Okanagan wine country meets Whistler mountains in new winemakers' dinner series

Oliver Osyoos Wine Country coproduces Savour the Sun at Nita Lake Lodge

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      Being so close to Whistler and the Okanagan, Vancouver is hard to beat when it comes to weekend getaways.

      A new winemakers' dinner series is combining the best of both worlds, bringing wine country to the Coast Mountain range. 

      Savour the Sun at Nita Lake Lodge is an intimate long-table dining event run in partnership with Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country. It takes place monthly on Sunday evenings on the serene lakeside patio at the Whistler Creekside boutique hotel’s Aura Restaurant.

      A winemaker or wine principal attends every dinner, sharing stories behind the wines that are paired with each of the seasonal four courses designed by the lodge’s executive chef, James Olberg.

      Culmina Family Estate Winery's Sara Triggs, whose last name you may recognize if you've had a sip of wine in the last 25 years or so, hosted the long-table dinner series's inaugural event.
      Gail Johnson.

      Kicking off the 2019 series was Culmina Family Estates Winery, represented by Sara Triggs—yes, that Triggs.

      Her father, Don Triggs, is one half of the industry-leading winery Jackson-Triggs.

      Instead of retiring when the winery was acquired by a US company called Constellation Brands, Don, who grew up on a Manitoba farm, went on to form Culmina with his wife, Elaine, in 2006. Sara came onboard in 2012 after completing a Masters in wine business at the University of Adelaide and working at various wineries and tasting rooms in Australia and Canada.

      Triggs chose Culmina’s Decora 2017 as the welcome wine for the balmy May 26 dinner, the Riesling belying notions that this type of grape means sweetness in a bottle. Harvested on October 13, 16, and 17 that year (that’s the kind of detail you glean when a winery principal is on hand!), it’s dry, juicy, and refreshing.

      B.C. Kuterra salmon tuna poké was paired with Culmina's Saignée 2017.
      Gail Johnson.

      The menu featured BC Kuterra salmon poké (with seaweed salad, macadamia nuts, avocado and pickled ginger) paired with Culmina’s Saignée 2017. This type of wine takes its name from the French word for “to bleed”, the rich rose full of sage and strawberry flavours.

      Olberg’s velvety roasted-cauliflower soup with buttered breadcrumbs came with the 2016 Dilemma, a minerally Chardonnay. Finally, Culmina’s chocolatey 2014 Merlot was served with garlic-and-rosemary-roasted lamb shoulder, with merlot jus, dates, marcona almonds, whipped potatoes, and sautéed carrots and snap peas.

      Savour the Sun at Nita Lake Lodge continues through to the fall, giving diners the chance to learn more about Oliver Osoyoos wine region. Situated at the southern tip of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley in one of the country’s warmest places, it’s home to more than 40 wineries and the Golden Mile Bench, Canada’s first official sub-appellation.

      Nita Lake Lodge senior sous chef Josh Kelly greeted diners on behalf of executive chef James Olberg at Savour the Sun's inaugural 2019 winemaker's dinner.
      Gail Johnson.

      On June 23, Joe Luckhurst, general manager of Road 13 Vineyards--WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada’s 2018 Winery of the Year-- hosts the second dinner.

      River Stone Estate winemaker Ted Kane and his wife, Lorraine, a doctor, cohost the third dinner on July 21. Kane has an affinity for, and has become known for, his Bordeaux varietals produced in new world ways.

      On August 18, Gene and Shelly Covert of Covert Farms Family Estate will showcase the flavours of their 650-acre organic farm and winery.

      The winemakers' dinners overlook Nita Lake Lodge's namesake body of water and the hotel's exclusive dock.
      Gail Johnson.

      The series wraps up on September 29, with the participating winery to be announced.

      Visitors who opt to make a night of it at Nita Lake Lodge can go for pre- or post-dinner paddle on the glacier-fed lake off the resort’s exclusive dock using a complementary kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard; borrow a bike to ride to Whistler Village and beyond along the adjacent paved Valley Trail; sink into a rooftop hot tub backed by forest with views of Whistler Mountain; or nap in their quiet, lakeview suite.

      Whistler's undulating Valley Trail goes right by Nita Lake Lodge.
      Gail Johnson.

      More info on the Savour the Sun dinners ($89 per person plus tax and gratuity) is here.