British Columbia’s Okanagan Fall Wine Festival – Virginia Hutton

 I attended the Okanagan Fall Festival this year, along with five other notable Canadian journalists to experience Canada’s premier Fall Wine Festival. This year’s fall wine Okanagan Fall Wine Festival connected wine lovers to winemakers from the region with events designed to celebrate their unique and award-winning wines.

Located in southern British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in Canada, with an average winter temperature of -8 C and 28 C in the summer – it’s slightly cooler than eastern France. The Valley and its wine industry have matured tremendously over the last 30 years, boasting 280 wineries and offering visitors the opportunity to experience one of the world’s premier wine and culinary destinations.

This year’s Okanagan Fall Wine Festival included the province’s most prestigious and oldest wine competition, The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards (BCLGWA) held at the historic Laurel Heritage Packinghouse in Kelowna. There were more than 700 entries in this year’s competition. The Wine of the Year Award went to Deep Roots Winery’s for their 2017 Syrah, representing consistency in a varietal and a combination of superb grapes and winemaking.

Also part of the Festival was the Fall WestJet Wine Tasting at YLW in the Carson Air Hangar. It is Kelowna’s largest indoor wine-tasting event, with over 40 wineries serving up their most popular varieties. Guests were entertained by a live DJ and sampled cuisine from around the world from food trucks parked outside the hanger.  Joined by Canadian wine experts and journalists Gurvinder Bhatia, Darren Oleksyn and Tim Pawsey, we sipped our way from Lake Country in the north to Osoyoos – Canada’s only desert, in the south. Our tour included meeting the talented winemakers behind O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars, 50th Parallel Estate, Indigenous World Winery, Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Moon Curser Vineyards, Nk’Mip Cellars, Nobel Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Wild Goose Vineyards and Time Winery.

Over 90% of the Okanagan wineries have earned the British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance, or BC VQA designation – similar to the AOC and DOC systems utilized in France and Italy respectively, which guarantees the origin and ensures qualifying wines meet certain minimum quality requirements. BC VQA wines are made from 100% BC grapes, and are free from certain potential faults, and the labels include where the grapes are grown and the wine is produced. And, many Okanagan winemakers have embraced environmentally friendly, lower-energy wine-making methods and built sustainability and philanthropy into their business models, with many using solar energy, gravity flow to move the juice and composting to replenish nutrients in the soil. 

According to Wines of British Columbia, there are over 80 grape varieties being grown in BC, with 51% being red varietals and 49% white varietals. The most notable reds include: merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah / shiraz and gamay noir, with top notable white being: pinot gris, chardonnay, gewürztraminer, riesling, sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc and viognier. Several winemakers are taking advantage of the recent growth in sparkling wines and are now producing white and rose varieties. The Region is also is well-known for producing high-quality, award winning icewines, with Inniskillen, Okanagan Estates and Whistler receiving Gold Medals, and Nk’Mip and Jackson Triggs Okanagan being awarded Silver Medals at the 2019 Wine Align Awards.

 

 

With Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter Wine Festivals, it’s always a great time to visit and enjoy world-class award-winning wine and dining experiences. It’s worth the trip to Okanagan Wine Festivals.

 

 

Wineries visited:

O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars 

50th Parallel Estate

Indigenous World Winery

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Moon Curser Vineyards

Nk’Mip Cellars

Nobel Ridge Vineyard & Winery

Wild Goose Vineyards

Time Winery

British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Festivals
http://www.thewinefestivals.com

British Columbia’s Two (Award-Winning) Indigenous Wineries – Virginia Hutton

During my visit to Okanagan in October, I attended the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, and also had the opportunity to visit British Columbia’s two Indigenous wineries.

50 Years ago, the first aboriginal winery in Canada, Nk’Mip Cellars was launched by former Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Sam Baptiste. Osoyoos, in British Columbia’s, (BC) Okanagan region is Canada’s only desert and its sandy soils are used for growing 40% Okanagan wines.

The Okanagan region is located in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and has a dry and mild climate with no month having a below 0°C average temperature. The summers are hot and dry with temperatures occasionally topping 40 °C.

