Monthly Articles

It’s Fall Y’All!!!

 

If the above images give you shivers of joy, then you are officially not my people. Fall leaves are pretty and all, but my theory is that if you absolutely love the change of colour and falling of leaves, then you have not had to rake acres and acres of them for 30+ years. And pumpkin spice latte is not coffee. Enough said.

I have a love hate relationship with Fall because I absolutely LOVE summer. I love heat, beaches, summer cocktails and wearing my dresses too short – which, at my age, you can only get away with when you can literally fry an egg on the sidewalk. Fall means an end to all of my summer loves and the beginning of school, frost at night, and ripping out all of my beautiful summer flowers. In short, it means work. BUT, it also means that it’s cool enough to be drinking specialty coffees such as Spanish Coffee and other beauties that you can find the recipes for in Fall for Our Special Coffee Recipes.  It also means that it’s time to stock up at the last few Farmer’s Markets of the season and get busy making pickles, hot sauce, and finding new ways to use the apples off your 15 apple trees (thanks, grandma). My grandparents lived through war, a depressed economy as well as a new and often rocky life as new immigrants. If you didn’t have the foresight to look after your food needs, a winter of eating cabbage and turnips was a very real threat. Since we now have my grandma’s old house, as well as her fruit trees, I see the need for a bigger freezer in my very near future.

Fall is a great time to tour your local corn maze as well as participate in our other Top 10 Fall Activities.

Best of all, fall means boots, fleece lined leggings, the return of dark make-up and no pink clothes in stores! Every good Dolly knows that you need to go through your closet seasonally to make room for new, or new to you, clothes.  Enter the Clothing Swap Party. Invite friends and random people with awesome style who look like they may be your size – I’m not kidding, although I’m not responsible if you invite a klepto or a mass murderer into your home. Everyone brings a bag of clothes, accessories, shoes and they get dumped organized in the bedroom. All guests pull a number and take turns going to pick one item. When you reach the end, you go backwards through the line up again, so if you had 13 lucky people, the 13th person gets first pick of the second run through. Afterwards, you take the leftovers to goodwill.

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As we all know, every party needs some food and drinks, even if it’s a simple one with no real theme. If we ever had anyone over and they didn’t have the opportunity to leave drunk (with a designated ride) and a distended stomach from overeating, then we haven’t done our job – part of the reason why leggings have become my new pants.

In keeping with fall harvest, our spread involved a charcuterie tray and Moscow Mules. Simple and delicious! – R. Dolly

charcuterie

 

 

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Monthly Articles

Haunted Corn Maze

 

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I’m the horror loving Dolly. I love scary movies, scary tv shows, scary collectibles, scary books, scary video games, scary art, scary fashion. As I was typing that, this is what it sounded like inside my head:

If you’ve never been to a well done haunted corn maze, you’re missing out on chills, thrills and dolla bills. Okay, not the last one, but I was on a roll. Our local haunted corn maze, located at the Australian Ranch, can only be described as fright-filled amazingness. If you’re a sensitive soul like my husband and my oldest, then you should probably stick to the still enjoyable daytime corn maze (available until mid-October) or the mildly haunted daytime maze (with free tractor rides and farmyard animal visits.)

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Whichever way you experience it, it’s a great fall activity for one or for a group. I recommend going with a group because then you have someone you know to sacrifice to The Corn Gods by pushing them behind you so you can escape the “freaks” popping out of the corn. Apparently, it’s frowned upon to grab a stranger or stranger’s small child and use them as a freak shield. Who knew? I had to start using my own children, husband, sister, nephews or anyone else in my group. You just have to be faster, smarter or more limber than one other person to survive. I feel like “surviving” a haunted corn maze with my wiley wiles has better prepared me for a zombie apocalypse.

