(our previous trips were in 2007, 2012 and 2013)
Number of vacationers: 8 (4 couples)
Number of days away: 5
Number of breweries: 3
Wines purchased: 7 – amongst them 2 Merlot and 3 Gewurztraminer
Late harvest/dessert wines purchased: 3
Bottles of beer purchased: 5
Games of Game of Thrones played: 1/2
Games of Big 2 played: countless (2 tournaments, of which I won 1)
Amount won in Big 2: 1 meal less 2/3s of a meal
Meals on patios: 3 (Volcanic Hills, Red Rooster, See Ya Later)
Number of wineries visited: can’t remember
This year, we got our ducks in a row and planned early, nabbing a vacation rental home using VRBO. The homeowner is new to vacation home rental this year and this was our first experience so thankfully it was positive all around. Our “home” for four nights was a 2,600 square-foot four-bedroom two-storey home on Sunnyside Drive in West Kelowna, very close to Quail’s Gate. It was a grand amount of space for the eight of us, all condo-dwellers, with three full bathrooms, two living rooms and full-sized kitchen and dining room. We didn’t even get use out of the two patios, hot tub and sauna. But we did enjoy very much the upstairs living room with all-reclining big leather sofas including two swiveling armchairs that could face the lake (Lake Okanagan) and block out the rest of the world. It was really cool to get the run of the house and I know it fascinated my friends to no end how affordable it still is in West Kelowna to check out real estate listings… all compared to Vancouver!
We drove up on Thursday afternoon – I had a four-day weekend thanks to a freebie holiday from work on Friday in addition to the stat holiday on Monday. No matter how many times we do it, it’s a long drive out and you have to break it up with pit stops. And it’s all worth it when you get there (hey, I’m not the one driving) when you still have city access but also endless vistas of Mediterranean-like wine country and water. We were in Napa Valley earlier this year and the view doesn’t compare. Sorry.
At Ex Nihilo, we saw a helicopter parked on the lawn! I naively thought it was just on display but when we left the winery, the other group walking out at the same time head for the helicopter. Wow, that is wine touring in style! Later, we walked to Quail’s Gate – our “neighbourhood winery”, it was so close – we saw an “H” marked on the parking lot and then saw a helicopter flying quite low. An emergency medical helicopter? :( Nope – it was landing at Quail’s Gate! :) How pimpin’ is that?
This year, we went added breweries to the mix visiting three of the four breweries I wanted them to hit up in Kelowna and Penticton. I can’t wait to plan a local brewery tour to take place next month. We really are enjoying the craft beer trend and I’m reveling living in the center of this reviving Brewery District in East Vancouver.
At wineries, NPY and I have honed our interests. For me, the one with “wine face”, we tend to sample and buy Gewürztraminer and late harvest dessert wines. NPY has narrowed his interest to Merlots.
After enjoying two brilliant days on or near the water last year, we were sure to schedule a beach day/afternoon. We were really prepared to be comfortable with an abundance of beach blankets to mark our territory and two hammocks to lie in and enjoy the sun and beach. This time, I actually got into the water, up to my neck, going just tens of meters out in the 135 km long Lake Okanagan!
We had a combination of great meals on patios of a few wineries combined with meals at home. The kitchen was fully stocked so we did not have to pick up random things like disposable wine glasses and seasoning. Of course, the patterns at home continued and the girls prepared non-barbecued food and cleaned up and the guys barbecued and/or waited for food.
It was hard to believe but we unplugged from television-watching for four days! We were hardly unplugged from mobile electronics, however. We relied heavily on a Whats App group chat to share photos, status and goings on with each other and friends back in Vancouver.
Our final adventure of the trip was on the way back to Vancouver. Our friends who hit traffic ahead alerted us to the stop-and-go situation on the highway so we broke off from the TransCanada highway. With three phones looking at the immediate area map and Google traffic indicators farther along the route, we navigated our driver through the back roads of Chilliwack and Abbotsford, a stone’s throw from the Canada-US border. It took longer than friends who stuck with the main highway but we were constantly driving and created an adventure out of it!
(- “dash” for wineries / * “asterisk” for breweries)
– Intrigue Wines: I Do rose wine, 2013 Gewürztraminer
– Arrowleaf Cellars: 2013 Late Harvest Vidal, 2011 Merlot
– Gray Monk Estate Winery: 2012 Reflection fortified white wine
* Tree Brewing Co.: 2x Raspberry Porter
– Elephant Island Orchard Wines: 2013 Apricot dessert wine
– Moraine Estate Winery: 2012 Late Harvest Merlot
* Cannery Brewing Company: Naramata Nut Brown Ale
* Tin Whistle Brewing Company: Peach Cream Ale, Killer Bee Porter
– Red Rooster Winery: 2010 Reserve Merlot
– Quail’s Gate Winery: 2013 Orchard Block (reserve) Gewürztraminer
– See Ya Later Ranch: 2013 Gewürztraminer