Summer wine festival spans Okanagan Valley

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      What a difference a decade makes. Over the past 10 years, the Okanagan has seen a surge in the number of wineries and the popularity of wine festivals taking place each season. To celebrate, Okanagan Wine Festivals is turning its former weekend summer wine festival at Silver Star Mountain Resort into a 10-day, valleywide occasion from July 8 to 17.

      “It runs with events taking place up and down the valley, with signature events taking place in Kelowna, Osoyoos, Penticton, and major communities,” Christina Ferreira, coordinator of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “We’ll have larger consumer tastings in each of those major communities, which we’ve not done before.”

      Although the number of festival events has been scaled down, there is no shortage of indulgent tasting experiences. The festival’s first signature event is Pop Goes the Cork, on July 9 at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts, which features more than 30 Okanagan wineries, B.C. cheeses, and live entertainment. “It’s sort of an indoor-outdoor tasting,” Ferreira said. “We’ll have tents set up on the lawn, and you’ll kind of move in and out of the building.”

      Another first for the festival is the Granfondo Wine Tasting in Penticton, which takes place on July 10 and coincides with the first 160-kilometre bike ride through the region. “We’ve never had a Granfondo in the Okanagan, but this year we have two,” Ferreira said. “We created a partnership with the [Valley First Granfondo] Axel Merckx group, and we are essentially the after party of the Granfondo, but it’s also open to the public, so it’s sort of a great big wine party.”

      For those looking to experience something a little different, the July 17 Valley First Polson Pouring in Vernon consists of an afternoon winetasting featuring more than 20 wineries, with bread- and cheese-sampling, at Polson Park. “We’re bringing in different kinds of entertainment, and we are getting spoken-word artists for that one,” Ferreira said.

      Between events, tourists are encouraged to explore the abundance of wineries in the area. “You can pick up a wine map at a visitor information centre,” Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association spokesperson Gary Aldus said by phone. “There are 150 wineries in the valley, and it’s likely [that] wherever there are accommodations, there’s going to be four or five wineries close by.”

      Aldus also recommended that visitors looking for some quiet R&R time reserve their trips for weekdays, as tours and accommodations fill up quickly on weekends over the summer.



      Michelle da Silva

      May 26, 2011 at 10:22am

      Thanks, Drew!

      ex-Haney guy

      May 29, 2011 at 10:54pm

      This is so cool-it's as good as Napa; closer and even has rattlers.
      Check out Tangled Vine -Gewí¼rztraminer, and Lake Breeze-Merlot and Elephant Island for their black current fruit wine-delicious, dry.
      Township7-cabernet savignon merlot.