6 Reasons for The Okanagan Valley Tasting
The Okanagan Valley Tasting
I was lucky enough to have spent a week visiting my brother at his home in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Kelowna happens to be the primary city for The Okanagan Valley. This valley is in the south central part of the province, nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Mountains. This makes its easy to attend the Okanagan Valley Tasting
The Okanagan experiences a mild climate, and it is very dry, where cactus and sage brush are indigenous to the region. The region has been experiencing a shift from fruit orchards to vineyards and wine. The result is a wide range of easily accessible opportunities for wine tasting.
1. Wine Industry Expansion
The wine industry in the Okanagan is booming. Twenty years ago, there were only 31 wineries in the region. Currently there are over 130 wineries.
These wineries fit into about 10,000 acres, which makes it a small competitor on the global stage. In comparison, Australia has single wineries that are larger than all of B.C. wineries combined.
Despite the small size, Okanagan wineries have been successful in securing many international awards. In 2013, these wineries won over 2100 awards.
Some of the wineries in the Okanagan have been identified as having some of the top wines in the world.
Wine makers from all over the world are focusing their interest on the Okanagan region. Some are even choosing to relocate there, to take advantage of its ideal conditions for high end wines.
The superior conditions for growing grapes is genuine. This makes it ideal to host the Okanagan Valley Tasting
2. The Sites
One of the spectacular sites of the Okanagan is Lake Okanagan which is over 135 kilometers long. It is part of the Okanagan Provincial Park. This lake is a result of repeated glaciers carving their way through the mountains.
Several cities border the lake including Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Peachland.
It is a grand sight, and takes over and hour to pass along its side, via automobile.
The surrounding mountains make it a vista that anyone would marvel at.
3. The Climate
The first conclusion that most people jump to is that it must be too cold in the mountains to grow grapes. The Okanagan is an anomaly with regards to latitude. Most wine regions can be identified by where they lie geographically on the earth in relation to latitude.
At this latitude, it is unusual to reach the highs of 30°C, yet this is the norm for this region, for the summer months.
Even grapes that prefer the hotter growing seasons, like Syrah and Viogneier are happy here.
The secret is that being so far north means there are longer summer days, which in turn means more sunshine. The sunshine hours for June to September are 5 a.m. to 9p.m., which accounts for 2 hours more sunshine per day in the peak growing season, than is received in Napa. The result is a compact but effective growing season.
Another key factor, is the difference in the hottest part of the day vs the coolest part of the night. In the Okanagan, this difference is ideal for allowing the grapes to ripen into the fall, preserving the natural acidity of the fruit.
The Okanagan is dry. The coastal mountains, which are to the west, creates a rain shadow that blocks or diverts the majority of the rainy weather system, from the Pacific, from reaching the Okanagan.
This climate plays an important part in which grapes are grown.
The culmination is wines that can compete with the best the world has to offer.
4. Grape Varieties
Few wine regions offer the diversity of grapes that can be found in the Okanagan. Because of the great north south expanse, the climate and soils change greatly as you move down the map. The regions’ growers boast they grow grapes for A to Z. There are over 60 different varieties of grapes grown in B.C.. They certainly grow the traditional varieties such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Gris. But, B.C. is proud to state that they produce the lesser known but equally spectacular varieties.
5. Unusual Winery Names
With so many wineries to choose from, the owners have become very creative in selecting a name for their wine business. They want to offer a name that will appeal to their target audience, which may range from the wine expert to the want to be wine aficionado, yet show uniqueness. The names add flair to the Okanagan valley tasting.
The winery that I chose this time was “8th Generation Vineyard”. Christian Schales began with grapes in 1783 in his village of Dalsheim, Germany. 8 Generations later, his descendants carry on the wine making expertise in The Okanagan Valley. As you walk the path to the entrance, you see carved into the rock, the ascending family members names and dates.
At our tasting the wine that piqued my interest was the Ice Wine Syrah 2010. The reason I chose this ice wine, is mostly because I do not experience them as frequently as other wine varieties. This ice wine was thickly sweet, as to be expected, with a touch of honey mixed with the fruit, and a hint of vanilla.
This ice wine is a stand alone sip, savoured in small amounts. I would not try to pair this with anything. It is meant to enjoyed for its’ strength of presence. It was served to us very cold. The website says to use a tablespoon to glaze scallops before serving.
The person guiding us through the wine tasting, Yolanta, gave us a recipe for a martini using this ice wine, but I would hesitate to waste the Ice Wine Syrah in such a way.
6. Wine Tours
A great way to see a variety of wineries is to take a tour. The advantage of this is that you can access the knowledge and expertise of the local people, rather than hoping random visits will do the trick.
The Distinctly Kelowna Tours video below will walk you through how they work. they offer knowledge, comfort and a designated driver.
If you have any questions or comments, I welcome them below.
The Okanagan Valley Tasting
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