Nk’Mip Cellars, (pronounced ‘inkameep’), located on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve,is part of the development including the Hyatt’s Spirit Ridge Hotel, and the Sonora Dunes Golf Course. Owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band, Nk’Mip was the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America and is ideally located, having been rated a class 1 site according to 1984 Atlas of Suitable Grape Growing Atlas in the Okanagan, and Similkameen Valleys. Justin Hall, a member of the Osoyoos Indian band and current Winemaker arrived in 2004. Nk’Mip Cellars was awarded the 2016 Intervin Winery of the Year and #2 Winery in BC in 2018 from Wine Align. Nk’Mip varieties include: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Rose, and Ice Wine.

The Osoyoos Indian Band leases the majority of their 380 acres in the Okanagan, with 60 acres producing Nk’Mip’s 18,000 cases annually. Distribution extends to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

The second Indigenous winery, Indigenous World Winery, is owned by Robert Louie, former Chief of the Westbank First Nation and his wife Bernice. They are descendants of the original Sylix people of Okanagan. Located in West Kelowna, Indigenous World Winery has produced a number of award-winning wines, most recent, winning one silver and 2 bronze awards at the 2019 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada. Varieties include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Auxerrois, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Merlot, Marechal Foch, Chardonnay, Muscat.

With 5 leased properties and 2.5 acres of estate land, Indigenous World Winery produces just over 10,000 cases annually, primarily for the BC and Alberta markets.

Indigenous tourism is booming in British Columbia, allowing visitors the opportunity to explore indigenous culture and engage with communities they might not otherwise connect with. The Okanagan Region’s beautiful landscapes, rich history, wonderful hospitality, and award-winning wines deliver an outstanding experience for all wine lovers!

For further information:

Nk’Mip Cellars
http://www.nkmipcellars.com/

Indigenous World Winery
https://www.indigenousworldwinery.com/

Okanagan Wine Festivals Society
http://www.TheWineFestivals.com

 

Fall WestJet wine tasting at The Kelowna International Airport (YLW) 

The Fall Okanagan Wine Festival kicks off tomorrow. One of the first signature events is October 5th’s Fall WestJet Wine Tasting at YLW in the Carson Air hangar at Kelowna International Airport.

The event will have the largest capacity of any indoor wine tasting in the Okanagan, at a venue that will be quite memorable.

Details

Location: Carson Air hangar – Kelowna International Airport

Time

7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

List of some of the participating wineries

Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery

Lake Breeze Vineyards

The View Winery

Rollingdale Winery

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery

Little Straw Vineyards

Quails’ Gate

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

Dirty Laundry Vineyard

River Stone Estate Winery

Summerhill Pyramid Winery

Recline Ridge Vineyards and Winery Ltd.

House of Rose Winery

Volcanic Hills Estate Winery

Ancient Hill Estate Winery

Black Hills Estate Winery

Sandhill

Hester Creek Estate Winery

Red Rooster Winery

Okanaganvilla Vineyards and Events Corporation (The Vibrant Vine)

St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery Ltd.

For further details and tickets:

https://www.thewinefestivals.com/events/view_event/1893/9961

 

British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards: October 3 2019

British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards is BC’s most prestigious wine competition.  It is a merger of the province’s two premier judging competitions and is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.  This is a celebration of the best wines from across the Province with Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals awarded, as well as the Lieutenant Governor’s Platinum medals and the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Best Wine in British Columbia.

This year the awards take place on October 3, Laurel Heritage Packinghouse, Kelowna.

“This is the second annual British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards, and it looks like it’s going to be the best one yet,” says Okanagan Wine Festivals Society Judging Chair, Julian Scholefield. “This year we’re honoured to have judges from around the world join us in celebrating excellence in winemaking in our region. As one of our province’s oldest and most prestigious wine competitions, we feel so proud to represent the Okanagan and it’s diverse wine offerings.”

Watch for the list of award-winning wines.

For further details:

https://www.thewinefestivals.com/events/view_event/1859