The Cariboo Corn Maze takes place on the Australian Ranch near Quesnel, BC. The Very Haunted Night-Time Maze has evolved into a full evening of entertainment with the haunted corn maze, haunted house, bonfire, hot chocolate and a concession stand to get the kids even more sugared up. Which isn’t a good thing for a shield because sugar just makes them run faster and that forces me to out-sugar the shields in my group to survive. It’s a vicious circle.

The creepiness starts as soon as you turn off the highway. You drive down a dark, winding, steep, tree-lined hill and finally out of nowhere the maze appears, glowing with the bonfire’s flickering light. Once you’ve paid and parked, you can head for the maze or the haunted house. The maze is cut differently each year and has different creepers in it. The only constant has been that chainsaw wielding motherfucker, Leatherface.

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The maze is huge and you have to watch where you step because corn husks and stalks are slippery so your attention is divided to start with. That’s how they get you. They have the Leatherface-ish guy moving through the cornfield randomly starting his chainsaw. There have been creepy little Children of the Corn kids just standing there holding hands staring at you. The first year they were there, I thought they were lost and waiting for someone. I looked behind us and nobody was there. Then I saw their clothes and the blank looks on their face and grabbed my shield. Freaky looking people (some just normally freaky looking and some dressed like Ghostface) move silently through the maze and will just quietly move out of the corn and start walking beside and just a little behind you so that it takes a minute for you to notice them. I’ve been used as a shield once by my sister when Ghostface slipped up beside us. She noticed him first, grabbed me, pushed me behind her and ran. Let me tell you, it’s not fun being the shield so be prepared and watch who you position yourself beside.

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After the first run through of the maze, we make our way through a forest and over an old leaf-covered wooden bridge to the decrepit and uninhabited farmhouse that they’ve turned into the haunted house. This three story house is different each year and I’m pretty sure it takes a full year of planning and decorating to get it set up. Yes, there’s creepers that jump out at you inside and outside so don’t forget your shields.

There are chairs set up around the bonfire to warm up or just sit and visit. Hot chocolate and a concession with food and other beverages is also set up.

Admission 2017:

The Non-Haunted Corn Maze (Admission $2 for ages 2 and older.) “Lenore invites you to wander the farmyard to visit the pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, mini ponies and llamas.  You may also catch a glimpse of two feral goats and a few belties (cattle that look like oreo cookies!).  You are also welcome to snack on the apples–they are organic.” Available from about mid-August until mid-October – Dawn until dusk

The Mildly Haunted Day-time Corn Maze and Haunted House Event (Admission $5.00):  
“The daytime events are pretty tame in comparison to the night-time event.  You may encounter a couple friendly ghosts and goblins around the Haunted House and in the Corn Maze.  Admission includes: tractor rides, access to the haunted house, access to the corn maze, and farmyard animal visits.  There will also be a concession available.”
Sunday, October 1 (11am – 3pm)
Sunday, October 8 (11am – 3pm)
 

The Very Haunted Night-time Corn Maze and Haunted House Event (Admission $7.00):
“The nighttime events can be pretty intense.  It is not for the faint of heart.    Your admission includes access to the Haunted House and the Corn Maze.  Depending on Mother Nature we may or may not be allowed to have bonfires.  There will be  wonderful concession available as well.”

Friday, September 29      (7pm – 9:30pm)
Saturday, September 30 (7pm – 9:30pm)
Friday, October 6             (7pm – 9:30pm)
Saturday, October 7        (7pm – 9:30pm)
Sunday, October 8          (7pm – 9:30pm)

“Very important message:  The “No Drop-off Rule” still applies!  This is a family event first and foremost!  Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.  Unsupervised kids will be turned away at the gate.  We are not running a daycare or hosting a bush party!  Groups of unsupervised pre-teen and teenagers have lead to some unmanageable situations for the hosts, the visitors and the scarers in past years.  Absolutely no exceptions!  Thanks for helping us keep this a family friendly event.” 

