A Day of Orchards and Vineyards
With Penticton, British Columbia as home base we explored a small portion of the Okanagan Valley today. Acres upon acres of fruit trees and tidy rows of grape vines stretch across the landscape. Large red and golden apples await pickers and wine grapes swell with juice. Such a great location for a relaxed day of wandering back roads, tastings and photos – even if there were clouds and afternoon showers.
Our day started at The Bench, a charming little artisan cafe and market a short walking distance from our lodging. A steady stream of locals stopped for morning coffee and conversation. We ordered “Eggers” (much like an egg McMuffin – only better) with a Dijon Mayo spread. Bob selected one with smoked salmon and capers, I chose bacon. We shared a raspberry-nectarine scone made with fresh fruit. Yum, good start to the day.
We headed north along the west side of Okanagan Lake making a stop at the local farmers market in Summerland to purchase fresh pears and plums for an afternoon snack with cheese and crackers.
A helpful lady at the local visitor center steered us to Summerland Sweets and Sleeping Giant Winery a few miles outside of town. All over Western Canada gift shops and stores sell the jams, syrups and jellies (candies) made here at Summerland Sweets. A first for us was the syrup tasting station. With more than 20 syrups to choose from being able to taste before selection is a real bonus. I liked the Maplapple, Bob’s favorite was the Black Currant, we both agreed the pear was outstanding. Since this is a road trip we’re taking home quite a selection.
The adjacent Sleeping Giant winery produces fruit wines, everything but grapes. From the long list we select five to try. Many are sweeter than normal table wines but some like the pear are dry and crisp. Peach is one of their top sellers and certainly gives off the distinctive peachy aroma. I note that a number of customers come in to purchase, knowing exactly what they’re after, obviously very familiar with the selection. To cap our tasting we try the seasonal pumpkin wine with the spicy flavors of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. Our Thanksgiving guests will be greeted with mulled pumpkin wine this year.
There are so many wineries in the region it’s hard to know which ones to select. On our first visit to the valley I chose by the more interesting names – Blasted Church, Black Widow, Laughing Stock, Therapy, Forbidden Fruit. How can one not wonder about a winery named Dirty Laundry? I remember taking home their Gewürztraminer. They’ve added a new tasting room and patio since our last visit. After tasting three different Gewuztraminers I select two for purchase. One of the wines won a North American award this year but at this point in the tastings I don’t remember the details. Tasters also hear the local legion of the Dirty Laundry name.
We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting a farm stand and driving up the east side of the lake to the village of Naramata. I don’t think one can go a mile without a sign directing you to a winery, artist studio or an artisan cheese maker. I need a week to explore this section of the Okanagan.