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BC Wine Trip- Spitoon Version

BC Wine Trip- Spitoon Version

Old Sep 7, 16, 10:44 pm
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Talking BC Wine Trip- Spitoon Version

Hello all!

This write up is going to be a bit different than most in that it’s going to be about my June trip to BC with the majority focusing on my solo wine tour through the Okanagan Valley.

A small bit of background about this trip. I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world, but one thing I’ve always kept pushing aside and putting off is exploring more of my own country, ie. Canada.

Since I decided to pursue a sommelier certification earlier this year, I decided to do my big trip to South America next year since I thought I’d need more time off (and money) to do it the way I wanted. So I was thinking where to go? Back to Europe? I love Spain, but also would like to visit Scotland and go back to Germany. The exchange rate b/w the CDN $$$ and € is pretty bad though so I thought I’d pass.

Then I figured, why not go to BC? I’ve never been, and had a $200 gift card for Air Canada, plus it would give me a chance to explore the Okanagan and Osoyoos, which is the only desert in Canada.

But one more thing before starting the trip report. I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Jumper Jack for the lounge pass and to Bartolo (although unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the code from Bartolo, I appreciate gesture.) I really appreciate it. Massive shoutout and thank you!
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Now onto the trip:

I took AC out west, economy. Since it was economy, there’s no need to talk about the flight. It was fine. No complaints, but I do regret not having sprung for a better seat/exit row. When I did try to get a better seat (exit row), AC doubled the price! I guess you have to book it when you book your reservation. Lesson learned.

The bird once we landed in Vancouver.



My happy place



Flying in reminded me of flying into Hong Kong with all the little islands.


Flight itself was uneventful and I mainly read about wines regions. I mean it's Economy. Let's be realistic people!


Airport was nice and after meeting up w/ my sister (who’s studying for her Phd at UBC) we dropped off my bags at the Delta (Delta Vancouver Suites) and grabbed a bite at a veggie resto in Gastown. I had actually called prior to check in, while we were on the way to the airport and I was told that the room was ready.



Veggie burger- surprisingly VERY good! Name of the place is MeeT in Gastown.


One of Vancouver's biggest tourist traps/scams... lol (according to my local BC friends that is) it's not really steam powered.


After lunch, it was back to the Delta and check in.

When I went to originally check-in I was offered a room upgrade, which surprised me since I was using an employee rate (I work part time for the Ritz), I said sure for one night and got put on the 23rd (top) floor. I only wanted one night since I was leaving early after the 2nd night. When I went back to actually check-in because my room was ready, it was a different front desk agent who said the first one goofed but that they’d let me stay in there for one night. I offered to room move after the first night but they said they’d let me know. About 20mins later, I got a call from the front desk. They’re going to let me stay in the room both nights and only charge me one night of Club Access. Score!

So below are pictures of the room:




Personally I think it’s alright but enormous for a solo traveller. It was nice being able to open up the windows though and the view was great, but in my experience Paris is still #1.
I'll give a mini review of the Delta at the very end, along with the other hotels (Holiday Inn) that I stayed at.

Sorry, no photos of the club lounge...


However the views were great!



But at night even better:





Near the elevator (looking south)



After walking around w/ my sister’s dog around UBC while she had a seminar, it was back to the hotel for a nap before heading back out to see Stanley Park.



Nice gardens while walking towards the beach.






Oops!



I doubt I would have done much studying with a view like that. Then again it is a clothing optional beach...


I saw some little crabs walking around and tried to get a photo, but Mr. Bilbo kept wanting to play with the crabs...



Stanley Park is nice and I can see why people like it a lot. After a bit of a walk around, it was time to head back and call it a night.


Haven't seen a sunset that nice since I was in Ibiza... but Ibiza still takes the cake.

We saw a bunch of birds and beavers doing their thing as we walked around. Over all nice place...

Not a bad 1st day in Vancouver.

Day 2, to be continued... and yes, there WILL be wine... I promise!
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Old Sep 8, 16, 6:15 am
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Day 2

The next day I met up with my sis again and we went to North Vancouver (which I didn’t know was it’s own city) and then Granville Island. Both were cool funky places and I wouldn’t mind going back. Granville Island certainly has a different vibe than St. Lawrence Market here in TO. Having said that, there were some funky items and vendors/shops.


Heheh


I agree!










Interesting...



I saw the world largest “small” apple fritter… insane.

My arteries loved it!

After splitting w/ my sis (she had to get to UBC to attend a lecture) I decided to explore Canada Place and Coal Harbour.
Got to see the Olympic Cauldron and an 8-bit lego looking whale.


After that it was back to the hotel for a quick bite before meeting up with some high school friends. Some I hadn’t seen in over 6 years. We met up at the Vancouver Urban Winery.



