Written by: Lesley Buxton
When it comes to making great pairings, iconic wine writer Karen MacNeil advises in her opus, The Wine Bible, to always “pair great with great.” This philosophy has definitely been adopted by Robin Ott, president of 97 South Holdings Inc., the company behind the Okanagan’s newest festival.
The festival matches celebrated award-winning songwriters with the ground-breaking wines of the Okanagan and places them in the Penticton and Naramata Bench areas — two settings known for their distinct and inspirational beauty.
The inaugural 97 South Song Sessions Songwriters Festival runs August 1-2, 2019. The first show will take place at Bench 1775 Winery. A founding sponsor, it was recently named one of the top eight wineries in Canada. The August 2 show is at the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre, the venture’s Official Hotel Sponsor. Situated on the southern tip of Lake Okanagan, the resort is known for its beautiful sunsets and deluxe features.
A transplanted Albertan who now lives in Toronto, Robin Ott spent her childhood vacationing in the Okanagan, and has a great affinity for the area. In 2011, she and husband Robert Ott, founder and former CEO of ole — the famed independent music company whose roster of artists includes Rush, Timbaland, and Jordan Davis — bought property on the Naramata Bench.
Now 97 South Song Sessions is bringing a passion for both the Okanagan and the songs together. Ott is confident the valley is primed to become an area of cultural distinction, pointing to the wave of creativity in the wine and food industry as a wonderful example.
“Winemaking and the culinary arts feature prominently in the Okanagan Valley and, like songwriting, are versions of storytelling in their own right. Our goal is to create an entertainment experience that works alongside stories promoting the Valley as a global wine and cultural destination,” she said.