On Sunday, July 7th, 2013 approximately 2700 cycling enthusiasts and racers will take to the roads in the South Okanagan to complete a race that is fast becoming a must do on any cyclist's bucket list. Weaving through beautiful lakeside vistas and lush orchards and vineyards the Valley First Granfondo is now in its third year and is drawing participants from all over North America.
If you are not participating cheer on the riders from any of the magnificant vantage points along the route. Here is a video clip of the section of road near Blue Mountain that the Granfondo riders will cruise along before stopping for lunch at Le Vieux Pin.
Cyclists leaving the starting point near Okanagan Lake heading towards Skaha Lake.
Here is the full route including some information on road closures for those of you still wanting to get out and tour some local wineries.
This long weekend, whether you’re heading up to the lake or hanging out in town, you’re going to need wine. The weather forecast points to right about average for July, so bring on the patio lounging and barbecues.
With the char-grilled flavour effect and often spicy or zesty sauces, a good rule of thumb for BBQ wine is not to go too delicate. An often overlooked wine, Okanagan Gamay Noir is the quintessential BBQ wine, not too heavy but still packed with buckets of lush fruit and just the right balance of smoke and spice. Whether you are grilling some artisan burgers or your family’s secret recipe ribs, Gamay is sure to be a hit on a hot summer day. Enjoy your Gamay chilled when the thermometer starts rising.
For your whites at the barbecue, Oaked Chardonnay is a solid match for grilled chicken or in season halibut right off the grill and Sauvignon Blanc is great with rich sable fish or a local artisan cheese board. You can never have too much Pinot Gris for when friends stop by. Marry the Gris with some oysters on the half shell or prawns on the BBQ and you will really win some points with family and friends.
For salads or lighter fair a crisp and refreshing Pinot Blanc hits the spot.
Our country is 146 years old this year and that is something to celebrate. Have some BC Sparkling on hand for when the fireworks get going or to kick start your party. After all sparkling goes with everything…even the red and white!
Happy Canada Day everyone!
Congratulations to all of the 2013 Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines. Here are the Okanagan Falls Winery Association wines that won:
Stag's Hollow Winery
Cachet No. 03 Limited Edition 2010
Storm Haven Vineyard Riesling 2011
Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery
Mystic River Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2012
This year was the largest competition in the 11-year history of the awards, with 402 wines submitted from 109 wineries across the province. For a full list of the 2013 winners, check out the website.
Back for it's second year the Okanagan Falls Winery Association's Party in the Park kicks off summer on Friday July 12th, 2013. The event runs from 5pm till 9pm at Kenyon Park and tickets are going to go fast.
Get your beach party groove on with the great sounds of The Gal Avanters.
Meet the elusive winemakers and owners of the 12 OK Falls Winery Association wineries and enjoy the excellent southern BBQ prepared by The Chef Instead. Dinner and dancing with a live band at Kenyon Park seems like an awesome way to kick start an Okanagan summer! Tickets are $50 and are available at
So tell your friends, to come celebrate summer and the wine of Okanagan Falls on the beach, along with the personalities that make up the OK Falls Winery Association. Summer never felt so good.
Penticton is located in the centre of an amazing agricultural area. From May through October some of the best fruit, produce, and grapes in the country can be found here. This has of course led to a burgeoning culinary scene set against the perfect backdrop and paired with some delicious Okanagan wines.
Here are a few of our picks for places to eat in Penticton:
Lunch / Dinner
- The Cobblestone Restaurant and Wine Bar at Naramata Heritage Inn
- The Patio at Lake Breeze Winery
- Hillside Estate Winery Bistro
- Vanilla Pod at Poplar Grove Winery
- The Kitchen at Misconduct Winery
- The Hooded Merganser at Penticton Lakeside Resort
- Theo's Greek Restaurant
Of course there are many other great restaurants throughout the Okanagan Valley.
If you have any other suggestions, or if there is somewhere that you've particularly enjoyed, please feel free to comment below!
In the spirit of the 2013 Wine Blogger's Conference being held in
Penticton this weekend, we thought it appropriate to create a series
of blog posts highlighting some of our favourite things to do here in
Whether you're joining us locally from the Okanagan, or from abroad in
Canada and the US we welcome all of our cyber wine friends to this
amazing part of the world.
We hope you'll enjoy a sunny weekend here along with some fantastic
wine and great people. Should you require any information while you're
here, or would just like to stop by for a glass of bubbly please
contact us in the tasting room and we'll be happy to assist you.
If you're just tuning in and wondering what's happening for the
conference, or would like to attend, you can find full details at the
Wine Blogger's Conference website.
From vineyard rookies to those connoisseurs who need a new angle on the Okanagan wine scene, try a Heli-Wine Tour. This is a one of a kind experience tailor-made by you which combines scenic helicopter flights around the Okanagan with stops at your choice of several participating wineries to enjoy the beverage that has made the valley so well-known. Valhalla Helicopters has agreements to land at approximately 30 vineyards around the Okangan, Shuswap and Similkameen.
A full day Heli-Wine tour is a 6 hour experience - starting at 10am and ending at 4pm - where you select about 4 wineries to visit. There are over 30 participating wineries from the Shuswap in the North to the US border in the South.
