Charles and I were LONG overdue for an escape with just the two of us (sorry kids), and jumped at the opportunity to sneak away for a night to explore our back yard in BC Wine Country to experience the Best of BC Wine Country 2018!
We dropped our sweet babies off at my parent’s house and south we went. It’s incredible how we take what we have in our own area for granted. I was fortunate to partner with the BC Wine Institute earlier this year to check out some of the contenders for the Best of BC Wine Country 2018 with my girlfriends, and had the BEST time! Check out the post here for our full itinerary and some fun summery pics!
Intuitively, BC wine country is stunning to visit in the summer, but not many people know how accessible and absolutely breathtaking it is to visit in the fall and into the winter and holiday season. The vineyards turn the most magnificent shades of yellow and orange, the air is crisp, and the lineups are non-existent. You do need to call ahead to make reservations at many wineries, but most of them are open at this time of year and welcome visitors with open arms! It really is a unique, more personalized experience that I highly recommend checking out.
Our day started bright and early in the spectacular Similkameen Valley, a short 1.5 hour drive from Kelowna. The region is known for its organic farming practices (it’s considered to be the organic growing capital of Canada). Due to the tall surrounding mountains, and the reflectivity of the rock, heat remains in the valley long after the sun sets, helping create ideal growing conditions for growing grapes. Our first stop was at Corcelettes Winery where we met the super charming owners Charlie and Jesce Baessler who’s love and enthusiasm for wine was absolutely contagious! Charles and I learned so much from Charlie who has roots in wine making that stem back to his family farm in Switzerland. We sampled a number of incredible wines here and took home the Merlot, Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend called Menhir. Corcelettes cleaned house and was the winner of the following Best of BC Wine Country categories for the Similkameen Valley region:
- Best tasting room
- Best view
- Best Sparkling – Sante
- Best red – Pinot Noir (tied with Clos du Soleil Signature Red)
- Best white – Gewurtraminer
- Best Rose – Oracle rose
- Best winery events – table de famille
We moved on to Clos du Soleil, only steps away from Corcelettes, to meet with Michael, the winemaker and managing director. We had such a perfect time chatting about wine, learning about the region. Their tagline is ‘old world elegance with a new world edge’, and it is so fitting. With a philosophy borrowed from Bordeaux coupled with minimal-interventionist winemaking and biodynamic viticulture, they produce classic complex wines that are first-rate. We started with the Capella (incredible white blend of Sauvignon blanc and Semillon, totally worthy of aging) and finished with the mind-blowing Saturn, a late harvest wine that is perfectly sweet and well-balanced, and in the middle toured the facility (wine in hand of course), to learn about the wine-making process first-hand. Their Signature Red won Best Red wine in the Similkameen Valley (tied with Corcelettes’ Pinot Noir) and is a must try if you have the chance!
Trucking onwards we hit the road with growling bellies and headed to have lunch at the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, the winner of the Best Accommodation and contender for the Best Restaurant. Charles brought me to Burrowing Owl for my birthday in October a couple years ago, and it was amazing! We stayed in their guest suites and had such an awesome experience. This time was no different. We dined on perfectly seared scallops, mind-blowing butternut squash soup, a charcuterie board and the steelhead trout. With a glass of wine of course (I love their Cabernet Franc but you can’t go wrong with any of their wines). All were absolutely outstanding! If you do go to the winery be sure to take the time to climb the bell tower for a panoramic view, it’s worth the hike!
Our final destination of the day was Hester Creek Estate Winery, where we were also staying for the night. Wow, is all I can say. Hester Creek Estate Winery has a lot to offer, including wine and food pairings, culinary classes, tours of the vineyard and first-class accommodations. We sipped a bit of wine, learned about the unique position of the winery and how this impacts the growing conditions for the grapes (they have some of the oldest vines in the region), toured the cooking school area (so awesome by the way, what a great idea for a couple’s retreat or a fun weekend with the girls!). We settled into our ADORABLE Italian-inspired villa, had a big bubble bath and did nothing but chill and talk for a few hours. It was such a gift. As much as I missed my babies, having that time to re-charge and have an uninterrupted conversation with Charles was pure gold.
We walked through the vineyard to have dinner at the charming Tuscan-style restaurant Terrafina where we shared a few yummy casual dishes like wood-fire oven baked pizza (try the potato and truffle pizza) and crispy eggplant with polenta fries. We called it an early evening (haha, of course) with plans to have an epic sleep-in. Of course we were up at 5am…ugh! With time to kill we had the most relaxing chill morning. A few hours later (at a more sane time of day lol) a stunning breakfast tray filled with buttery croissants, individual frittatas, fresh juice, fruit and steaming cups of coffee was delivered to our door so we could enjoy it on the patio (check out the pictures of the view above). It was so beautiful, truly one of the best views I’ve seen in my life. I didn’t want the breakfast to end, but we had one more stop on our list.
We packed our bags and headed to Black Hills Estate Winery for our last wine tasting. This winery is famous for a wine called Nota Bene, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a one trick pony my friends. They produce some spectacular wines including the Syrah and Viognier that stole my heart. They don’t mess around with their wine tasting either, it’s really something to carve time out for on your next visit. Speaking of, this is the first time that they are open all-year round, no appointment needed!
It’s amazing how a 24 hour getaway can completely fill your tank! Would love to hear about your favourite wineries below. It’s such an honour to share a snippet of this world with you, the wineries and the hard-working teams behind them truly define our Okanagan culture and I’m so proud to call this place home.
Thank you to the BC Wine Institute for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.