A Variety of Grapes in West Kelowna, British Columbia

She handed over the receipt and before departing from Beaumont Estate Winery Sandy says to us, “I think you two would really like Black Swift Winery, it’s just up over the hill past Grizzli Winery. You should check it out if you have time.” We nodded our bobble heads, thanked her for the tasting, the recommendation and waved goodbye to our new acquaintances.

Where to champ?” I asked Shauna as she stowed the four bottles of wine into the Grizzli Winery case sitting in the backseat. She thought for about ten-seconds then says, “I’d still like to hit up the Volcano winery. Isn’t it just over there?” Then pointed down the rolling hill dropping off into Okanagan Lake. The hill covered in vines growing branches, leafs and a variety of grapes.

Into the Tacoma we hopped, pushing the beast to life and pulled out of the parking space. Momentarily I pondered turning right to head up to Black Swift but her smile was just too much to pass on going to another winery before moving onward to the recommended vineyard.

Left out the parking lot, left at the first light and half a kilometre down we turned right into a paved parking lot full of Cadillacs, Teslas, Lexus’ and a couple of Porsche 911’s. Hmmmm… yeah I felt out of place in the dirty black Tacoma with a cracked windshield covered by clear packaging tape and skate shop stickers to hide the gaping hole which was smashed into the glass back in late June when I was on my way to a weekend getaway. Not only that but I was definitely underdressed in my Columbia flip flops, cargo shorts and Tatamagouche Brewery t-shirt.

“Perhaps we pulled into the wrong parking lot?” she says whilst giggling in the passenger seat observing the women walking across the dark asphalt in their white and yellow summer dresses the bottoms floating behind in the light summer breeze and their three-inch high heels clicking along the pavement heading into the vineyards restaurant for a late lunch. “Yeah, maybe we have the wrong place,” I replied then backed out of the parking lot. “Guess the riff-raff should go to the “recommended” Black Swift Vineyard, after all.” She nodded her head in agreement.

Back onto the main road, we drove up the hill past the Grizzli and down the other side. Scanning the road ahead left then right looking for a sign to the vineyard. Amongst the houses was an older red barn which stood out as a strange object along this residential road. Passing by the signage that read “Black Swift Winery” we both laughed, then I flipped U-turn in the middle of this lazy afternoon.

Turning left into the entrance a sign on a wood post pointed up the hill: Tasting Room —->

Walking up to the door I spun around to see the vineyard playing out through the entrance and smiled at the view across the valley; cliffs, vineyards, summer homes and tourists driving amongst the locals. The tasting room sat in the perfect setting way up high on top of this knoll at the end of the ridge line.

The other side of this building is probably even better looking than this one,” I said into the air without her catching what I was laying down. A slightly younger couple pushed through the tasting room door then he held it open for us to pass by. We thanked him and wandered into the shop.

Three other couples stood in what we took to be a line forming around the hostess area. “Are you here for a tasting?” said the young voice to the couple to our right. They nodded their heads in agreement because why else would we be here? The hostess asked them to sit wherever they liked, inside, outside or on the lawn. She followed up with the couple before us, then us.

“It’s your tasting,” I said to Shauna, “where would you like to sit?

She wandered out of the tasting room, strolling along the grass looking left then right at the others out in the lawn sitting at picnic tables and on the lawn. Hands holding wine glasses with a variety of tastings; red, white, rose and deep red colours in various clear glasses.

Returning from the restroom, I noted the openness of tasting room. Inside it was probably twenty feet wide by forty feet long. Only tables, chairs and wine barrels along the floor. Two separate counters in the room. One for taking orders and selling wines to customers. The other for moving new people into the room. On either end of the room were full wall bookshelves holding hundreds of bottles of wine. Upon a quick look it was easy to see the fruit forward, lighter coloured wines were along the East wall whilst the deep reds; cab-sauv, shiraz etc., were along the West wall. I would eventually learn my observation was both correct and incorrect at the same time.

Walking towards Shauna patiently waiting at a picnic table were large panes of patio sliding glass doors running the length of the room along the north side of the building. The room was cozy yet open and a bit loud, so I was thankful that she picked sitting outside in the mid afternoon sun.

Onto the patio I trodded looking left then right spotting a variety of fun objects; a fire pit, a food truck, barrels laying on their sides and row upon row of vines with plush red grapes growing in the warm sunshine.

Off in the nearby distance the vineyard rows seemed to escape down into the lush blue waters of Okanagan Lake. “This place is magical,” I said as I sat down across the table from Shauna who was basking in the warm sun. “Welcome to Black Swift Winery,” said the character behind me. Spinning around to see who was approaching our host was a young man in his early twenties wearing a blue and orange checkerboard button-up shirt with sleeves rolled up, tan pants, classic black Vans skate shoes and a pair of dark sunglasses which popped against his deep red-orange hair. “What brings you two in on this fine Sunday afternoon?” he said.

~ Aaron JacksonCrabb