Hillside Cellars Winery and Bistro, the birthplace of fine winemaking in Naramata, continues to represent the best of the Bench.
In 1984 the original Hillside owners, Vera and Bohumir Klokocka, were among the first on the east side of Okanagan Lake to convert their small fruit orchard to grapevines. The current owners, under the leadership of Duncan McGowan, have continued to lead the industry by showcasing superb talent in the vineyard, winery and kitchen.
Winemaker Kathy Malone, now celebrating her fifth year at Hillside, feels privileged to be at the venerable winery.
“In my career I’ve been able to work with grapes from all up and down the Valley. Since coming to Hillside in 2008 I’ve learned just how unique and special our fruit is. Our location and soil produces both ripe fruit and silky tannins — a perfect balance that is the best of all possible worlds for a winemaker. I’m very lucky to work here.”
The Old Vines Gamay Noir shows how Malone brings her artistry even to varietals of less renown. The grapes, harvested from 29-year-old vines directly above the visitors’ parking lot, are among the oldest in the Okanagan Valley. Burgundian in character, this soft, fruit-forward palate pleaser goes beautifully with salmon or roast turkey.
This spring visitors will again have a rare opportunity to sample the fragrant spiciness of Hillside’s signature Muscat Ottonel, as well as the 2012 releases of the winery’s Gewürztraminer and Rosé. But act fast, as the low production Muscat always sells out within a few months of release.
The Bistro, supervised by award-winning Executive Chef Rob Cordonier, reopens at the end of March. Rob has fine-tuned his seasonal, locally inspired menu to complement Hillside’s eclectic wine list.
During the Spring Wine Festival, the Ocean Wise© certified Bistro will again roll out its “Eat ‘em to Beat ‘em” menu. Always fun, these plates feature delicious but invasive seafood species as a way of helping to sustain our regional fisheries.
One visitor summed up the Hillside experience by saying, “Amazing food, amazing staff, amazing view. Oh and amazing wine.”
What more could you wish for?
~ Barry Potyondi