Nowhere are the vibrant colors and scintillating scents of summer more evident than at the world-class wineries spread throughout the Okanagan. Spring saw the arrival of a variety of new wine releases in this burgeoning wine region, many of which will go on to become international award winners. And 2016 is the summer to THINK PINK!
The overwhelming popularity of the region’s Roses meant that more wineries than ever have invested in their Rose wines. Add that to the ideal growing season in 2015, and the result is a never-before-seen selection of Roses in wineries throughout the Okanagan. Additional new releases reflecting individual wineries’ specialties are now available as well.
Rose wines can be created from a wide range of grapes, and the lovely pink hues come from the color from black-skinned grapes. The pink color can be soft, vibrant, delicate or dark depending upon the length of time – usually brief – the juice is in contact with the skin. Rose wines can be still or sparkling and many wine enthusiasts are surprised by the range of sweetness levels, including a dry Rose through to sweet White Zinfandels and blush wines.
For a superb start to an afternoon of wine touring with friends, visit GRAY MONK ESTATE WINERY in Winfield. One of the original estate wineries in the region, Proprietors Trudy and George Heiss and their three sons deliver some of the best wines in British Columbia.
Gray Monk creates wines that are easy to drink, and this years’ new releases are no exception. Trudy’s favorite summer sipper is their Reflection, whose name was inspired by the reflection of a sailboat in a secluded cove. Gently fortified and delicately balanced, this Orange Muscat offer hints of orange peel and lemon zest. It is a flowery, still wine that is easy to sip on its’ own or paired with Crème Caramel or a fresh summer salad with strawberries.
Gray Monk’s Rose wines have helped build their reputation. Their popular Rotberger (pronounced wrote-burger) is produced from grapes in the vineyards surrounding the winery. The Rotberger dances in the glass with its dark rose petal hue. The penetrating aroma shows spice, raspberry and currant notes, with flavours of spiced cherries and cranberries that linger on a long, lively finish. Another great stand-alone wine, it also works well with pasta, turkey or pork.
Other new releases that promise to pamper your palate include Gray Monks’ 2015 Chardonnay, Ehrenfelser and their signature Pinot Gris.
For a summer’s drive to a breathtaking winery, visit QUAILS’ GATE ESTATE WINERY in Westbank and be sure to take in a meal at the renowned Old Vines Restaurant. Quails’ Gate wines are international award-winners, and the Old Vines Restaurant is just steps from the wine shop. The lakefront view goes on forever, with row after row of plump grapes gently framing the property.
Quails’ Gate winemaker, Nikki Callaway, said their recently-released 2015 Rose is a great representation of an excellent year, referencing the near-perfect growing conditions last year.
“The goal was to make a wine that is dry, of a lighter style, and it is fruity and fresh with hints of fresh watermelon and strawberries. The Rose just screams ‘summer!’ It’s reminiscent of conviviality and summertime and good weather. The Rose is one of our biggest sellers,” she says.
This prolific winemaker grew up in the Middle East, studied in Canada and Europe and has spent her life in the pursuit of her greatest passion, making great wines.
“Women generally have a more refined palate. I learned very early about flavour profiles. For me, every sip is a learning curve, an enticement and sensory overload.”
Nikki recommends the 2015 Chenin Blanc as a must-try, and also suggests Quails’ Gate new Riesling and the Stewart Family Reserve 2014 Pinot Noir for a special treat.
A half hour down the road, visit the charming community of Summerland where you’ll discover SAXON WINERY, a 100 per cent organic jewel nestled at the foot of Giant’s Head Mountain. Proprietor Jayne Graydon and her family chose the name Saxon as a nod to their English heritage. She says the 2015 English Rose, created from Leon Millot grapes, is already a hit. With a taste of juicy strawberry and hints of cranberry and cotton candy, this is the perfect patio wine and also pairs well with turkey, ham, salmon and lobster.
Jane also recommends their Crown Jewel sparkling wine, which has some rather unique components. Made in the Methode Traditionale, it features tantalizing bubbles with hints of raspberry mousse and a long, elegant finish. And don’t miss out on their 2015 Four Play, a distinct red made with the Leon Millot grapes.
Kelowna’s SANDHILL WINES has long been known for their very high quality, reasonably priced wines. Master Winemaker Howard Soon says the 2015 Sandhill Rose is a spectacular vintage.
“The Rose is very pale, and the fruit and body are much better because of it. There is an aroma of fresh strawberries and the taste is smooth and so with a nice medium body, with a long lingering finish. It’s all about the texture. Pink wine goes with pink foods…grilled salmon is perfect,” he said.
Sandhill also has an ideal new hot weather wine, their White Label Viognier. Peachy and Fruity, it’s the perfect sit-around-the-pool-with-your-friends wine. Or, for a fun evening with your pals, drop by Sandhill Winery Friday evenings from 5 to 7 pm for their Happy Hour, with a great vibe and wine served at just $5 per glass. It’s a great opportunity to meet other wine a cionados!
The iconic SUMMERHILL WINERY in Kelowna has a lengthy array of wines ideal for your summer get-together. A great table wine, the 2015 Syrah Rose is light and fresh. The Cipes Rose is a Brut-style sparkling wine made with 100 per cent organic pinot noir grapes made in the Champagne method. The result is a crisp, bright red fruit flavour with an underlying richness. And for something truly unique and delicious, don’t miss the Cipes Ice, a Cuvee finished with a touch of ice wine that places this wine in a category all of its own.
CEO Ezra Cipes said that at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, there are many interesting on site attractions such as their First Contact exhibit including one of the area’s first homes and the Kekuli, a traditional winter home of this area’s First Nations people. And of course, a visit to the pyramid is a must-see.
Another fun and fabulous stop on your winery wish list is THE VIEW WINERY in southeast Kelowna. Proprietor Jennifer Molgat introduced their instant hit, Bling in white, Rose and red wines…in a can.
“Bling came about when we recognized that bubbles were so popular. Women were in love with bubbles but often they didn’t want to open a whole bottle. We had invested in a canning line and we saw a need for single serve sparkling wines,” Jennifer explains.
The View winery produces a number of distinctly different and delicious Roses and bubbly wines. Be sure to try the effervescent Distraction Frizzante, made from Pinotage, Gewurztraminer and Ehrenfelser grapes. This is another perfect patio drink to serve with appetizers or on its own. The Silver Lining Rose is yet another must-have at your summer pool party. A luscious Baco Noir Rose rounded out with a blend of aromatic whites, the Silver Lining offers aromas of strawberry, cherry and pink cotton candy followed by pleasant tart flavours of pink grapefruit and sour cherry.
Be sure to pick up these crowdpleasers directly at the View, because you’ll want to browse the charming, eclectic and ‘that perfect gift’ merchandise at the wine shop.
Studies show that women purchase significantly more wine than men, and Gray Monk’s Trudy Heiss agrees.
“Simply put, the best pairing anywhere is women and wine,” she said.