(Continued from The WInecouverites Take on Oliver…)
The next morning, we headed to Naramata, for three final tastings before we headed home. We highly recommend these three wineries because they have each pulled off a perfect trifecta of award-winning wines, breathtaking scenery, and delicious food: Hillside, Poplar Grove, and Lakebreeze Wineries.
You will not have trouble finding Hillside Winery and Bistro, which stands tall (72 feet tall!), along Naramata Road. We thought the tower was architecturally romantic – in a Rapunzel Fairy-Tale kind of way – but, we learned that the tower serves a much more utilitarian purpose (not that fairy-tale love isn’t purpose enough): the tower acts as a ventilation shaft to cool the winery cellar (connected at the base of the tower) during the hot Okanagan summers. Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let out the warm air!
The Hillside Bistro has a 65 seat dining area, with two outdoor patios. The upper patio features amazing views of Okanagan Lake, where you can sit back, relax, savour a delicious lunch from Executive Chef Rob Cordonier’s locally sourced menu, and drink some perfectly paired wine until you swear you can see the Ogopogo.
Our Hillside picks:
If you can’t make it to the bistro, stop by the tasting room, which is large and accommodating. The tasting room staff are knowledgable and passionate about the Hillside wines. (Also, they gave us chocolate).
We are absolutely in love with the view from Poplar Grove Winery, which is perched atop the hills of Naramata Bench, overlooking vineyards and the glistening Okanagan lake (sigh!).
Stop by for a wine tasting, or stay longer for a meal from Executive Chef Bruno Terroso’s tapas-style menu of locally sourced delicacies (including fresh herbs from their on-site garden) at. If you are one of those people who instagrams your food (no judgement), then you will love this #nofilter opportunity. Sit outside with your beautifully presented meal, a glass of award winning wine, and a breathtaking backdrop, and you will have no need for Valencia or Hefe.
Poplar Grove is known for their Legacy wine, which is their signature red blend (their 2007 recently won first place at the SIP Wines BC Iconic Red Wines Tasting).
Poplar Grove Notes:
But it was their reserve chardonnay which turned two previously chard-haters (the horrors!) into chard-lovers (the original chard-lovers of the group also fell in love all over again after tasting this reserve chardonnay).
Poplar Grove also has an amazing membership program. Aside from discounts on wine, discounts to Vanilla Pod, first dibs on new releases, and anniversary rewards, members get invited to their annual members-only BBQ which features live music, Vanilla Pod catering, and free flowing wine, all on the amazing Poplar Grove winery grounds (it’s kind of like being at a wedding, but without the bridezilla, drama, or cheesy speeches, and you don’t even need to bring a toaster/vase/envelope of cash!)
Next stop was Lake Breeze Wine Farm. First off, how can you not like a winery that opts for “wine farm” over “winery/vineyard”? (You can’t). (Schooling: The original owners had lived in South Africa, where the term “vineyard” is not typical vernacular, but “Wine Farm” is, hence the terminology). They named their wine farm “Lake Breeze” after the winds that blow through the bluffs year round.
Outside, on the Lake Breeze patio, is their restaurant (aptly named “The Patio at Lake Breeze”, where Chef Mark Ashton has created a locally sourced and ocean-wise menu. Sitting on, listening to live music, sipping on Lake Breeze’s delicious wines, with the lake breeze giving you wind-blown model hair, you will forget that you are in BC, and will probably start speaking French (or Spanish, or Italian) because you will think that you are in a romantic foreign mediterranean city, and/or the starring ingenue in a Nicholas Sparks film.
If you can’t handle being a superstar, then be sure to at least stop in at the adorable tasting room (which will also make you feel like you are in a rom-com, but don’t worry, you can just taste and run – if you don’t run into Ryan Gosling first). Just be sure to call for an appointment if there are 8 or more in your group.
A couple favourites:
This concludes our far too short 2013 Wine Trip to the Okanagan. We have lots of wine to drink now, so! (also a great winery, which we can hopefully visit next trip up to the Okanagan!)