Monday, 15 July 2013

Grape Escapes

I recently headed up to Penticton with some ladies for a weekend of cycling, wine tasting, shenanigans and general old fun in the was fabulous!  We booked our wine tour with Grape Escapes so that everyone could fully partake in the tastings (none of this dumping of wine...such a waste!).  It was a well organized tour, the bus was spacious, there were yummy crackers, cheese, fruit, dark chocolate and water for the ride between wineries, and Dino (the tour guide) definitely picked some fabulous wineries for us to visit.  The only thing I'd mention is that it is a true tour, so if you just want to go to some wineries and get a bit tipsy, this might not be the tour for you.  The other thing to note is that the 5 hour tour does not include the time for lunch, so it ends up being approximately 7 hours.  All in all, a very fun day! 

First stop of the day: Penticton's VQA Wine Information Centre
If you're in the Penticton area and don't have the time to go to any wineries, or if you regretted not picking up an extra bottle while you were at a winery, make your way to the VQA Wine Information Centre.  They have a plethora of local wines at winery prices.  Dino, our guide (and an ex-Principal), is on the left.

Second Stop of the Day - Misconduct
This was one of the cutest wineries that we visited and the lady who helped us with our tasting was brilliant!  She had us cracking up on multiple occasions.  They also have a tapas restaurant with a gorgeous view of the valley...I'd definitely like to check that out at some point in time! 

My view at the tasting bar.

The patio.
Twitter: @MisconductWines
Third Stop of the Day: Ruby Blues
I absolutely loved this winery!  It was just so unique and eclectic.  As we drove in we passed their trademark VW van as well as the owner on her tractor.  Then as we got out of the bus we were serenaded with music...turns out that they have rock speakers throughout the entire vineyard and play music to the grapes all day long.  Awesome!  Add to that that the people were fabulous, the wine was yummy and the owner also makes shoes which she sells in the wine was fantabulous!

Rick about to start our tasting.  Not too shabby of a view!
The tasting room and wine shop.

The vineyard, Ruby Blues mural and the gorgeous Okanagan. 
Twitter: @RubyBluesWinery 

Stop #3: Lake Breeze
Up next was Lake Breeze for lunch and a tasting.  I'm not going to lie, we bumped into some friends here and I was starving, so I was more focused on the excitement of seeing friends and the food than the tasting.  However, that was a good thing because their patio rocked and the food was amazing!!!  Would definitely recommend stopping here for a bite to eat.  The only thing to note is that there isn't a view of the valley when you're eating lunch, but it is still gorgeous.

Two of the best ladies ever to ride and wine with, on the Lake Breeze patio.

My Chicken Sandwich: roast Maple Hill Farms chicken in house-made charred sour apple BBQ sauce, granny smith apple and smoked gouda on fresh baked focaccia bread and served with organic blended greens.  Heaven!  ($16)

The Pasta: tagliatelle pasta with zucchini, fresh chili, lemon zest, white wine, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and parmigiano reggiano.  Had I known the person sitting next to me at all, my fork would have been in her dish multiple smelled out of this world!  ($15)

The Organic Blended Green Salad: Happy Days goat dairy cheese and birch syrup glazed walnuts in a grilled apple, brandy and thyme vinaigrette.  ($11)

The Antipasto Platter: the Chef's selection of Italian inspired, locally sourced favourites - cold sliced charcuterie, assorted Canadian cheese, marinated vegetables, bruschetta and olives.  The only reason I didn't get this is because I wasn't sure if it would fill me up enough for lunch...definitely had a wee bit of buyers remorse when this dish came out...until I took a bite of mine! ($15)
Twitter: @LakeBreezeWines

Stop #4 - Van Westen Vineyards
This was hands-down my favourite tasting of the day.  Robert Van Westen (the owner and winemaker) came in from camping with his family especially to do our tasting.  Add to that that he was humble, knowledgeable, genuine, funny and felt that you had been invited into someone's house to try their wines rather than getting a rehearsed skit.  It was fabulous!  Plus, the wines were out of control.  I literally could have bought a bottle of everything we tried and we must have tried eight different wines.  This is most definitely a must-visit winery.

Robert Van Westen

Can I take a barrel home??
Twitter: @winegrower99

Last Stop of the Day - Therapy
I'm not going to lie, by this point we'd had a few tastings, it was hot and we really just wanted to get back to the pool and start drinking our plunder!  So, I give full credit to the fellow who did our tasting.  He rolled with the punches, had a good time with us and made the tasting thoroughly enjoyable.  Which wasn't hard considering the wines were yummy and at a very good price point.

The view through the vineyards of the lake at Therapy.
The wine shop and Farmacy (I got a good kick out of that one!).
Twitter: @TherapyWines

We drove home via the Hope Princeton so we could stop off at Burrowing Owl along the way.  Gorgeous winery and amazing if only the people who work there could get their noses out of the air.
Twitter: @BurrowingOwlBC

My plunder! Misconduct Chenin Blanc, Ruby Blues Riesling, Ruby Blues Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake Breeze Gewurtziminer, Van Westen Voluptuous, Therapy Syrah, Therapy Fizziotherapy, Therapy Superego, Burrowing Owl Syrah. 

Twitter: @GrapeEscapes_ca

Thanks to all the shenanigan makers out there (you know how you are!) who made the weekend such a fun one!  #cheetos

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