The Winecouverites had our inaugural wine tasting trip this past August 2013 in Oliver and Naramata visiting Hester Creek, Black Hills Estate, Church & State, Poplar Grove, Lake Breeze, and Hillside.
Our lovely driver Roy from the South Okanagan Limousine Company escorted us on a scenic drive from our lakefront stay in Kaleden to our first wine tasting in nearby Oliver, the Wine Capital of Canada (why didn’t we learn this in Geography class?). Being chauffeured by limousine may sound ostentatiously diva-esque, but it is actually a socially and fiscally responsible alternative to driving yourself (friends do not let friends drink and spit out the Nota Bene) or booking a wine tour (wine tour companies are pricey, plus nobody puts baby in a bus). Our first stop was a tasting at Hester Creek Winery followed by lunch at the Terrafina Restaurant.
Hester Creek’s 4,000 square foot guest centre features a wine library (where do we sign up for a library card?), demonstration kitchen, executive lounge & barrel room, large tasting bar, wine shop featuring local artisan foods, and a covered patio area outside where local musicians play live music on Saturday afternoons.
We were welcomed into the guest centre with a glass of their great summer sipper, the Character White, which was convenient because we get cranky when forced to suffer two minutes sans wine. Unfortunately, we may have spent more than two minutes wandering around with our Welcome Wine before hitting the tasting bar (we may, or may not, have been looking for the wine library), because just as we approached, we realised that it was already time for our lunch reservation next door at Terrafina Restaurant (located in the old Hester Creek Tasting Building).
Rushing your wine tasting (i.e. wine shooters) is definitely not recommended; however it will give you an excuse to come back (not that you need an excuse). We are thinking that the Winecouverites should prolong our next visit at Hester Creek by booking one of their six Mediterranean-style Villa suites, and signing up for a cooking-class or intimate BBQ on their VIP patio. Who needs Tuscany, when this is all just a short limo drive away? (Just kidding, Tuscany. We will always need you. We are just thankful for your closer Canadian cousin).
A couple of our favourite wines from this tasting were:
Trebbiano 2012 $22.95 Hester Creek Tasting Notes: The Okanagan’s only Trebbiano, these vines are some of the oldest on the estate. This slightly off-dry vintage displays generous fruit flavours with mineral and grapefruit notes, as well as aromas of apple, citrus and passion fruit. The palate is crisp and fresh with a great balanced acidity. The structure of this wine pairs well with goat cheese, blue cheese and slightly spicy foods. Try a caramelized onion and gruyere tart.
Reserve Merlot 2010 $28.95 Hester Creek Tasting Notes: This Reserve Merlot is very enjoyable right now and has the ability to easily age for 5-7 years. Showcasing strong notes of mocha, plum and eucalyptus, this wine has a lovely balanced tannin structure with a multi layerd mid palate of black current and cherries. Try pairing this wine with a nice cut of prime rib, something with some marbling. Alternatively it will pair well with a wide range of cheeses medium or full bodied.
Terrafina offers tuscan-style food in Hester Creek’s beautiful vineyard setting. We dined on their 24-seat patio (the restaurant also accommodates 47 people inside) and shared the margherita pizza, tuscan esalada, caprese insalata, sausage and mushroom pizza, smoked trout sandwich, and pan fried squid (again, not that an excuse is needed, but wine tasting requires ample fuel!). Chef Natasha Schooter’s menus feature fresh, local ingredients that pair perfectly with Hester Creek’s signature wines and Golden-Mile backdrop. In fact, overlooking some of the oldest Golden Mile vineyards while dining al fresco and sipping on wine, we almost forgot that we were in the Okanagan and not Tuscany. But then we remembered, and realised that we were late for our appointment at Black Hills…Roy! To Black Hills We Go!