Keremeos in British Columbia’s fertile Similakameen Valley is bathed in sun and heat for 181 frost-free days resulting in the best tomatoes in the world and a price that will blow your socks off. Top down to take advantage of the sun on the first day of fall, The Handyman and I head out from Naramata past Almost a Ranch, Foggy Mountain Ranch, Cedar Creek Ranch and the infamous Crazy Zach’s junk/antique on the way to the “Fruit Stand Capital of Canada” on our annual pilgrimage to bring home some summer to store for greyer days ahead. I always feel…

Concentrated appleness and soul-soothing aromatic cinnamon, cloves and vanilla bean…What is this sorcery? Apple butter and my new mission to make the lost art of making it found.   Apple butter thickly laid over a heavy slice of bread warm from the oven is a pioneer staple that deserves a revival in the orchard-rich Okanagan Valley. Apple butter is a highly concentrated form of apple sauce produced by long, slow cooking of apples to a point where the sugar in the apples caramelize turning the apple butter a deep brown. Originating in the Middle Ages at monasteries with apple orchards, the…

redroosterreisling

Red Rooster winery is like a great piece of art, at every turn one is surprised and delighted. To celebrate their success, they’ve created new labels to showcase their distinguished wines. The new look features handsome illustrations of heritage roosters and different coloured caps for the classic and reserve vintages. The winery’s location is stunning, situated on the Naramata hills, the views from the Pecking Room Patio, which is open until the end of the Fall Festival, are the best I’ve seen. Natural beauty isn’t the only feature of this location; the garden is filled with whimsical sculptures by metal…

Moraine

This past June, the All Canadian Wine Championships gave a serious nod to Naramata Bench’s Moraine Estate Winery; their Gewürztraminer 2015 achieved Double Gold (making it the best Gewürz in the competition) while their Riesling 2015 and Red Mountain 2013 achieved Silver. This past July, Wine Align’s 2016 National Wine Awards followed suit by awarding Silver to five of Moraine’s wines: Cliffhanger Red 2014, Malbec 2014, Pinot Noir 2014, Syrah 2014 and Pink Mountain Rosé 2015. These accolades will come as no surprise to wine aficionados, as Moraine is no stranger to awards. The Riesling 2015 is one of Moraine’s flagship wines, winning Gold at International Fingers Lake Wine Competition 2016 and the Okanagan Life Best of BC Wine Awards…

Therapy

Therapy Vineyards is known for its fun labels, popular Farmacy wine shop and selfie-worthy views. It will be soon be known for – quelle horreur – breaking some wine conventions by mixing up a harvest celebration cocktail. Therapy is producing serious, award-winning, single vineyard, single variety wines that are garnering lots of attention. Terroir-driven these well-priced, small-lot varietals continue to gather a strong, loyal following. This unpretentious Naramata winery doesn’t take itself so seriously that it can’t craft a wickedly delicious cocktail with its Fizzio Therapy though. Harvest of Therapy’s mature vines is all about the hard work that goes…

UpperBench

Wine and cheese go together like sun and shine and Upper Bench Winery & Creamery is as wonderful as warm blue sky fall days with its stellar offerings crafted on site, a gorgeous tasting room and a stunning patio with vineyard views. This fall’s new releases include a pair of 2013 reds with grapes that basked in one of the Naramata Bench’s hottest summers of the decade and finished in one of the coolest falls on record resulting in fine tannins and well balanced, concentrated flavours. The 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Estate Merlot grapes were hand-tended, fermented in…

BCWINEINFO

The “Don’t judge a book by its cover” idiom has never been more true than when you visit the temporary location of the Penticton Wine Information Centre in front of the South Okanagan Event Centre. While adorned by bright logos, it’s essentially a no-frills structure so stepping through those doors to see how the team transformed the inside into an inviting BC VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wine and accompanying products hub is a delightful surprise. Roughly the same size as the former site, it beautifully displays over 800 wines and the products you’ve come to expect. An even broader selection…

TheBench

Some say there’s no specific recipe a restaurant can follow to make people happy. You just know it when you see it, and we sure see it at The Bench Market, an award winning, go-to breakfast, coffee and lunch spot for locals and visitors. Behind that indefinable something that sets them apart, there is, however, a very well thought out strategy that makes The Bench Market a success. Owners Heather and Stewart Glynes agree that while local, in-season food and drinks are important, the formula consists of more. It also includes local farmers providing tasty ingredients; strong partnerships with local…

Kraze legz

Kraze Legz Winery in historic Kaleden is difficult to find, but that’s to be expected from a winery that draws its inspirations from the speakeasies of the prohibition era. Indeed when I arrived at the winery’s iron gate, with its signature keyhole, I felt as if I should have been driving Jay Gatsby’s gorgeous Rolls Royce. A feeling that only increased when I spotted the grate on the door of the tasting room and entered a room that felt as though it belonged to another time. Though names of the wines are a tribute to the dance crazes of the…

Stags-Hollow

Winemaker Dwight Sick clearly enjoys his job. With exciting new grape varieties like Dolcetto from their Shuttleworth Creek vineyard now coming into full production, he has a lot to be excited about. The Dolcetto grape heralds from Piedmont in northwestern Italy. On paper, it would seem to be eminently suitable for growing in BC: it ripens early, is low in acid, is very aromatic, and has a deep purple colour. It is quick and easy to produce, requires no lengthy maturing in oak barrels, and is perfectly ready for drinking within the first year. Traditional “New World” wine wisdom has…