Friday, 5 September 2014

Introduction to Okanagan Valley

Stepping out of the Dash-8 into pouring rain was not what I had expected my first impression of Okanagan would be. The weather was very out of character for the end of summer, so I was very glad that I had a ride and some accommodation organised for the night. The winemaker was kind enough to be hosting me for my first two nights to allow me some time to get my bearings and arrange all the necessities of my stay. He even had a lovely roast chicken dinner waiting for me!

I had little time to catch up on the missed sleep of travel, as I was up and out the door by 7am to catch a bus into the business centre of Penticton. I spent an interesting hour waiting at the bus stop, chatting with three older locals.

As the day was cold, grey and drizzling, I think that the Penticton area was not looking it's best. Even so, driving along the cliff side of Lakes Skaha and Okanagan is extremely beautiful.

After getting the boring stuff out of the way (security number, bank account, etc), I had some time to stroll the streets and suss the place out a little. There is a lovely promenade along the waterfront or 'beach' of the lake where I enjoyed taking in the sights.

As lunch approached, I knew I needed to find somewhere that I could enjoy my first local wine. The information centre is actually an excellent wine shop as well, so that was a good starting point. They helpfully directed me to a new small wine bar that had opened up in the Main Street called 'The Cellar' (very original name). Here, I was delighted to try a tasting flight of three lovely local wines. Following are my first impressions of Okanagan Valley wines:

1. La Frenz Viognier
Sweet stone fruits and grape juice on the nose, white peach and honey nectar, slightly viscous palate.

2. Hester Pinot Gris
Light intensity, lemon pith and 'mealy' nose. Medium bodied with sweet and sour grapefruit flavour - quite refreshing.

3. Mooncurser Syrah
Gorgeously perfumed nose of violets and lavender, lean and taught structure with dark berry fruits, coffee beans and black pepper (my favourite of the three).

What an encouraging start to my adventure - everyone was helpful and friendly and the wines were just what I had hoped to find. Let's hope both people and wines are on par at the winery I am working at - if not better!