The day started with a great light breakfast and a quick look at the weather forecast. It looked like south was the direction of the day as there appeared to be a threat of some thunderstorms in our immediate area. So off we went.
As we drove the decision was also made to continue right down to Osoyoos and work our way back. In theory, at least, that seemed reasonable. However as the vineyards flew past one after another after another, they became a constant reminder of the astounding increase in wineries in the area. In 2003 there were 83 in the Okanagan Valley – by 2013 there were 214. Grape acreage went from 5,000 acres to 10,000 acres. Apparently there is no hope of us doing real justice to all the possibilities.
We don’t give up easily. 🙂
Although we thought we would start in the extreme south end and simply work back, we did find ourselves wandering off the path a little along the way. After all, the day was hot (especially the more south we drove). By the time we actually got to Osoyoos, we had our first full case of the day.
Not wishing to accidently find ourselves entering the U.S. border crossing with no way out, we turned around just outside of town and started the return journey. Again, the choices seemed all but endless. We had an inkling of this problem prior to starting out so one other decision was helping. We thought it would be prudent to pick some must-have favorites (of which there is no shortage ), and also seek out a few new potentials. During the rest of our investigative day, that worked out quite well.
The south of B.C. is still the place to find the better red wines in the valley, due definitely to the climate. And it is showing in ever-increasing volume and varietals. Having said that, the whites are certainly holding their own (but they are still stronger in the north).
As much as so many of the new wineries are showing promise with the definitive standards (Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, etc., etc.), many of wineries have stepped outside the beaten path. A new varietal is making a very strong presence and one that John Q. Public would be wise to take more notice of. It is…the Blend. (yeah…ok…technically not a ‘varietal’…sue me. 🙂 )
Many of the wine makers in the area are striving to make something that is truly indicative of their house…a signature wine (or wines). Becoming very innovative in their blends and creative in their names has now resulted in some remarkable new choices. ‘Desert Sun’, ‘Trebbiano’ ‘Integrity’ ‘Stemwinder’ are but a very few. If you find yourself in the valley, grab your must-haves for sure, but definitely seek out the blends. You may find your must-have list needs to be expanded.
Our return north took somewhat longer as it was not nearly as direct. The time of year, however, worked to our benefit as there were very few (and sometimes no) other visitors at any of the wineries we visited. Several stops and two more full cases later and we were back in Summerland. BTW…we did run into the thunderstorms despite our best efforts. They were vigorous and the downpours bordering on torrential. But…thankfully they were also very brief.