Thursday 19 September 2013

BCWAS Bus Tour 2013: Summerland

Our Saturday night dinner at Local Lounge with Tom & Tari Di Bello and Robert Van Westen concluded with BC Wine Appreciation Society members locking in their wine orders and bidding adieu to our talented guests. Many guests turned in for the evening after dinner, grateful for Sunday’s later 9am muster call. Our first appointment that day was just minutes away at Sumac Ridge Winery. Winery Experience Manager Kristina was on hand to welcome us to one of BC’s oldest estate wineries, where we enjoyed our morning bubbly outside under the clearing skies.

Netted vines ready for harvest at Sumac Ridge

For those who hadn’t already enjoyed sparkling wine with breakfast there was the quintessential 2008 Steller’s Jay, the non-vintage “Tribute” Blanc de Blancs, and the 2005 “Pinnacle” Reserve Sparkling, the most complex and elegant of the three. While we moved on to the Black Sage Vineyard 2010 Merlot, Kristina suggested we keep our eyes peeled for an upcoming sparkling Shiraz, and even a varietal Zinfandel. With the Sumac Ridge tasting room just around the corner many members took the opportunity to stock up on sparkling, and we even captured a group photo back outside, with newly refreshed glasses of Pinnacle in hand.

Steller's Jay magnums and other treats at Sumac Ridge

Magnums of Steller’s Jay and other treats safely ensconced in the bus we headed back through Summerland to 8th Generation Vineyards, on the south side of town. Winery Proprietors Bernd & Stefanie Schales were awaiting us in their beautifully decorated picnic area, with a slew of wines and mouth-watering baked goods from True Grain Bread. Each wine was paired with one of the many breads, pastries, and cookies from this highly successful, local organic bakery.

Beautiful decorations welcome us to 8th Generation

We enjoyed wines such as the 2012 Classic Riesling with ancient grain Emmer bread, the 2012 Integrity Frizzante with a classic French croissant, and 2011 Pinot Noir with gingerbread cookies. The chance to try the powerful 2011 Riesling “Selection” saw almost the entire remaining stock at the winery sold out during our visit! The enthusiastic crowd also descended upon the remaining Cheddar Twists, French Baguettes, Sourdough, and Chocolate Croissants brought along from True Grain, with a great many compliments to the baking team.

Enjoying the sun and shade at 8th Generation

Having just filled up on breads we headed off to our lunch visit post-haste, where nearby Okanagan Crush Pad was hosting BCWAS favourite Joy Road Catering, and a festival style wine and food visit. OCP’s house brands Haywire and Bartier-Scholefield were being poured in earnest along with many gems from clients Perseus, Sage Hills, Bartier Brothers, and Harper’s Trail. After an introduction by Owner Christine Coletta, Chief Winemaker Michael Bartier brought us into the Switchback vineyard to describe his grape-growing and winemaking philosophies, while Joy Road’s servers circulated with trays of canapés.

Winemaker Michael Bartier speaks to OCP guests

Upon returning to the winery we found ourselves practically swimming in exquisite food and wine choices, including Heirloom Tomato Galette, Merguez Sausage & Homemade Pita, Grilled Striploin & Caponata, Wild Salmon Sliders, and Melon Carpaccio with Prosciutto. With dozens of wines on hand there was an ideal pairing for everything, which many members gladly explored!

Impressive wines from OCP's in-house brands

To conclude our winery tours we spent the remainder of the afternoon after departing OCP enjoying the lively atmosphere and great company at Sonoran Winery. Proprietors Adrian and Sarah Smits provided for a seated tasting of their extensive portfolio, which focuses strongly on aromatic whites, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Oraniensteiner, and Ehrenfelser. That being said, sampling 2007 Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec was also quite a treat, while several platters of baked brie with Cabernet-caramelized onions were passed around. The fun was amplified by the live music and bouts of karaoke that emerged, led with gusto by Sarah and our very own bus driver, plus courageous BCWAS members!

A bevy of awards for Sonoran Estate

Our unexpected party at Sonoran led to a delay in returning to the Resort for dinner, but Local Lounge graciously accommodated our revised schedule. We certainly didn’t want anything getting in the way of our dinner with Harry McWatters! Harry had brought wines from his McWatters Collection and TIME Estate Winery portfolios, to pair with a four-course family style dinner led masterfully yet again by Chef Lee.

Local Lounge: Seared Scallops with Foie Gras Mousse, Truffled Apple Emulsion, Poached Apple, and Smoked Hazelnut Crumble

With the new TIME 2011 Chardonnay guests enjoyed Fraser Valley Rabbit Terrine while Harry discussed the great advances in BC wine culture over the years. Seared Scallops followed, with TIME’s smooth, tropical 2012 White Meritage. The entrée course included heaping trays of Roasted Ling Cod, as well as Grilled Beef Tenderloin, served with McWatters Collection 2011 Chardonnay and TIME 2011 Red Meritage.

Local Lounge: Roasted Ling Cod with Sauteed Kale, Honey-Glazed Charred Octopus, and Fester's Red Pepper Bisque

An inventive and delicious dessert course included the McWatters Collection 2009 Red Meritage both in our glasses and in the chocolate cake served with poached blackberries and caramel espresso ice cream. Over and above the fantastic food and wine, listening to Harry’s decades of insights on the BC wine trade was a treat; his passion and integrity have helped build an entire industry, and he has no plans of slowing down!

Local Lounge: Warm Meritage Chocolate Cake with Poached Blackberries, and Caramel Espresso Ice Cream

Concluding our bus tour at the same superb venue in which it began seemed particularly apt; enjoying local food and wine is what the tour is all about. Celebrating BC’s best with a great group of passionate people left me energized and excited to do it all again next year!

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