjoy a winery tour at Summerhill, have dinner on the Lake Lounge houseboat on Okanagan Lake, take in a canning demonstration with BC Tree Fruits and lunch with orchardists, learn food preparation and cutting techniques at Knife Wear, make bread at Okanagan Grocery Artisan Breads, learn about roasting coffee at the Bean Scene, and enjoy a spirits tasting experience at Okanagan Spirits. Distinctly Kelowna Tours will provide the group with knowledgeable guided transportation.
There is so much to see and do in Kelowna if you’re a foodie… and if your passion is to write about it, then this workshop is undoubtedly the crème de la crème in professional development. Enjoy our food and wine charms, workshop participants – we hope you’ll be back in town again soon!
Read more Ripe with Surprises articles
- A race to test your toughness Apr 15
- Farmers’ Market takes it outdoors Apr 2
- Kelowna golf season 2013 has arrived Mar 18
- Kelowna's shining collection Mar 4
- A guide for all seasons Feb 18
- Culinary Championships ignite Kelowna Feb 4
- Free Classical music concert Jan 21
- Resolving to think local Jan 7
- A beautiful skate Dec 10
- Getting in the Christmas Spirit Nov 26
- Never a bad day for a wine tour Nov 12
- Breakfast of champions Oct 29
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