Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 Wine Bloggers Conference: A Visit To BC’s Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country

After being cooped up in the hotel for the largest part of our first full day at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, British Columbia, we were happy to hit the road on a mystery bus tour to one of BC’s nearby wine regions. As we started rolling, we learned that our Rustic Wine Adventure would take us to Oliver Osoyoos wine country.

Oliver is known as the wine capital of Canada and has the highest concentration of wineries and vineyards anywhere in the nation. Osoyoos has  a desert-like climate and sits just north of the US border. The Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association has 29 member wineries and some mighty fine scenery.

The region is at the bottom of the long, narrow, north-south Okanagan Valley. The climate and grapes grown vary with as you move south along the valley. The Oliver Osoyoos region begins south of McIntyre Bluff – a stark stone cliff – and is bordered by majestic mountain ranges, rivers and lakes.

After exiting the bus, we worked our way through the arid fields toward the winery in the distance. We were able to quench our thirst at various “outposts” along the way where wine was being served. We had one guide in front of us with a snake-capture stick who was on the look-out for rattlers and another who provided insight into the local history, flora and fauna.

We arrived at one of the premier wineries in the Okanagan, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards where a full-blown reception welcomed us. Top wines sampled included Stoneboat Vineyards 2010 Pinotage (in Canada?), Church & State Wines 2012 Coyote Bowl Series Viognier, Rustico Farm & Cellars Bonanza Old Vine Zinfandel  and Tin Horn Creek Cabernet Franc.

We entered into Tinhorn Creek’s world-class Miradoro Restaurant for our dinner with more vino. The view from the mountainside perch is fabulous. We were able to see a snow topped peaks while the sun heated up the valley below and a deer munched on vegetation.

The dinner was a seafood paella. Paella is considered Spain’s national dish. The food was on-par with the first class Tinhorn Creek operation.

After a dinner of great fun and fellowship, we then motored off to Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa for a rooftop reception sponsored by the Oliver & Osoyoos wine region. Great wines were poured from wineries such as Burrowing Owl, Church & State, Hester Creek and Nk’Mip Cellars. Nk’Mip (pronounced in-ka-meep) is owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band.

Sense of place is strong in Oliver-Osoyoos. The dry, burning sun, wild sage, steep mountain slopes and the footprints of the First Nations all give the area a wild and rugged beauty. It translates well into the Merlot, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon and other wines produced here.

Oliver-Osoyoos is a land unlike any other, sure to delight with dramatic scenery, wine and sun.
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