~C. Dolly~

 

 

 

Monthly Articles

Kelowna Wine Tour 2017

Let’s start off with a little history about the 2016 drunkfest…I mean, the 2016 highly-sophisticated, high-class Naramata wine tour. This was the first wine tour experience for my husband and I. We had so much fucking fun that this is now an annual “thing” for us. My cousin and her friends invited us to join them for their yearly Okanagan wine tour and plans were made. We arrived Friday afternoon, went on a self-led walking wine/distillery tour and the drinking began. Saturday morning arrived and it was beautiful, sunny and absurdly hot. My cousin’s boyfriend purchased a box of wine at the first winery and when we got back on the tour van he asked if we wanted to play a little game called Slap the Bag. It sounded dirty so we were in! He took the bag of wine out of the box and held the spout above his mouth and kept the spout open until someone slapped the bag. That slapper then took the bag and this continued until it was empty. It was almost like musical chairs for adults. After visiting the third vineyard and stopping for lunch, which included enjoying more bottles of chilled wine at Therapy Vineyards, the driver was helping us out of the van. Liability-wise it was probably a smart move on his part because when we arrived back at the hotel to lay down for a couple of hours before meeting for dinner, the room was actually spinning. Plans of a quickie before dinner changed because being puked on just before the Big-O would’ve halted that shit Mid-O and nobody’s going to be smiling after that. Unless that’s a fetish of yours then I totally recommend going for it.

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This year we chose the Canada 150 Wine Tour offered through Distinctly Kelowna Tours. They offer winery tours, agri-tours, culinary tours and adventure tours. If you’ve never been on a wine tour, it’s fantabuous! They pick you up in a van at your hotel. No need for a designated driver so EVERYONE can get white girl wasted. The tasting fees are included and they safely store your bottles (or cases) of wine until you return to your hotel. Berne was our tour guide and he was awesome! In some cases, he was more knowledgeable than the tasting guides. He’s highly recommended by The Dollies.

The Canada 150 wine tour is offered until October 2017 and includes wineries, an art gallery and lunch at the Red Fox Club.

Our wine weekend began a day earlier than everyone else. R.Dolly purchased tickets for Paint Nite at Summerhill Winery in Kelowna, BC. Not just for her and I, but also for our husbands. I loved, loved, loved it. My husband wasn’t excited because he’s never painted and he probably won’t admit it, but he had fun and was smiling a lot. I told him if he painted the canvas he could paint on me later. Summerhill Winery was beautiful, classy and well set up. The view was gorgeous. I purchased a bottle of their Syrah Malbec Rose.

 

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The next day we shopped until everyone else arrived and then got ready for the walking wine/distillery tour. We went to BC Growers, Sandhill (where my husband purchased two bottles of icewine and I picked up their viognier. We moved on to Red Bird Brewing Inc. where we started drinking at the bar. R. Dolly and her husband broke off to pick up some items on our list from Urban Distilleries. We had an amazing dinner at The Train Station.

Saturday morning we were picked up at 9:30 am. We were so giddy and had waited for a whole damn year and it was about to begin! Our monthly articles describe the locations we toured and each Dollies impression of said locations: Off The Grid Winery, New Moon Gallery, Indigenous World Winery and Red Fox Club, Grizzli Winery and Quails’ Gate Estate Winery.

The only disappointment we encountered was that none of the wineries sold wine in a box. Sadly, that meant that Slap the Bag was out and, because of that, I was able to determine that the whole ‘needing help out of the bus thing’ from last year was in fact due to the bag of wine. I was still pretty fucking drunk, but I totally rocked the steps on the bus this year. I’m a big girl now! The whole day was fun and filled with laughter, wine, dinner at JOEY Restaurants Kelowna and then headed back to the hotel. 

Sunday morning, before we drove home, we went to The Jammery, which was also featured on The Food Network show You Gotta Eat Here. My husband and I once again had the same thing we ordered last year. The Breakfast Paella and the Big, Big, Big Breakfast. I loved the gift shop and it’s the only time I’ve ever been excited about a 45 minute wait for a table. It seriously takes that long to look through all the cool shit plus the food is completely worth the wait!

