Little River Band many years ago had a song that kept running through my head yesterday as we travelled across the continent to the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, BC. “It’s a long way there, it’s a long way to where I’m going.”
The Cabinator and I left town at noon, driving from Perrysburg, OH, to Windsor to catch the first leg of our flight on West Jet. Once in Windsor we stopped at the Swiss Chalet to try some of their famous chicken and dipping sauce before continuing to the airport. We found the ease of flying in Windsor great. Smooth sailing through security and we didn’t even have to take off our shoes. Unfortunately, Cabinator lost a very nice corkscrew because it had a small knife on it.
I could have used that knife during the flight as the passenger in front of me had a persistent hacking cough, reclined his seat within inches of my face and has never heard of the quaint North American custom of covering your mouth when you cough. The snacks were quirkily Canadian, including microscopic corn chips with flax seed.
After about four hours we landed in Calgary. Off in the distance we could see the city skyline along with the Rockies in the background. We rehydrated at a Molson Brewhouse restaurant for the final leg of our journey. The Calgary airport has some playful displays of aircraft to amuse the children (and wine bloggers).
Thus fortified we got onto our plane to discover we were fifth in line for departure – apparently the equivalent of being stuck on an LA freeway. This cost us a half hour of valuable time, since we were racing the clock to get to the opening reception – which was located at the See Ya Later Ranch, about 20 miles away from the hotel (which was about an hour from our arrival airport of Kelowna).
The scenery was spectacular during the flight as we soared over snowcapped mountains with wisps of clouds. When we neared Kelowna, the snow and rock gave way to lush green hills and sunlight vineyards. We trucked along through the airport and it seemed like a half mile to get to the terminal. Cabinator was suffering as he injured his back early that morning helping Glorious T (on her way to a business trip) load her oversized suitcase.
We quickly hooked up with Dino of Grape Escape wine tours who was providing transportation. Also on the van were Dino Altomare of Banfi and blogger Kovas Palubinskas. As we travelled the the 76 kilometers to Penticton, Dino entertained and educated. It seems there is a bit of a rivalry between Penticton and Kelowna and he was Penticton all the way.
As we travelled south, the scenery became increasingly spectacular with the 76-mile Lake Okanagan being flanked by pine studded mountains. Here and there Dino would provide the inside story on the wineries we passed. Kovas bravely passed on getting pizza so that we would be able to get to the opening reception.
The road to the opening reception featured switchbacks, bumps and curves aplenty and we arrived at the See Ya Later Ranch as most of the festivities were winding down. It was close to 10 when we arrived on the scene and we were looking forward to an hour of wine sampling as we were told the event lasted until 11.
We knew there would be problems right away when we couldn’t find any clean glasses. We entered the tasting room and encountered a rather gruff man with an English accent who informed us we couldn’t use these glasses because they were for the tasting room Once we procured some clean glasses we were essentially given the bum’s rush by the same fellow who told us they were shutting down at 10. Apparently the “See Ya Later Ranch” was named after this guy.
Thankfully we received a couple of very nice glasses of Jackson Triggs Meritage to enjoy with some mini-burgers. We were also able to scrounge some See Ya Later Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed. Another friendly host secured a couple strawberry shortcakes which we enjoyed with some Inniskillin ice wine. This is an awesome location and we wish travel plans would have allowed us to arrive earlier.
Since we were functioning on Eastern time, it was after 1:00 AM to us and we were starting to feel it.
Our first taste of BC was short but sweet with great wine, spectacular scenery and friendly people. We look forward to the first official day.