At Red Rooster Winery, they want their visitors to feel welcome. They’ve worked hard to create an atmosphere where both new wine lovers and aficionados will feel comfortable from the moment they arrive.

To start, there’s the spectacular views of Okanagan Lake and the mountains — some of the best in the neighbourhood. Then there’s fanciful sculptures throughout the garden. One can’t help but fall in love with local metal artist Lawrence Cormier’s whimsical mermaid with her long strands of flowing hair.

Inside the tasting room, there’s a lot to admire as well. There’s fun, farm-house-inspired art and knickknacks as well as the winery’s fabulous T-shirts which feature some very regal roosters. The highlight is the long inviting bar, just perfect for leaning against and enjoying a tasting.

At Red Rooster, they offer a special incentive to those who visit — the opportunity to taste select wines from their exclusive Rare Bird Series that can only be found at the winery. This includes wines such as the Rare Bird Malbec 2015, a delicious, medium-bodied wine. Think blueberry, clove, blackberry and just enough oak to draw one in. It’s luscious with flavours of red currant, blackberry and blueberry. The lasting finish is of black tea, currant and spice.

Burke Ganton, Red Rooster’s VIP and Key Accounts Representative, calls this a truly Canadian wine because “it’s so unafraid to be itself.” He describes “the spicy warm flavour as the exact opposite of a Canadian winter.” Still, it pairs beautifully with what Canadians love to eat. For a barbecue — it’s a meat lover’s dream. It’s the kind of wine that can handle a big burger smothered in blue cheese and bacon, or a piece of freshly baked tourtière. It accompanies game meats, like moose, beautifully. Vegetarians do not despair! Just think fusion cuisine, aged cheeses like Gouda or smoky barbecue tofu. 

This is a limited production wine as the winery only created 215 cases. It was grown on the estate and tended by Red Rooster’s Adopt a Row members. This program allows wine lovers the opportunity to buy a row at the vineyard and learn from the ground up what it takes to grow grapes. Members join the estate in pruning in the spring and picking in the fall. For their work, they are rewarded with a mixed case of wine that includes the Malbec they helped to produce. The sought-after wine is not their only prize. The program also includes two exclusive, fun-filled weekends of food and wine. The membership fee is $325 plus tax. This popular program is filled at present.

For those not interested in getting their hands dirty but who want to be pampered, there’s the exclusive Red Rooster Wine Club. The winery recently renovated three rooms upstairs — The Roost, The Cockpit and The Coup — to enhance the wine tasting experience for their members. Each room is distinct. The Roost is decorated with photographs of heritage roosters, a fake cow skin rug and cool 1960s inspired chairs and cork wallpaper.

The Cockpit, in contrast, feels more intimate. The feature wall is covered in reclaimed barn board and there’s a long table surrounded by benches with red cushions. The walls are covered in recycled pallet shelves designed by Katherine MacKenzie, the estate’s manager. The metal light fixtures are vintage inspired. It’s the kind of place one can imagine enjoying a tasting with friends.

The Roost is painted a deep blue-grey and is decorated with frames displaying bottles of wine. Fruit crates serve as shelves and there’s a fabulous one-of-a-kind sink created out of a wine barrel. It’s funky industrial meets farmhouse cosy.

The wine club is presently going through some exciting changes, but one thing that wine members can always be assured of is access to the winery’s exclusive and limited vintages. This includes Karen’s Golden Egg — an innovative passion project created by the winemaker Karen Gillis with the help of local growers, to create an iconic Rhone-style red — and the Reserve Pinot Noir, with its pure fruit flavours of red berry, red currant, cherry and crab apple.

Come taste these delicious wines for yourself. You’ll be so comfortable you’ll never want to leave. After all, it’s rare these days to find a place like this where one feels so at ease and so completely charmed.

Lesley Buxton