The winery has been around for years but Desert Hills south of Oliver on the Black Sage Bench is slowly becoming a proper destination, a place to stop and enjoy what wine country is all about. The beautiful patio next to the tasting room will soon be featuring an Indian-style tapas menu from a new kitchen facility. Concerts, barrel cellar long-table dinners, and other big events are also in the works for the near future.

More than that, a new label called Ursa Major will be making its debut at a special event in June. The name is a tribute to an annoying, but persistent bear that frequently leads her cubs to the bottom rows of the Desert Hills vineyard to eat grapes. Perhaps the honor of inspiring a wine’s name will outweigh her taste for grapes and she will find other food sources. Started by Desert Hill’s owner Randy Toor’s son Rajen, the wines are ultra-premium quality and will soon be featured in a new winery located further north on Black Sage Road.

2011 Desert Hills Mirage

Their flagship wine, it offers aromas of plums, licorice, dark chocolate, and tobacco leaf. The palate is full, rich, and ripe with big black fruits, dark chocolate, vanilla, and baking spice flavours. One of the Okanagan’s best Bordeaux-style blends.

2012 Ursa Major Syrah

Huge aromas plums, smoke, nutmeg, pepper, cloves, allspice, dried herbs, and cinnamon. The palate is equally full with plums, smoke, blackberries, plum jam, herbs, and orange rind. For power and complexity, Ursa Major Syrah is quite simply, a wonderful beast.

~ Luke Whittall


Rajen Toor