It’s got an interesting concept in that they make some of the wines on site, but that all the grapes are sourced from different places throughout BC. Since I was going to be heading to the Okanagan the next day, this was a good place to get an introduction as I’d only had a handful of BC wines before.

Nothing spectacular, but none were terrible...

My mini review, the place is interesting (but closes at 11pm on a Friday night. ...?!) but the wines I felt were simply average. No harm, no foul.

When I posted my comment/review on tripadvisor, management replied that they have to close early because they're considered a restaurant and not a bar. Def needs to be changed IMO.

Anyways, after being a bit too late with my friends catching up, it was time to get back to the hotel before heading out the next day.

The wines await!
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Old Sep 8, 16, 9:22 pm
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Let the wine begin...

Leaving a bit later than I’d originally had hoped (wine does that to ya), I headed out with my original goal to get to West Kelowna via the Yellowhead Highway (#5) into the Okanagan. But first, I had the crazy goal of getting to Sasquatch Provincial Park near Henderson Springs. Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad, and I had set myself a goal of being in Kelowna by 2pm.
I did see Bigfoot though as I did make it as far as Henderson Springs for about 5mins.

Henderson Springs does look nice though. I wouldn’t mind going back in the future at some point.



After my photo with bigfoot it was time to keep going to W. Kelowna via Merritt on the Yellowhead highway.
First of all, I have to say, that while I am used to driving in pretty much any type of weather, snow and fog in June was certainly a first for me. It’s also been the only time I’ve been genuinely freaked out to drive. Unfortunately there was nowhere to stopover, so onwards. At some points I was going 30km/h with people passing me doing 120+km/h.

Slowly but surely I made it…luckily the weather started to improve as I got more into the interior after passing Merritt.

About 2hrs after my original goal, I FINALLY made it to West Kelowna. My hotel for the evening was a Holiday Inn, but the room wasn’t ready but they held my luggage. No problem, there’s wine to be had!
First was Quail’s Gate. The place was packed, but I didn’t have to wait too long. Overall the wines were decent. I picked up a bottle of their 2013 Cab Sauv to age for a yr or so.


Nice view

I’d recommend checking it out, but can’t comment on the tours. The wines, while decent are a bit on the pricier side.

Anyways, next was what I would consider a hipster winery called “The Hatch” where they have a giant egg on their sign. Sorry didn't get a photo of that though.

I also did their tasting flight (5 wines) and brought back their 2013 Chardonnay. Was going to share it w/ someone but that didn’t work out. Ah well. The guys from my tasting group seemed to enjoy it a lot.



The one my tasting group enjoyed. Very rich, buttery, with a ton of malolactic fermentation. Also hints of vanilla and wood. Well more like a TON of wood. Think, butter served with a slab of wood. The complete opposite of a Chablis.

BOO!

The story with that bottle is that the winemaker/owner asked his kids to design a label with the winner being on the wines. He couldn't pick so they both went on different labels.




Wish I could get these for my condo...

After checking out a few other wineries that were so-so, I made a stop to a small family winery called Beaumont. Once again, I did the full tasting and liked most of their wines. They had a good sparkling called “Spritz and Giggle” which I did want to get , but with limited weight (sparkling bottle), I had to pass. I did end up picking up a bottle of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir icewine. I’ve actually never seen a Pinot Noir icewine here in Ontario. I’m sure someone makes it though.

Finally it was off to Mission Hill, which was suggested to me that I visit by my wine instructor (master sommelier) and classmates in wine class.
First of all, this place was enormous and there was PLENTY of staff on hand to point you in the right direction or to sell you a bottle.



You've now entered...


Wow.


Really nice views here as you can tell.



Tasting room


Now here’s my beef with Mission Hill. The wines that they have at the tasting bar, are the entry level (albeit good) wines. While they are more than happy to sell you their higher end bottles, they won’t let you sample anything else, unless if you’re being guided by a sommelier. Personally I found that a bit strange that a sommelier had to be there since most wineries will just charge you extra for the higher end stuff but by no means did I expect the entire portfolio to be available.

Anyways, the girl at the tasting bar went out of her way to let me try a glass of the Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir after checking with one of the somms onsite after I explained to her that I was a sommelier student and that my instructor had strongly recommended that I go.

While I didn’t get to try the current vintage, I tried one from the year prior (2012) and man it was pretty good. I decided to pick up a bottle and that’s going away for about 5 years at least.


With the end of day coming to a close and tired from all the driving, I decided to head back to the hotel.

This time my room was ready, so it was a go to check in.

I think I was given a disability room based on the placement of some items, but no matter. Room itself was alright, but the walls are thin. Heard the kids next door laughing a lot, but it wasn’t too bad.
Sadly no photos, but nothing spectacular. It was a room and clean. Bed was decent and I slept.

I'll give my hotel mini review at the end.

After some Boston Pizza and doing some research for the following day it was time to call it a night. Tomorrow it was off to Osoyoos: The Canadian Desert!

