Welcome to the summer of comebacks

Nostalgic fun and wines

If you’re fan of Elvis Presley, you’ll know that the title of the 2022 Penticton Elvis Festival – the Comeback Festival – is a nod to Presley’s famous 1968 Comeback Special.

You’re also probably aware that a new film about the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” simply titled Elvis, drops into movie theatres on June 24, the day after Canada’s largest and longest running Elvis Festival begins, and the day the Peach City Beach Cruise starts.

The parks around the southern end of Okanagan Lake will be full of classic cars, classic performers, tribute artists (not impersonators, but artists who sing live) and any day now, the “Elvi”will start roaming the streets of the Peach City. I can’t wait for all of it‚ or as the kids say, I am here for it.

What does that have to do with the plethora of local libations available in the Okanagan? It gives me an excuse to suggest drinks that pair with this nostalgic vibe that is about to descend upon the valley. As a sidenote, obviously don’t drink a drive but do raise a glass of one of these when you see the King appear, or – if we’re lucky, fellow Elvis fans – a 1973 Stutz Blackhawk III is spotted meandering through the valley.

In West Kelowna, Beaumont Estate Winery is named for the 1967 Beaumont, made by General Motors and a sought-after “muscle” car. Pick up a bottle of winery’s skin contact Pinot Gris, aptly named Smoke and Mirrors. If it’s there, look for the baby blue ride. If not sold out, grab a Looking for Treble t-shirt too.

Nostalgia Wines in Oliver recently held a classic car show, the Show Shine ‘n’ Wine, and obviously most of their wines are perfect for this comeback summer. The small-lot Nostalgia series has some fine bottles, but head to the pin-up series for Chantilly Lace sparkling wine, a bottle of Boogie Woogie White or Pink Cadillac rosé.

In the Shuswap, Baccata Ridge has blueberry wine. Clearly made for sipping while listening to the rockabilly classic Blue Suede Shoes. Or wearing a pair. Or both.

Given its statement that its wines are “made by scoundrels, sipped by royalty,” and on Sundays there is live music and prohibition era-inspired cocktails are on the menu, a visit to Crown & Thieves ticks a number of boxes. How about a glass of the Broken Hearts Pinot Noir?

Elvis had some unique favourite foods. The Elvis Sandwich is peanut butter, banana and bacon on white bread. Some say it also had grape jelly.

There are a number of Elvis-inspired peanut butter and banana cocktails on the Internet, several have Scotch and/or peanut butter whisky as an ingredient. Feel free to experiment.

But after I’ve checked out the classic rides and listened to some tribute artists, I’m going make myself a Sidecar cocktail, hit the patio, and listen to the song Spinout on repeat.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Book your summer events ASAP

Summer fun in Okanagan

Welcome to the first day of “June-uary.”

At some point, hopefully any day now, summer weather will be upon us. Before we know it—if not already—the influx of guests will begin as it seems everyone wants to go everywhere and do everything…right now.

As many tasting rooms stick with reservations, allowing for more educational and immersive experiences, it’s almost critical that you check out the latest offerings of your favourite establishment and book your tastings.

Even more so, it’s time to check the summer event calendar. Here are a few suggestions but be aware, that smaller events may almost be full, so don’t delay.

June 10, Lightning Rock Winery, Summerland: a handful of tickets remain for Pink-Just-Pink, a five-course wine-paired dinner exploring the many shades of pink on your plate or in your glass. lightningrockwinery.com/Tastings/Events

June 11, Summerland: Bottleneck Drive’s signature event, the Grand Sommelier Express, returns. Hop on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway for a ride to and from sipping stations and tasty bites from BRODO.

June 16 and July 21, Roche Wines, Naramata: Relax at an abstract watercolour painting workshop with artist Marina Billinghurst, whose work is on the winery’s Pinot Gris label.

June 19, Road 13, Oliver: Celebrate the summer solstice at the Young Agrarians Farm Social and learn about viticulture, winemaking, and soil science while enjoying wine and gourmet sammies and salads.

June 26, Time Winery, Penticton: Two seatings are available for a Drag Brunch and Burlesque. Tickets are sold by the table, so grab your besties for brunch and complimentary bubbles.

June 26, Maverick Estate Winery, Oliver: Sip wine and cider while enjoying wood-fired pizza by Woodwood Pizzeria.

July 15 or 16, Bartier Bros., Oliver: Beans and Jeans is a ‘sip stomping’ good time with a country-style dinner by Oliver Eats and music by Mitch Zorn, pluys here’s a ‘Rip & Beth’ lookalike contest.

July 30, Meyer Family Vineyards, Okanagan Falls: Rock out with Jack and Jill while enjoying wine, beer, and a variety of the Okanagan’s best food trucks.

Various dates, Grizzli Winery, West Kelowna: From happy hour to golden hour music in the vineyard to art shows to outdoor cinema, it’s best to explore their entire calendar.

Various dates, Township 7, Langley: The Fraser Valley location has live music on Fridays through Sept 2, and many other events this summer. https://township7.com/events/

Various dates, Blind Tiger Vineyards, Lake Country: Live in the Vineyard features local bands of various genres throughout the summer.