Check out our Top 10 Tips for a Successful Wine Tour if you’re thinking of getting all wined up for a weekend and don’t forget to play Slap the Bag.

You know how you are so excited for something and then it’s over quicker than you thought possible? That was our wine tour weekend and we loved all of it. 

Recipes:

Crispy Mashed Potatoes

 

 

 

 

Monthly Articles

Off the Grid Organic Winery

 

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“Off the Grid Winery takes pride not only in their history, but in their future. The winery owners are from a long line of farmers who have lived and worked their land for over a hundred years. As BC’s first “off the grid” winery, they have an exclusive experience to offer. From solar panels to their straw-bale wine shop, they are organically minimizing their footprint with each bottle of delicious wine.”

Like many wineries in the Okanagan, Off the Grid Winery was originally a fruit orchard. They decided to move in a more environmentally friendly direction and get away from the use of pesticides and herbicides. The first vines were planted in 2007. Sheep graze on the weeds in the vineyard to eliminate the use of herbicides and the wine shop was built using straw bale construction with the sloped half of the roof covered with solar panels and the flat half of the roof green space with a ramp to allow the goats to roam the rooftop and enjoy their dinner with a view. 

The grapes were sold to other local organic wine makers until 2012 when they decided to make their own wine and the first vintage was released in 2015.

It truly is a family run business. Two Paynter brothers, their wives and many family members all help run different aspects of the business. They have a beautiful wedding venue, photography, yoga in the winery, a picnic area and various events.

~C. Dolly~

 

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C. Dolly – I have to say that Off The Grid’s website doesn’t do their winery justice. It was set up more like a little farm with the weeding sheep, the Thanksgiving turkey hanging out with his friends, rabbits, pigs, and chickens all occupying large pens that were visible as we approached the winery tasting area. It was very unique and as we pulled into the driveway, Berne notified us that we were going to be the last tour of the season as they were sold out of most of their wines. A positive consequence of the wildfires was that, because of lower tourism numbers this year, some restaurants had just returned unsold wines they’d purchased.  This allowed my husband and I to purchase two bottles of our favorite wine that we had the pleasure of tasting. Yoga with goats would’ve been so much fun if I were coordinated enough not to land on my face or land on a pair of super hairy goat balls. Seriously, everyone in our group was infatuated and surprised by the goat’s balls. We purchased 2 bottles of their Gewurztraminer.

R. Dolly – I had the least expectations for this winery due to the website which I found confusing and lacking in information. Maybe because of this, I was pleasantly surprised. The staff and owners were down to earth and extremely knowledgeable about their wines. Since they are a small winery, they were sold out of quite a few of their wines and would be closing their tasting room in a few days. My husband and I enjoyed the goats on the roof and the relaxed vibe. We purchased a bottle of the 2016 riesling-gewürztraminer. As you’ll notice, we tend to only purchase white – not because we’re wine nazis, but because my feet swell up like a pregnant lady in July when I drink anything but.

Monthly Articles

Indigenous World Winery

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Robert Louie and his wife Bernice are Okanagan Syilx descendants. Louie was Chief for the Westbank First Nation Council from 1986 through 1996 and from 2002 through 2016. Robert and Bernice are passionate about Indigenous culture, history and lands while creating high quality wines. Indigenous World Winery opened it’s doors May 29, 2016. According to Robert Louie’s Linkedin profile, expansion plans are already in process for a craft distillery, microbrewery, native culture centre, amphitheatre, boutique shops and recreational orientated ventures.

