Eat, Drink, Ski: Big Reds at Big White

The Main Event, DiBello Wines


Back in the day, dining at a Canadian ski resort meant a plate of potato skins and choosing one of three generic beers. Some establishments may have even dabbled in 1980’s California Cuisine. Well, we won’t go there.

After hitting the slopes, outdoor adventurers now enjoy exquisite food at cool spots like Araxi in Whistler. While that might be expected from a host of the 2010 Olympics – what about foodies in the ski and board world beyond Whistler?

In the last four years, Big White ski resort (50 kilometers southeast of Kelowna) has held the annual Big Reds at Big White. The event pairs wine and food lovers with BC winemakers – and it’s getting bigger each year.

Held over two days in December (9 & 10), Big Reds brought approximately 300 people to the mountain where they sipped, sampled, and tasted – without a potato skin in sight.

Trevor Hanna, the resort’s Food and Beverage Director, has spearheaded the event for the last two years. If he had his way, Big Reds would be a week of celebration, Cornucopia-style. “It’s one of my favourite weekends of the year”, states Hanna emphatically.

In an effort to shine the social media spotlight on this wintery fest, Hanna enlisted Okanagan-based socmed maven Allison Markin of All She Wrote Consulting. The event was dubbed #eatdrinkski on Twitter, and people were encouraged to use the hashtag to connect with like minded folks on the hill – or follow along at home.

“We want to help promote BC wineries”, say Markin. “We ran a Twitter-based contest to build activity on the (Twitter) feeds.” #eatdrinkski is a co-branding initiative between her culinary-based social media seminars, Eat.Drink.Tweet., and Hanna’s Big Reds at Big White.

With unrelentingly friendly staff, Big White was a gracious host as attendees ate, drank – and eventually skied (or skidded, as the case may be).



Guests of Friday’s Barrel Tasting were treated to a select handful of super fresh wines (think just or not yet bottled), along with teaser tastings of mountain fare by Kettle Valley Steakhouse. Elk tenderloin with blueberry (and elk carpaccio!), wild mushrooms on halibut, seared duck breast in endive with sour cherry glaze…the food surpassed any expectations one may have about resort dining.

On Saturday, those not suited to carving fresh powder (like yours truly) meandered through the village in search of sustenance. Here are some of the best eats found at higher altitude:

Breakfast: Sante Grille & Lounge. With dishes like the Salt Spring Island Benny (smoked salmon and capers) or Snow Ghost Wrap (eggs, pico de gallo, avocado & cheddar in a spinach tortilla), Chef Vincent Denis is mindful of hungry skiers and boarders while keeping things slightly decadent. My choice: French Toast – sourdough dipped in homemade vanilla bean batter.

Lunch: Globe Café & Tapas Bar. Commercial Drive hip meets Big White casual. Oceanwise is a staple, and almost two dozen dishes are (or can be) gluten-free. Even after a filling breakfast, we managed to take down the Homemade Mac n’ Cheese (three cheeses, crispy bacon, smoked paprika – baked just for you) and Oceanwise Crab Cakes (Thai red curry sauce, fennel orange salad).



With 30 winemakers represented from the Okanagan Valley to Fraser Canyon, consumers had access to a myriad of winemaking styles to suit their palates.

Top Reds 

Di Bello Wines 2010 Merlot – big tannins and well-structured; think gentle giant.

Laughing Stock 2009 Syrah – a delicate balance of finesse and strength; a Mercedes, all the way.

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2008 Syrah – dark summer fruits meet violets and spice; your first love, complete with heart-pounding and an inability to speak proper sentences

Palate Cleanser

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Rose NV (Pinot Noir) – faded English rose petals and the lingering aroma of freshly baked bread; a weekend away, in a glass



While this author might not ski, her fella does – and he did. Early opening meant not every run was available, but that didn’t stop people from lining up to carve, shred, or whatever it is they do on skis or boards. All reports were favorable, even from the guy who hadn’t skied in almost 10 years – he sprained a thumb, but otherwise came off the mountain in one piece, still smiling, and with every intention to return.


Want to join the Big Reds at Big White fun next season? Visit their website for details on the next event.


– By Jeannette Montgomery


Written By:

Jeannette is EAT's Okanagan writer.\r\n\r\nWith her rural Canadian roots and love of grand experiences, Jeannette is equal \r\n\r\nmeasures country and city. Since moving from Vancouver to the Okanagan in 2007, \r\n\r\nshe quit ...

Comments are closed.