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 8, 16 at 9:39 pm
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Old Sep 8, 16, 10:08 pm
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Oh dear, you missed out on eating at RauDZ in Kelowna. And the ice-wines at Rollingdale - about 1km from Beaumont. Perhaps next time.
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Old Sep 9, 16, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by iceblueshoes View Post
I saw some little crabs walking around and tried to get a photo, but Mr. Bilbo kept wanting to play with the crabs...
Sounds like fun for Mr. Bilbo - cute picture
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Old Sep 9, 16, 4:41 pm
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Originally Posted by CRAZ8 View Post
Oh dear, you missed out on eating at RauDZ in Kelowna. And the ice-wines at Rollingdale - about 1km from Beaumont. Perhaps next time.
I was actually trying to find Rollingdale but couldn't find any entrance signage and with time running out I decided to just go to Mission Hill.
Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Sounds like fun for Mr. Bilbo - cute picture
He's a pretty chill dog with squishy feet. Although he did try to fight a mastif and husky/wolf mix 2 weeks ago... def punches above his weight.

I'll post the final day later this evening.
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Old Sep 9, 16, 5:59 pm
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Great report...looking to head there next Sept so this TR is getting me thirsty!
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Old Sep 9, 16, 6:36 pm
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Originally Posted by iceblueshoes View Post
Although he did try to fight a mastif and husky/wolf mix 2 weeks ago... def punches above his weight.
Perhaps he has a magnifying mirror
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Old Sep 9, 16, 8:52 pm
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The journey south begins...

Before continuing south, I needed breakfast (no Boston Pizza)
Feeling lazy and being on the oukskirts of town, I decided just to eat at the hotel. While it was only about $12... well.. it did leave something to be desired...

Still MUCH better than just about everything I had in Cuba...

Heading south, the mountains I kept seeing along the drive just blew me away. Some people like beaches, I like mountains.

Along the way south, I stopped off at a winery called “Backdoor Winery” which is so tiny but had a free tasting. I picked up a bottle of their pinot grigio to drink with my supper that day and then would toss into my suitcase to bring back the leftovers. While the wines there weren’t anything amazing, I felt bad for the free samples.

They did have a wine based off the Oraniensteiner grape,which I'd never tried before let alone heard so figured, why not?
It was sort of like a cross with a Pinot Grigio and Riesling but with med level of acid and lemon/lime fruit notes. Would be ok on a patio.

Anyways, the drive south continues…

I was actually looking for 2 specific wineries: Heaven’s Gate (no it’s not a cult) and Dirty Laundry in the Summerland area. When I got there, I learned that the little pocket of wineries is called Bottleneck drive and that if you visit at least 5 wineries you can get entered in a draw. The views like other parts of the Okanagan were amazing and one could easily spend a day here or 2 sampling all the wines. Unfortunately I only had a few hours as I wanted to check out some wineries closer to Osoyoos.

While Heaven’s Gate makes a decent wines (loved their rose so much I brought back a bottle, all in all the wines throughout (Summerland) were all great.


Off to join a wine cult...


A quail!


Pretty happy place I think

Notably was Silkscarf. I was able to try 3 and damn… these are some yummy complex wines. I wish I’d had brought back a bottle from here, but I only had so much space in the suitcase. Some comments on tripadvisor were that the wines are pricier than other places. While this is technically true, we’re talking an extra $5-7 for the most part, which certainly won’t break the bank. Highly recommended if you ever get the chance.

Looks like a caboose from the outside...


Wow. All I have to say. Done w/ the saignee method.

I also managed to do a tasting at Thornhaven (interesting labels on their bottles), 8th generation, Giant Head (where the owner winemaker borderline interrogated me when I mentioned I was training to be a somm, but must admit the wines were good), Lunessence, Summergate and lastly Dirty Laundry.

Lady at the Thorhaven winery called this the "Oh my wine". Said because after you have some drinks the alcohol hits you out of nowhere.


The supposed best Pinot Noir in the country. Was ok but I wouldn't say the best. I personally find I have to be in the right mood/mindset to really appreciate it. Maybe I just wasn't when I tried it?




Dirty Laundry was a “fun” winery. Perfect if you’re with a group that’s not too serious about wines or a bachelor party. The tastings were free and I got to try out another 8 or so there. While I did like most of their wines enough to buy, they actually sell a good portion here, so I figured, why lug it around if I can get it here?



Do you see what I see?



The story of the winery though goes that it started off as a laundry place, but the guy was from China and didn’t speak much English. In order to make more $$$, he offered brothel services while the laundry was being done…

[/URL]
They had a restaurant area outside where you could sip on the wines.

What did I get myself into here...
[/URL]

Um... ya...




They do sell picnic baskets and food that you can enjoy outside, so no need to pack a lunch and from what I remember they prices were more than fair.