Jason Parkes is the winemaker for ‘Indigenous World Winery’ as well as ‘The Hatch’ and the ‘Terrabella Group’. He has won over a hundred local and international awards for his wines including a double gold in California for premium Bordeaux blend. Jason Parkes also operates his own custom crush company, and when he isn’t busy crafting award winning wines, he spends his time making music. He is an accomplished artist who has written songs for Disney and television and in 2003 Parkes won CBC’s Galaxie Rising Star award for Canada’s independent song of the year. He is currently the frontman for Properman (check it out – it’s pretty good). He has been described as uncompromising when it comes to the creation of both his music and his wines.

2017 Awards for Indigenous World Winery include:

San Francisco Internation Wine Competition

  • 2016 Red Fox Pinot Noir Rosé (Gold)
  • 2016 Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin White Blend (Silver)
  • 2016 Estate Muscat (Bronze)

National Wine Awards of Canada

  • 2016 Red Fox Pinot Noir Rosé (Gold)
  • 2016 Viognier (Bronze)
  • 2016 Estate Muscat (Bronze)

The Red Fox Club Restaurant is located onsite and has an indigenous inspired menu created by chef de cuisine Andrea Callan. Prior to coming to The Red Fox Club, Callan worked at Quails Gate Estate Winery, Old Vines Restaurant and BNA Brewery to name a few. The menu is constantly evolving with fresh, locally sourced ingredients while maintaining respect for Aboriginal history. All in all, I would have to say that all the players have been put in place to create a winning combination. – R.Dolly

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R.Dolly – This was the winery that I was most excited to visit, and I was not disappointed with the experience. Lunch was included with our tour and consisted of a fried bannock base and your choice of salmon, tenderloin or a vegetarian option with ricotta and tomatoes. I happen to LOVE bannock. I love baked bannock, fried bannock, bannock with butter, bannock with strawberry jam, bannock with mashed potatoes smeared on top and dripping with gravy….. So I was easy to please with this one. I loved my lunch.

Our tasting was also fantastic, not necessarily because of the wine, but because of the knowledgeable and genuinely happy to be there staff. Their excitement in the product shows and was contagious enough to make me buy a bottle that we didn’t get to taste. A rosé that someone at our table ordered with their lunch. I was pretty much wined out by that time and took everyone’s word that it was good. Instead, I sipped my rye and water to cleanse my palate for the next stop.

To sum it up, the view was gorgeous, the property immaculate, food was fantabulous, and bonus of all bonuses, if you happen to fancy a rousing game of paintball before continuing on your way, there is a course right next door. 

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C. Dolly – I was really excited to visit this winery. The website and menu were appealing and it was the one restaurant that I would’ve chosen for lunch. Thankfully, it was the lunch stop on our tour. The little paintball village that we passed going down the driveway was really cool. The pure white tipi, the building and the view were all gorgeous.

We were seated and the presentation began. The woman was happy, excited and fun. Her vibe transferred to everyone at the table. Once the tasting finished, we ordered more wine and lunch. 

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Bannock topped with tenderloin, tomatoes, peppers, blue cheese and spices served with a salad was my choice for lunch. It was so delicious and I can’t wait to try to make this at home for the girls. Oh, and we ordered a bottle of the Ehrenfelser to accompany our lunch because it was my favorite during the tasting. The wine, food and overall experience were wonderful. We purchased a bottle of the Ehrenfelser and a bottle of the Red Fox Rose. 

Monthly Articles

Grizzli

21390281_762053150646001_2039400211_oGrizzli Winery in Kelowna, B.C. is located on Boucherie Mountain in West Kelowna B.C. Boucherie Mountain is a remnant of a former stratovolcano created nearly 60 million years ago and the mineral content of the soil contributes to the production of quality growing conditions for Kelowna’s wine industry. Boucherie Mountain is not only home to one of Kelowna’s newest wineries, but also to the aptly named, Mt. Boucherie Winery, Volcanic Hills Winery, Mission Hills, Quail’s Gate, and The Hatch to name a few. Grizzli is a relatively newcomer to the scene, having opened its doors in August 2016.

