Cabbing it in cool weather

As a relatively young wine region, the Okanagan – in truth, British Columbia and Canada – is still finding its way when it comes to identity.

  • Do we have a signature grape?
  • A signature white?
  • A signature red?

Maybe not yet, but the topic is open for much discussion.

My palate is turning toward juicier reds as autumn descends, but I’m not yet ready for the big, bold wines of winter nights.

Light pinot noir this season? Sure, when there’s enough sun on the patio before twilight. 

But I am leaning toward Cabernet Franc for fall. On its own, or with a little bit of another grape such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, B.C. Franc can stand on its own with its typical notes of red berries, cassis, plums, and violets, with some herbaceous notes and green pepper.

They're perfect reminders of summer in a red wine that will pair well with the first stew of fall.

Looking for some suggestions? Try one of these, and enjoy.

Bordertown 2016 Cabernet Franc, $24: a deep Franc, with tobacco notes and that signature green pepper. A long finish with red fruits and slightly grippy tannins. Good to open during a sudden rain storm or for Sunday dinner with the last burgers from the barbecue.

Platinum Bench 2013 Cabernet Franc Block 23, $40: sold out, so you’ll have to bribe your favourite wine geek who may have a bottle. A few years of gentle resting, plus French-oak aging created an elegant wine with black-licorice flavours and excellent balance.

Skaha Vineyard at Kraze Legz 2015 Cabernet Franc, $26: a wine made with care and finesse. This is a jammy, slightly spicy bottle with vanilla notes and a nice complexity. Delightful on its own, or, as the winery suggests, with pork and apple sauce, or a hearty, veggie lasagna.

Pentage 2013 Appassimento Style Cabernet Franc, $35: if you like Amarone, this is your wine. The grapes are partially dried, producing a concentrated, richly flavoured wine with a palate full of plums, raisons, and richness. Pair with dark chocolate.

TH Wines 2016 Cabernet Franc, $35: every bottle at this winery is famously made by hand, with minimal fuss, letting the grapes express everything you may want in a Franc. Juicy, plummy, but not too bold. Enjoy on a date night, with a selection of local cheeses.

Township 7 2016 Cabernet, $28: in addition to the Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon makes up this blend. If you prefer Sauv, you’ll find elements of black cherry, caramel, and eucalyptus. Likely the last vintage of this particular bottle, so pick it up soon.

Deep Roots 2016 Cabernet Franc, $40: bold, ripe, full of stewed red fruits, chocolate-covered cherries, fruitcake, tobacco, and a mix of spices. A full-bodied Franc that can wait a few years, if you can, or enjoy now with Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you layer bacon over your turkey.

Mission Hill 2015 Cabernet Franc, $50: the very first single varietal Franc from Mission Hill, with future vintages to come. From 21-year-old vines, it has a supremely long and elegant finish. Ready to drink now with your best friend and your take on grandma’s signature beef stew.


Wining down to fall

It suddenly feels like autumn, doesn’t it?

There are always those few days when the weather changes and even though we’ll probably have another week or two of warm weather before November hits, the hoodies are already out.

To prepare for the plethora of fall events leading up to the impending grape harvest and crush, here are a few to put in the calendar as we slowly begin to migrate indoors (for something other than the air quality).

Feast: Cookbook Writing from Dreaming to Doing, Sept. 1 (part of the Ryga Festival in Summerland)

If you’ve ever thought that you could write a cookbook, you can learn from authors Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller. They've visited every province and territory to create the bestselling book Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip. 

Join the workshop and share your own recipes and food stories and you receive practical guidance how to write about food and cooking.

Naramata Tailgate Party, Sept. 8 (sold out long ago)

If you missed out, ticket holders sometimes list a few for sale. And for next year, be sure you are on the Naramata Bench Association’s email list so you get a notification early in the summer when sales begin.

It's an evening celebration featuring distinctive wine tastings from 28 Naramata wineries with local cuisine and live music, to celebrate the coming of harvest.

Revival Wine, Food, & Music Festival at Hester Creek, Sept. 15 (postponed from the summer)

Hester Creek is celebrating 50 years, and this event is an outdoor, family-friendly music fest with music and food trucks. Bring a blanket and enjoy an early fall picnic.

Can’t make it? Take in the Garlic Festival at the winery on Sept. 29.

Fall Westjet Wine Tasting, Sept. 29: a kick-off signature event for the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival

This year, this grand consumer tasting will be at the Kelowna International Airport in the brand-new Carson Air hangar. The event will have the largest capacity of any indoor wine tasting in the Okanagan.

Heritage Fall Fair at the Grist Mill and Gardens, Sept. 23

If you’re into preserves, baking, crafts, or grow great veggies, there will be almost 100 exhibit categories to see or compete in as well as heritage games of skill, concessions, entertainment and more.

The whole site will be filled with family-oriented activity for the day.

Festival of the Grape, Oliver, Sept. 30

If you attended last year, you might have witnessed Rick Mercer stomping grapes. With more than 50 wineries, a dozen food trucks, 60 vendors in the marketplace, a kids activity area, live music on the main stage, it’s a lovely afternoon for the whole family.

