Entering the Okanagan Valley after crossing the Canadian border and traveling north by bus, we were all amazed at the number of wineries, vineyards and diverse terroirs in this spectacular region. Lake Okanagan is the largest of a chain of lakes, fed by rivers, that run north/south through the valley. The lakes are framed by hills and benches on either side that create a diversity of soils and microclimates.
During our 3-day visit, we tasted wines at 8 excellent wineries in the Okanagan. In general, the wines seemed to have good acidity – probably due to the area’s cooler climate. We tasted a wide diversity of wines types and styles. Whites included: Pinot Gris/Grigio; Riesling; Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc; and, Gewürztraminer. Pinot Gris/Grigio really seemed to be ubiquitous. We were told that this grape is the Okanagan’s most widely planted white variety. There were other not-as-well-known white varieties like Trebbiano, Auxerrois and Ehrenfelser.
Reds that stood out were Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. There were also some good Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and red blends.
The wines that I appreciated the most were the sparkling wines made in the traditional French style and the dessert wines. The ice wines were simply to die for! Guess what I brought home.
The highlight of the trip was a spectacular wine tasting and lunch at the Evolve Winery owned by the Society’s old friend, Harry McWatters. Harry, one of our long-time Tri-Cities Wine Festival judges, was a driving force in the development of the British Columbia wine industry.
Thank you to Ted Davis and Tony Pennella for putting together this incredible wine tour. A special thank you to everyone who attended and sent the great photos for this edition of the newsletter. I am only sorry I could not use all of them due to space limitations.