Grizzli was built by John Chang and his wife Alison Lu, a Taiwanese born couple who emigrated to Canada in 1995. The Changs own Grizzli Winery, Lulu Island Winery (formerly Blossom Winery) in Richmond, as well as their most recent purchase, Niagara on the Lake Vineyard in Ontario.  Although they produce a variety of reds and whites, it is the ice wine where John Chang excels. Chang first learned winemaking from his Grandma and proceeded to perfect his skills when he emigrated to Canada.

The thirty million dollar,  60,000 square foot building is comprised of 4 large tasting rooms with audio visual presentations available in about 4 different languages. Grizzli caters to the Asian tourist industry and their retail area offers a variety of Canadian ‘staples’ such as maple syrup and salmon products.  The parking lot can accommodate numerous tour buses and coaches and the tasting counters will easily cater to a  busload. The Okanagan vineyard alone reportedly accounts for 50% of all of British Columbia’s ice wine production and the Changs export a large quantity of it, as well as their wine from Lulu Island Winery, to China. Now, here is where things get a little crazy…

On March 26, 2016, several raids took place in Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Xiamen. Eighteen individuals were arrested, with four being charged following an investigation into ice wine import data anomalies. Two of those charged were John Chang and his wife, Alison Lu.  Chang had allegedly been under-valuing his bottles of wine. Customs officials said “a certain brand of icewine in Canada” was declared with an average cost of only 10 yuan ($1.96), when they generally sell for $50 to $100.  The wineries are currently being run by their daughter, Amy Chang, who states that the case should serve as a warning for other Canadians hoping to do business in China. – R.Dolly

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R.Dolly – This one reminded me of walking into an empty museum. It was way too large for the amount of people there, which was fine by me since I don’t like crowds, but it felt off because you can tell that is exactly what it was made for – large crowds. We were herded in and lined up against one of the long counters in the last tasting room. The audio visual presentation was cued up in English by the attendants behind the counter and they dutifully poured our wine.  Out of all of the wineries that we visited, this is the one where I felt like the staff didn’t know very much about the winery or the wine that they poured other than what was printed on the bottle. The few tastings that I walked past sounded exactly the same as the one we had, although I doubt the clientele at the other counters were as uncouth to ask, “so, how long do you think your boss will be in jail for? Do any of you write to him?” Not my question, let me assure you.

As a group, we were not fond of any of the regular reds or whites, but didn’t mind the one ice wine they had selected for us to try. My husband wanted to buy a red ice wine, so we asked and they let us try them all. They were quite nice and we bought one bottle of Cabernet Franc and the Gewurztraminer.

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C. Dolly – Grizzli Winery was clearly set up to accommodate bus loads of people as it was the only winery we’ve seen that had angle parking for 4 large buses. Before we disembarked, Berne explained to us that the winery was currently for sale. He said the owner, who had been arrested for smuggling while visiting suppliers in China, was wealthy before he built Grizzli. After getting off the bus, we realized how majestic the building was. The logs, stone, and materials used were top quality. Walking in the doors, the high ceilings and sparse shelving made it appear cavernous. We approached the counter for our tasting and were asked to wait for a presentation to be loaded in English on a screen above the counter. Although more impersonal than other wineries we’d visited, it was informative and explained the process of making ice wine. Quite a few of our tour mates purchased multiple bottles of the Meritage. We weren’t impressed with the wines and asked to try the ice wines. They let us taste all five of the ice wines. My husband was a huge fan of the ice wine and our bank account was not. We ended up purchasing two bottles of ice wine – the Merlot and Gewurztraminer.

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Monthly Articles

Quails’ Gate Winery

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“Located on the estate of one of the oldest homes in Kelowna, the Quails’ Gate Estate Winery is known for its prized Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Dine in the winery’s superb restaurant overlooking the valley below or come for a tasting to see why the wines are held in such high esteem. Don’t miss the adjoining estate, where some of the area’s earliest settlers lived.”

