Roll out the Barrel: Summer Wine Fest in the Okanagan

The new Poplar Grove winery. credit: Claire Sear

This past week in the Okanagan, the Summer Wine Festival was in full force and with over 30 events, a good time with good wine was enjoyed by all who attended.

When you have cycled 160 km in wine country and the Canadian desert in the inaugural Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan, you deserve some of the Okanagan’s best wine provided at the Gran Fondo wine tasting with over 300 wines. Congratulations to all of the participants, organizers, volunteers and spectators who motivated and cheered on the riders.

Congratulations to Gerry Robe, bartender extraordinaire from Raudz who won the Bartender Mixology Event held at the Kelowna Art Gallery. If you didn’t attend the event, you can still enjoy the winning cocktail at Raudz.

While storm clouds moved the first Battle of the Benches held at the Ramada Penticton hotel from the planned outdoor pool-side event indoors, the crowd enjoyed over a 100 wines, dined on never-ending circulating appetizers and rocked a good time. At $40.00 per ticket, this Summer wine festival event was a hit with locals, tourists, guests of the Ramada Penticton hotel and participating wineries.

The BBQ King or Queen event in the Similkameen valley is always a highlight of the Summer Wine Festival. Held in the beautiful outdoor garden at Canada’s oldest surviving pioneer flour mill-the scenic Grist Mill in Keremeos, the participating chefs partake in an Iron chef style competition where they are all provided with the same locally sourced ingredients including the star ingredient and a local Similkameen winery. This year’s key ingredient was turkey and guests enjoyed eight outstanding food and wine pairings from eight of the Okanagan’s best chefs in the breathtaking and tranquil Similkameen Valley.

Executive Chef Chris Van Hooydonk from Burrowing Owl Estate Winery's Sonora Room

Congratulations to the King(s) – Best Chef-Executive Chef Chris VanHooydonk from Burrowing Owl Estate Winery’s Sonora Room Restaurant and Best Food and Wine Pairing from Executive Chef Chris Remington from the Hooded Merganser Restaurant  and Forbidden Fruit Winery.

Poplar Grove Winery’s official grand opening of their spectacular new winery in Naramata began with the Roll out the Barrel ceremony (why cut a ribbon, when you can drop a barrel) and a rock’ng party with live music, divine hors d’oeuvres and fantastic wines. What began one evening with the owners, a glass (or two) of wine and a sketch on a napkin has become a modern vision of architectural excellence with glass walls and panoramic views.

A fitting showcase for their award-winning wines and a must visit. Mark your calendar for the Fall Wine Festival-September 30th to October 9th, 2011.

– Claire Sear, EAT Okanagan Reporter 

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