That should be enough to get you through September, till the fall wine festival, harvest parties, and wine dinners are in full swing.

Garagiste gals and guys

Garagistes of the Okanagan take over Kelowna’s Sperling Vineyards Sunday afternoon.

So what is a garagiste in the grand scheme of the wine world?

Garagiste (gar-ah-jeest) originally refers to a group of winemakers in the Bordeaux region of France, producing "vins de garage" or "garage wine."

They were renegade small-lot winemakers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow industry laws and protocol. They made the wine they wanted to make.

Having held this “small guys wine festival” for several years both in the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland, Garagiste North celebrates the artisan winemaker and passion for winemaking.

It brings the hard to find, award winning, cult wines of B.C. to one spot, allowing wine aficionados the opportunity to speak directly to the winemaker.

Garagiste North, the first of its kind in Canada, only hosts wineries and winemakers that produce small case lot wines (under 2,000 cases).

It’s your chance to track down that elusive bottle or two you’ve heard of in wine circles, but can’t seem to find on a shop shelf because these winemakers, an eclectic group, typically fly just under the radar.

As organizers Jennifer Schell and Terry Meyer Stone describe it, the festival came about when a few small producers were commiserating about the challenges of selling wine when you:

  • are also working full time somewhere else
  • don't have a tasting room
  • don't have deep pockets.

Both women are garagistes with Schell Wines, and Anarchist Mountain Vineyard, respectively.

You might not get to all the 25 wineries expected, so here are a few to put on your list…

  • Black Cloud Winery for its Pinot Noir, for that’s all they do.
  • Skaha Vineyard at Kraze Legz for the Pinot Blanc
  • Cabernet Franc, and vinAmite for the Gamay Noir.

These are personal favourites, and, I hope, will be available for tasting.

Mocojo is new to me, but has been on the Naramata Bench for a few years. Viognier and Malbec are on my list.

Forgotten Hill is also new to me.

Both these wineries were born out of bed and breakfasts, and the Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from Forgotten both sound intriguing.

  • Expect a wide range of wine styles, and the person behind the barrel to be someone who wears many hats:
  • winemaker
  • salesperson
  • bottling line supervisor
  • hand labeller.

It’s from these folks that some of the best B.C. wine stories emerge because they do it all themselves, with help from their friends and colleagues when needed.

Being a garagiste is, after all, being part of a unique, kind of quirky, community.

The Garagiste pop-up wine store will be on site, so tasters can fill their baskets with their favourites before they leave.

Tickets are $49 and includes tastings, live music, and a souvenir Riedel glass, and a chance to brag about tasting wines that your friends will now have to track down.


Party at a Feast of Fields

Eat local. Drink local. Buy local.

This is a three-part mantra for many as the drive to support local farmers, producers, and businesses continues to grow and consumers are becoming hyper-aware of where their food comes from.

Okanagan Feast of Fields, celebrating its 10th anniversary on Sunday, Aug. 12, provides an opportunity to get to know your local producers – wineries, cideries, distilleries, and breweries paired with tasty bites from local chefs, featuring local ingredients, of course.

In one spot.

Billed as a “wandering harvest picnic," this year, around 500 guests will meander through the Father Pandosy Mission, a historic heritage site not far from downtown Kelowna.

Established by Father Pandosy and Father Richard, this site is the first permanent non-native settlement in the interior.

Why here? Father Pandosy was a missionary, but also a practical man and a man of the soil.

He introduced First Nations people to farming, encouraged settlers to establish themselves in the fertile areas of the valley, and helped import the first vine cuttings and apple tree seedlings.

This was the beginning of wine-and-fruit production, which has become one of the principal economic resources of the Okanagan.

After 10 years of hosting Feast at farms and vineyards, it seems fitting to descend upon this spot and celebrate the beginnings of agriculture in the Okanagan.

In addition to the wineries coming from across the valley, aspiring and established chefs return this year to show off their dishes.

Culinary Arts students from Okanagan College will serve a Hazeldell Orchards Sunrise Apple galette, but first enjoy the Pig City pasture-raised thyme and sage pork belly.

Chef Chris Whittaker from Quaaout Lodge in Chase is serving a Spotte Moose Farm Summer Vegetable Panzanella.

Chef Maria Jermigan, host of culinary weekends at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, and Chef Daniel Craig from Kelowna’s Oak + Cru, will both be there, along with their colleagues from a variety of valley restaurants.

Feast is a unique afternoon of exploring flavours and creators you may not yet know.

There’s also an important educational component with the B.C. Seed Security Program.

FarmFolk CityFolk, the organization that runs Feast, is home to the BC Seeds program and is a partner in the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security — a national program to conserve and advance seed biodiversity, keep seed in the public domain and promote ecological seed production.

Take a moment to think about a world without seeds; it’s the plot of an apocalyptic movie.

Funds raised from the three Feast of Field events in the province support FarmFolk CityFolk’s work to cultivate local, sustainable food systems across B.C.

A tasty afternoon supporting important work in agriculture, while chatting with local tastemakers. No wonder this event sells out.

Get your tickets at www.feastoffields.com before they’re gone.

More Okanagan Taste articles

About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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