You may choose to go north with winery options in Kelowna, Lake Country and Salmon Arm, or select a southern route with vineyard choices in Lake Country, Kelowna, Summerland, Naramata, Penticton, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Cawston and Keremeos.The helicopter can seat up to 4 people (weight restrictions apply), but some wineries are only accessible with one couple onboard.
Most wineries have picnic spots and several have restaurants or will do a special catered lunch if you'd like to add that on.
With a full champagne flute, you can get about 5.5 glasses per bottle, but you can double that by serving half flutes. You can estimate 1-2 glasses at the welcoming reception in the first hour, 1 glass per toast and then 1-2 more every hour.
How to calculate how much wine you will need:
|#of guests||#of glasses/ guest||total glasses||5.5 glasses/bottle||#of bottles needed|
|25||25 x 2.5||62.5||63/5.5 = 11.45||12|
|50||50 x 2.5||125||125/5.5= 22.72||24|
|75||75 x 2.5||188||188/5.5= 34.18||36|
|100||100 x 2.5||250||250/5.5= 45.45||48|
Always allow a little extra in case of breakage or unexpected toasts. If you do have a bottle or two left over you can always save it to celebrate your first anniversary together or another celebratory occasion.
by Catherine Dale, Queens University
As you drive along Allendale Road towards Blue Mountain, you may notice small wooden boxes on many of the fence posts. These boxes have been set up to provide nesting sites for our local bluebirds – and Blue Mountain has over 100 of them scattered throughout the vineyard! These nest boxes are home to the two species of bluebird found in British Columbia: Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana), which are royal blue with a rusty breast, and Mountain Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides), which are a brighter blue with a light blue breast.
Western Blue Bird Mountain Blue Bird
During the spring and summer, it is common to see these beautiful birds perched on top of the boxes, or popping in and out of them with material to build their nests or food for their nestlings. Both Mountain and Western Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters – meaning that they nest within holes in trees, but they are unable to create their own their own holes, and depend on those created and abandoned by other species (such as woodpeckers).
During the early and mid 20th century, landscape changes – largely caused by humans – resulted in a decrease in the number of cavities available for bluebirds. Partly due to the limited availability of nesting sites, bluebird populations began to decline. In response, concerned citizens set up trails of nest boxes like the one you see here. Today, most bluebird populations are stable – and here in the Okanagan, the Western Bluebird population appears to be growing.
Many of the vineyards in the Okanagan have put up at least a few bluebird boxes (although most don’t have as many as Blue Mountain!). Vineyards are excellent spots for these boxes because of the bluebirds’ diet and foraging strategies. During the summer months, they feed almost exclusively on insects – making them a useful tenant in vineyards. To catch their food, they perch where they can see the ground clearly and look for their prey. If you spend some time watching one of the bluebirds at Blue Mountain, you will notice that it spends much of its time perched on a vine or a fence post, dropping down occasionally to the ground to catch an insect. Unlike many other birds, bluebirds are also quite tolerant of human activity around their nests.
Although not all of Blue Mountain’s many bluebird boxes are occupied in any given summer, the vineyard is home to a large breeding population of Western Bluebirds and a smaller breeding population of Mountain Bluebirds. During the summer of 2012, over 25 Western Bluebird pairs nested in the vineyard, producing more than 150 eggs in total and fledging over 75 nestlings successfully. Two pairs of Mountain Bluebirds also chose to nest at Blue Mountain. Each pair had two successful nests over the course of the summer, and together they produced 12 fledglings.
Besides the bluebirds, several other native species can be found nesting in bluebird boxes. At Blue Mountain, the boxes are often home to Tree Swallows and House Wrens. Other possible inhabitants include Black-capped and Mountain Chickadees and Red-Breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches.
So as you pass through the vineyard on your way to the tasting room, make sure to keep your eyes open to catch a glimpse of some of Blue Mountain’s smallest inhabitants!
Note: For the past few years we have been fortunate to have graduate students from Queens University who study our bluebird populations, monitor the nest boxes throughout the season, recording important data such as nesting periods, numbers and dates of eggs, hatchlings and fledglings. Catherine Dale is a Queens University student. She is pleased to report that the bluebird numbers are rebounding and although still at risk are certainly seeing improvements over a few years ago when their studies first started. Thanks to the students at Queens University who have studied the bluebirds at Blue Mountain.
For more information on bluebirds in the southern interior http://www.bcbluebirds.org/SIBTS/Welcome.html
It's that time again, when tasting rooms open their doors to welcome visitors to the valley and an abundance of festivals occupy every weekend.
Coming up in early May is the 19th annual Spring Okanagan Wine Festival. There are a myriad of events to attend and no shortage of options on dates, times and locations.
Deciding which to attend can be the toughest challenge but decide you should because many of these events sell out quickly and you don't want to miss out.
One new event this year is the Valley First Blind Wine and Cheese Soiree on May 11th at the Ramada Inn and Conference Centre Penticton. This involves items being served blind. Not guests being blindfolded. Wines are served with covered labels and cheeses are displayed without descriptions. Try your hand at guessing the type of wine or cheese. Tickets are available at selectyourtickets.com
Blue Mountain Vineyards is pleased to once again be a participating winery at Bacchanalia at the Penticton Lakeside Resort on May 4th starting at 7pm. Tickets will sell out quickly and are available from the Penticton Lakeside. www.pentictonlakesiderresort.com 250-493-8221