Jun 112013
 

I returned this week from a visit to Penticton, British Columbia, which was the location of the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference. Penticton is at the heart of the Okanagan Valley Wine country. As noted in an earlier post, I’d never been to this particular area and knew very little about it. But, wow, what an amazing place.

Okanagan Valley Wine: View from Tinhorn Creek

Having grown up outside of Detroit, I’ve had a lot of, um, exposure to Canada and Canadians. Since the drinking age in Canada is 19, Windsor was calling my name long before I could legally imbibe in this silly country. In addition, I’ve recently discovered that the Canadian influence over the dialect of my home town is more profound than I knew, eh. It’s also probably why I like gravy on my fries (which I recently discovered, when you add cheese curds is a traditional dish called a poutine). And the people are the loveliest, most polite, and friendliest bunch you will ever meet.

Okanagan Valley Wine: View from Penticton Lakeside ResortTo be frank, however, I had rather low expectations before the conference. I don’t know, I’d only tried Okanagan Valley wine a few times since the stuff is so damn hard to come by in the States (more on that in a later post). What I had previously sampled was okay, but nothing special. And not knowing anything about the region, I figured it was some backwater that happened to have some vineyards. Boy, was I wrong.

The sheer beauty of the place was enough to make me stand up and take notice. Nestled against a series of very deep, and very blue lakes, Okanagan Valley wine country is the stuff of which postcards are made. The vineyards rest on benches, terraces, and steep slopes at the foot of the mountains that surround the valley. Crystal clear air and water abound. We stayed at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, which was easily the prettiest place that has ever held a Wine Bloggers Conference. In fact, Okanagan Valley is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve been.

Okanagan Valley Wine: First Nation DancerThe history and culture of the Okanagan Valley is quite rich. The valley is the traditional home to the Okanagan First Nations people, an interior Salish people who lived in an area that ranged from the head of Okanagan Lake down into Washington. Various bands still call the area home. They appear to live well together with the non-native Canadians, and there seems to be a mutual respect that has developed. First Nation land includes not only casinos, but vineyards as well.

The winemakers somehow capture this beauty and culture  in their wines. They a stunningly clean and fresh, with just a touch of desert terroir minerality. Regardless of the variety (or varietal), the wines have a pureness that is both compelling and comforting. All but a few of the wines I tried from the area were either solid or rocked my world. There wasn’t a stinker in the bunch.

There is so much to cover, that it isn’t possible for me to cover everything in one post. I’ll be breaking it up into multiple posts for readability and suspense. Stay tuned for more from Okanagan Valley.

  One Response to “Okanagan Valley Wine: Beauty in a Bottle”

  1. We are so glad that you were able to join us and appreciate your kind words for all that we are so proud of here. Please come see us all again soon; one weekend is hardly enough!

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