Sept 18, Kelowna: Always a sell out, so book now, the Okanagan Feast of Fields wandering harvest picnic returns, and heads to Wiseacre Farm Distillery.

Is your event missing? Send an email to [email protected] to be on the next roundup.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Wine industry making moves forward to sustainability

Sustainable wine industry

A theme is emerging this spring in the wine business, and it’s not just the bright-eyed enthusiasm of tasting rooms and winery patios opening for the season. It’s the business of sustainability.

If you were around wineries and a handful of gourmet food shops a few years ago, you may recall seeing Winecrush products in tasting rooms or at events. The company has transformed from turning the leftover materials from the winemaking process into tasty bites to a new name and business outlook.

Now CrushDynamics, it is pioneering a biomechanical process that, in a nutshell, takes the waste from wineries and upcycles it into food ingredients that reduce salt and sugar, boosts nutrition, reduces environmental impact and optimizes taste.

The company is reaping in millions in funding as it seeds expansion plans.

CrushDynamics began at Okanagan wineries, including Stag’s Hollow in Okanagan Falls. Stag’s Hollow recently achieved sustainability certification from Sustainable Winegrowing British Columbia (SWBC).

SWBC recognizes the efforts and achievements by wineries to minimize their impact on the environment.

This means taking a holistic approach that enhances soil health and carbon capture, promotes biodiversity, protects waterways and cares for the health and well-being of employees and the wider community.

Who knew all of this thought went into your glass of pinot?

Meanwhile, SWBC member Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna is looking up from the soil and vines to the power of the sun to do more than just ripen grapes.

Working with SolShare Energy, Tantalus has just gone live with bifacial solar panels on the winery’s main building, anticipated to produce 60,000 kWh of energy per year. At peak times, the solar system will offset 70% to 100% of Tantalus’ electrical consumption. It is SolShare’s first project in Kelowna.

Further south, in Summerland, Okanagan Crush Pad is the first Canadian winery to join the IWCA – the International Wineries for Climate Action.

Founded by Familia Torres (Penedes, Spain) and Jackson Family Wines (California, USA) in 2019, IWCA set out to galvanize the global wine community to create climate change mitigation strategies and decarbonize the industry.

From May 23 to 26, 150 speakers from around the world will converge, virtually, for Green Wine Future from eight regions (presented in English, Spanish and French), to discuss climate change, biodiversity, wine tourism, regenerative viticulture, and more.

Canada will be represented by keynote speakers Chief Clarence Louisof the Osoyoos Indian Band and Melanie Mark, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport.

These are all great steps in the greening of the wine industry.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Award-winning wines for mom on her special day

Toast mom with these wines

There are plenty of options for brunch for Mother’s Day this weekend, but if the mom or the mother figure in your life is more of an oenophile and appreciates good wine more than eggs benny, here are some bottles to wrap up as your gift.

First, take note, all of these bottles are winners from last week’s Cascadia International Wine Competition held in Richland, Wa. You can scroll through the gold and double gold medalists on Facebook until the final full list for 2022 is posted on the web.

This competition accepts entries from across the Pacific Northwest, so it is, indeed, international.

And, you can legitimately say to your ma one of the judges at Cascadia – that would be me – recommends these bottles from B.C. Judging is done blind, but after all the swirling, sniffing and spitting was done, I discovered a few of these were in my flights. I even recognized a couple of them as being from the Okanagan.

Maan Farms Estate Winery in Abbotsford won double gold for its 2020 Strawberry-Raspberry blend fruit wine. Yes, a fruit wine. The aromas wafting out of the glass were akin to a fresh pie cooling on the window sill.

Still in a slightly sweeter style, Stag’s Hollow Winery’s 2021 Tragically Vidal was also a double gold winner, and a spot-on Vidal, as noted by one of my fellow judges.

This table wine is perfect with a fresh fruit salad if you’re making brunch for mom. So is gold medal winner Wild Goose for its 2019 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. Wild Goose also took gold for its 2021 Sauvignon Blanc and Upper Bench in Naramata won gold for its 2019 Estate Chardonnay.

Both Hester Creek and Gehringer Brothers took gold medals for some unique white blends. Hester Creek for its recent vintage of Pinot Gris-Viognier, and Gehringer Brothers for its 2021 Desert Sun (a Riesling-based blend), and its Gewürztraminer-Schönburger. Hester Creek also won double gold for its 2021 Old Vines Pinot Blanc.

While the Okanagan’s aromatic whites shine in competition and our terroir invites much jealousy from other winemakers in the Pacific Northwest, our reds were recognized as well.

Double gold for Volcanic Hills 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. When I realized this bold B.C. red wine had been in one of my flights, and my judging panel pushed it to double gold status, I was both thrilled and amazed, thinking it was from somewhere further south. Serve this with a steak for your ma.

Volcanic Hills took a gold medal for its 2017 Merlot, as did Phantom Creek for its 2019 Kobau Vineyard Syrah.

The top wine overall was a spectacular sparkling wine from 3100 Cellars in Idaho. Not available here, but I thought it might have been a bottle of 2018 Polaris from Township 7. Short of whipping down to Idaho, this B.C. bubbly is an ideal option for toasting mom.


This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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.

Previous Stories