Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Undiscovered Country

Okanagan Wines

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I was heading to the Okanagan Valley to take in some wineries there and then I promptly went quiet for awhile. Well sorry about that, but between the travel and getting back to a busy project, I’m only now starting to get back to things wine related.

In some ways, I took in so much that it’s just been a daunting thought to sit down at the keyboard and try to relate it. So rather than do that, there’s a fair chance I might just make notes about it in a more piecemeal fashion. I’ll start with this.

I was in the Okanagan Valley for parts of 4 days. On each, I took in a few different wineries. The rest of the time was a bit of biking and hiking. Would have liked to do more of both of those other activities, but I’ll have to save that for another visit. I made Kelowna a base, but on another go-round, I’d probably look a bit south first to Penticton, though Kelowna was a nice place and the B&B I stayed in was one of the best I’ve stayed in for some time. (Abbott on the Lake)

In general, I’ll have to start by saying that the area is truly a very beautiful place. Judging by the traffic I encountered in the area, a lot of other people are thinking the same thing.  In some subsequent posts, perhaps I’ll make a few more pictures available. At the bottom of this post is an example of both the rugged country and how big the vineyards are in the area. The picture below was taken off the deck of the Burrowing Owl winery near Oliver.

When I first arrived, I came the faster way, via Vancouver and the major tollway. These lead me directly into Kelowna. Most of the wineries are actually south of there, but there are a few of them were around Kelowna.

There’s plenty I could recount about each, but for now, I’ll simply comment briefly on those in the picture above. There wasn’t much I found I disliked, so it would have been nice to bring home a lot more, but in the end, I took only what I figured I could get into my carry on baggage. And at 6 bottles, that was a bit of a stretch.

Hard to pick a favorite, but I consistently enjoyed the wines I had at La Frenz. The price/performance ratio for their wines was good as well. I picked their “2003 Montage”, a blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cab Sauv as one I would take home from them. (The dark green label in the picture.)

La Frenz is on the “Narramata Bench”, perched next to the Okanagan Lake. The link to the left has some good pictures of the area as well.

Of the other wines in the picture above from the Narramata area, I also snagged the 2003 White Meritage from Township 7 winery. They weren’t actually tasting it because of popularity and limited quantity, but the woman doing the tasting raved about it so this was the one wine of the group that I bought based on recommendation alone. So, we’ll see.

Also from the Narramata area (and with the funky label on the far right) I liked the Blasted Church Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 and the Therapy 2003 Merlot. Therapy was a very new winery. In fact, the paint on the place was barely dry and still smelled fresh. The name is largely a marketing gimmick – as in “Eveyone could use a little Therapy once in awhile.”

Two other wines from the picture above are from the Stag’s Hollow winery in the Okanagan Falls area and the Silver Sage winery in Oliver. The 2003 Renaissance Merlot was the one I opt’ed for from Stag’s Hollow. They have two lines of wines, the “Simply” line and the “Renaissance” wines – that are ‘truly special’. Well, I enjoyed it anyway.

The one from Silver Sage that I picked up is primarily just a novelty wine. It’s called the “The Flame” and while you can’t see it from the above picture, the wine comes with a red pepper inside the bottle. It’s HOT! as in spicy hot. The wine has a bit of sweetness as well, but mostly it’s very hot. Here in the southwest, this wine will go over pretty well. I’m surprised I have seen this sort of thing before. Definitely have this one at the end of any tasting. It’ll kill whatever’s in your mouth.

There were so many others I visited, and I’m sure I’ll revisit these again as I pop them open one of these days, so stay tuned.

Okanagan Wines

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At 8:25 PM, Blogger Bradley Cooper, Winemaker said...

Good to see you had a fine time in my 'hood. Hope you enjoy the wines; you've got some good ones there.


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