The Allison House, built in 1873, was the first house built in the West Kelowna area. It has been declared a heritage site after being beautifully restored and is a great place to learn about the early pioneering days in the Okanagan.

The winery’s Old Vines Restaurant is one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada. It’s known for the “creativity and quality of food coming out of the kitchen.” The menu is based on the concept of fresh simplicity and is achieved by using only the best local/regional ingredients.

Last year, Quails Gate Estate Winery produced 90,000 cases of wine. For 20 years they have produced Optima, which is a late harvest wine with a rich, sweet, concentrated flavor.

~C. Dolly

 

C. Dolly – I wasn’t sure what to expect from Quail’s Gate after researching for the blog. The restaurant reviews on various travel review sites were polar opposites. People either loved it or they had a problem with the rudeness and pretentiousness of the servers. Looking at the menu, there really wasn’t anything that looked appetizing to me, so I was happy that it wasn’t our lunch stop.

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery is a prestigious winery with a gorgeous tasting area and an incredible view of Okanagan Lake. The woman who welcomed us to the winery at the outdoor waiting area made a comment about “that other winery down the road” whilst having her nose up in the air. I’m not a pretentious person and I wondered if the winery needed to hide behind that pretentiousness. 

Our tour guide then notified us that our group was going to receive the V.I.P tasting experience. While the peasants were tasting inside the gorgeous tasting room and gift shop, we were led to the balcony with an amazing view of the lake.

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There wasn’t really a wine in the tasting that caught my attention but we did purchase a bottle of their Optima because the process in which they make it was intriguing and everyone in the group highly recommended it. The guide leading our wine tasting experience had a strong French accent. I spent most of the tasting trying to figure out if it was real or if he was trying to up the prestigiousness of the winery by faking it. Seriously, I totally would’ve if I had that job. I’d be French and distinguished at work and then go home and return to my normal cursing Canadian ways.

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We walked through the vineyard, tasting grapes off the vine and learning about the year long grape growing process, until we got to a flat grassy area overlooking the lake. We took awhile to appreciate the view and relax and learn about how the Optima wine is made. With their substantial vineyard, the view and wines that have won many awards, the pretentious attitude we encountered while being greeted was completely unnecessary. It was the most informative and interactive tour of a winery that we’ve been on and Quails’ Gate Estate Winery can 100% stand on it’s own merit.

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R. Dolly – I think I enjoyed the scenery more than the actual tasting. Quail’s Gate is by no means new to the winery scene with over 60 years experience and three generations involved in making it into the company that it is today. The location and views are spectacular and I enjoyed our time here. This was mainly due to our fantastic tour guide, Berne. He was so knowlegeable about all the vineyards we visited and could answer a plethora of viticulture questions. We learned about the life of a grape vine, the grafting process, pruning practices, how the smoky year we were having was effecting the ripening of the grapes, and the making of Optima wine. The optima grapes are planted close to the lake to actually encourage Botrytis Cinerea, or Noble Rot. When any gardener hears the word botrytis, they immediately think of grey mould, which would be a disaster, but Noble Rot occurs when dry conditions follow wet and humid ones. Instead of the grape mush that would have to be thrown out with grey mould, noble rot removes water from the grape leaving behind a sweet, concentrated flavour.

We purchased one bottle of this wine without even tasting it as other members of our group had tried it the year before and said they liked it better than ice wine. That, and because I found it fascinating that botrytis would be encouraged and could actually be beneficial in the correct circumstances.

I was quite happy to have a guide at this particular winery because I felt that without one, I would have found the experience a little intimidating rather than welcoming. I did think the menu looked great as it had a variety of exotic sounding food, and I would love to try it the next time we’re in the area. And, my favourite part about the restaurant is that right on their website, they post that “in order to provide the best experience possible for all guests, we are unable to accommodate stags or stagettes.” Since we had already come across way too many girls in tiaras during the last few days, I was more than inclined to agree.