Usually every April the wife and I, spend about 10 days taking a road trip down to the Okanagan Valley in southern British Columbia to celebrate our anniversary, and what better way to do that then exploring wine country!
In 2019 we opted to take a wine tour through Grape Escapes Wine Tour Company and chose the Okanagan Falls wine tour also known as OK Falls.
I chose this area because we had very little knowledge of this wine region and usually drove through here on our way south to the grandparents home.
Around 10am, we were picked up by the tour operator who introduced himself as Dino. We introduced ourselves then got the five-cent tour about the mini van. And were informed this would be a private tour today only the three of us.
Turning right out the driveway Dino informed we were headed for the BC Wine Information building in order to give the wineries a chance to open up.
During the 15-minute drive into Penticton we learned that Dino has extensive knowledge about the Penticton and Okanagan Falls areas mainly because he was born and raised here. Also he has over 20+ years experience in hospitality, viticulture and tourism.
We started our trip at the BC VQA, where we perused through the numerous available wines, then took in a tasting of a Township 7 merlot where we learnt about the 5-S’s: Sight, Smell, Sip, Swirl, and Savour. What our educator at the VQA taught us, is you should look at the wine, swirl it in your glass, smell it for the aroma, sip it for a first tasting, savour it over your tongue and spit it out. Then repeat the swirl, sip, savour. And that EVERYONE understands it is not rude when you spit as you are there for tasting the wine!
We departed the BC VQA and before we were back on the road, Dino informed us about the couples picnic basket of goodies he had brought courtesy of Grape Escapes which included pieces of 72% dark chocolate, brie, aged white cheddar cheese, edam, an assortment of crackers and a 6-pack of bottled waters. All of these snacks were to assist with cleansing our pallets between vineyards.
We toured and tasted numerous wines: Merlot, Syrah, Cab-Sauv, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Champagne and Port. We were treated like royalty at each of the five vineyards which we stopped at each with its own rich story and fantastic scenery. Dino brought us to: See Ya Later Ranch, Nighthawk, Liquidity, Noble Ridge, and Wild Goose. We spent the longest time at Liquidity, only because this stop included a midday lunch in their bistro overlooking the bottleneck of OK Falls.
By the end of the tour we had learnt about the history of this wine region, each vineyard, Grape Escapes, our host and driver, viticulture, and why its important to taste outside of your “normal” tasting zone. We had purchased 1 1/2 cases of wine with 3-surpirses: a Chardonnay from Noble Ridge which is casked in steel barrels, a Port from Wild Goose which is casked in Whiskey barrels and a bottle of Champagne from See Ya Later Ranch, which both surprised and delighted our taste buds!
We cannot say enough about our appreciation for Dino, his spending quality time with us and educating us about the region. For all of the hosts at each vineyard, for their sharing of their knowledge both about the wines they were serving, the culture from which they work and their dedication to hospitality. We look forward to our next trip into the Okanagan and we’ll surely be contacting Grape Escapes for another fantastic tour!