Wine festivals awaking from pandemic hibernation

Festivals are coming back

The recent return of the much missed Summerland Festival of Lights, plus the introduction of the Rock’n’Roll Light Up Christmas in the Similkameen, both point in the right direction for winter culinary adventures.

Perhaps most notably for fans of the value-added ski weekend, the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society (OWFS) has awoken from its pandemic hibernation to bring back Big Reds at Big White, the first of its festival events to emerge after some time to pause and reflect.

Are the days of massive consumer tasting events a thing of the past? I certainly don’t miss shuffling around ballrooms with hundreds of others to line up for tokens or small samples, then having to be strategic about when to queue for cheese and crackers.

Big Reds – sold out so be sure to sign up for e-news and follow the OWFS social channels so you don’t miss out next year—has two nights of tastings on Dec. 9 and 10 as part of a handful of weekend activities on the mountain.

For those with tickets, the Magic of Meritage wine tasting on Friday night is all about B.C.’s Meritage red blends – wines that emulate Bordeaux-style blends – with a decidedly smaller crowd to ensure a more educational experience and less jockeying to get to the wineries and winemakers.

Saturday night is the Elevation Grand Tasting in the Village Centre Mall with a wider variety of wineries from throughout the valley.

If you missed your chance to get to Big Reds, OWFS heads south to Penticton on Jan. 27 for the Sensation Grand Tasting at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Unlike previous grand tastings at the PTCC, there is a focus for this one—complementary and contrasting pairings to educate your palate. Tickets go on sale this week.

Many of the pocket beverage associations around the province seem to be pondering how best to return from their unplanned and extended break from large scale events. While wine tastings on a grand scale and in a grand room will always be in demand, the desire for more thoughtful and educational experiences seems to be a trend as the great reboot continues.

I’ve had more questions about possible seminars coming to this spring’s Vancouver International Wine Festival scheduled for April than I have had about wineries that may attend after staying away for a couple of years.

Your favourite winery quite possibly has a plan for something subtle and pleasantly subdued over the winter. Now’s the time to check and plan.

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

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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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