(pictured: The Fiume family: Roberto, Olivia, Sharon & Antonio with Bella, the winery dog.)
A great bottle of wine can whisk you away to another locale, and when matched with the right setting can make you feel as if you’ve traveled the world without ever leaving home. Such is the case with Ciao Bella Winery, feeling like an idyllic Neapolitan vineyard overlooking Okanagan Lake nestled in the peaceful and serene hills of the West Kelowna Farm Loop. A young artisanal winery, born of the Fiume family’s hard work and reflecting their Italian heritage.
Owners Roberto and Sharon along with kids Antonio and Olivia first began to cultivate their vineyard back in 2000. With the help of renowned viticulturalist Dr. Alan Marks and celebrated winemaker Jim Faulkner, the Fiume’s have had their hard work rewarded through their recognition last year as the home of BC’s Best Pinot Noir.
All of the wines are crafted in the traditional Italian-style, and the family greet guests in a similar manner, usually with a warm and welcoming Benvenuto! But Ciao Bella isn’t thematic, it’s authentic. An important distinction to make. Here, everyone who wanders through the doors is welcomed as part of the famiglia. Images of Nonna (Grandma) and Nonno (Grandpa) adorn the bottles and yes, conversation is known to occasionally drift in and out of Italian. Cappuccinos are on hand for drivers and the garden-dotted picnicking grounds provide weary travellers with shady tables to relax at with bottles of wine and spuntini (charcuterie) boards of Italian meats and cheeses. One would be advised to consult the website ahead of time to catch live Italian music, especially Remi the nonagenarian accordionist beloved by regulars for his moving renditions of traditional Italian folk music.
As the setting sun casts its last light on the surrounding back hills and you notice the faint call of a rooster in the distance, you could be forgiven for momentarily thinking you were in rural Naples. But fortunately from here you won’t need a flight nor a passport to return home.
2016 Pinot Grigio $18.95
Made in the traditional Italian-style, this exquisite summer white is off-dry and fruit forward with crisp hints of green apple and apricots. The nose offers citric notes and the finish is surprisingly rich and buttery.
2015 Pinot Rosé $19.95
Fun, refreshing and fruit forward, this delightful wine awakens the palate with bursts of strawberries and rhubarb underscored by hints of succulent watermelon and wild cherry.
2014 Pinot Nero $24.95
Ruby-red in colour, this celebrated wine begins with an aroma of strawberries followed on the palate with deep notes of black cherry and chocolate, and a soft pepper finish. Paired best with your favorite Parmigiano dish or with good friends on the patio.