After this interesting place, and not being able to find the Saxon Winery, it was time to continue south as people showing up at Dirty Laundry were becoming, drunker and drunker…

Don't get me wrong, they do make VERY good reds and their gewurtz (Mmm Woo I think was the name) is damn good!

On the way south, I grabbed a quick lunch and coffee at Tim Hortons in Pentiction before continuing on south. Slowly the landscape kept changing and changing and started to resemble a brochure from California…

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 10, 16 at 8:29 pm
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Old Sep 9, 16, 9:12 pm
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Originally Posted by alexisonsmith View Post
Great report...looking to head there next Sept so this TR is getting me thirsty!
Thanks!
Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them for you.
Go thirsty!
Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Perhaps he has a magnifying mirror
Haha... maybe...
but it was a serious fight. They 2 big dogs were fighting and he got into it with them nipping at both of them... but they didn't care about him...
Lucky for him that was the case. They could have easily killed him.
My sis said she was seriously worried about him and that it took 4 people to pull the other 2 dogs away from each other. Apparently there was blood.

More to come...

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 10, 16 at 10:19 am
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Old Sep 10, 16, 8:23 pm
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The Final Stretch...


Incredible views along the way...

After driving for about an hour I came to See Ya Later Ranch (yes it’s a winery) which was named after how the original landowner (Major Fraser) signed his latter. The wine names are named after his pets which are buried across from the main tasting place. The Major was a parton of the SPCA and being a big dog lover, I decided to drive what felt like up a mountain to check it out.






Finally when getting up there the views are incredible. Talking to one of the guys in the tasting room who was beginning his career in wines, he said he managed to come out to the Niagara wine region and was shocked how flat it was. Haha! But that he did like a lot of the wines he got to check out.

I got to try out 4 wines at See Ya Later and while the reds throughout BC were solid, I actually didn’t bring back any with me. My parents did bring me back a bottle during their more recent trip to BC though so I’ll be looking forward to that.

Another cool fact is that all tasting fees are donated towards the BCSPCA.

hehe

After looking at the various dog related items it was time to continue south to Road 13 and Burrowing Owl. Along the way, I managed to come across Inniskillin’s/Jackson Triggs BC locations and since I’d been wanting to try out a BC Vidal icewine, figured, why not?

The tasting room is a LOT smaller than the one in Niagara, but still plenty of wines to try. Since time was running to run out though, I just tried 2 wines. The icewine and a gewurtzramminer. They were growing tempranillo, but had none on sample. They said I’d have to buy a bottle for $40… while I do love to support Canadian wines, I’m not supporting a science project and would prefer to get a Spanish Riojan Tempranillo at that price.

Anyways, the icewine was good, but felt a bit watery and not as intense/concentrated as the ones we have here. Still, I’m glad I got to try it though.

Next it was Road 13, which I’d seen here in ON but never actually got to try out. When asking about if they sold any wines in ON I got an earful but this isn’t a political trip report.


Looks a bit out of place...

Anyhoo, the winery has 2 tasting menu’s if you will. You have your standard run of the mill tasting wines for about $5 (6 wines) and then you have about a premium tasting for $10. Since this was (well originally) the 2nd last vineyard I was going to visit, and none of these are available in ON, I figured, let’s go premium!


Amazing view. Wish I'd have had time to relax and enjoy the wines.

Overall, the wines were all very good, but I LOVED the reds. Rich, full bodied and a good balance of acid and tannins, yet for the most part good enough to age to allow them to mellow out a bit more. While I was tempted to buy a bottle I didn’t and was really starting to regret picking up the Quail’s Gate the day before so I’d have had room for the Road 13, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the street to visit Burrowing Owl, so I decided to continue onto Osoyoos and call it a night, plus my teeth were starting to get purple and wanted to avoid any run-ins with the police. Let me be clear, I was spitting the past 2 days since I was driving. If it wasn’t on the counter, I’d ask for a spittoon.

About 30mins later I drove into Osoyoos and had another night at the Holiday Inn.

The Hotel was nothing spectacular, but the view was nice looking onto Lake Osoyoos. It looked like people could bbq, but since I was only there 1 night, didn’t ask about it.


The room. Almost the same as the one in W. Kelowna


Although the view was a lot nicer...

I had originally wanted to go visit a desert wildlife centre but didn’t arrive in time so that was out. I later went out to buy some dinner at the super market and then just enjoy a glass of wine overlooking the lake from the balcony.


Cheers!

I then got a little stir crazy and went for a walk along the lakeshore in the evening to get a few photos before calling it a night.






Osoyoos reminded me of Florida because there were so many seniors around, still with the landscape, I can’t say that I blame them. This is where the landscape and architecture REALLY started to remind me of photos I’ve seen or California and northern Mexico. Sorry, no photos since I was driving in the city at this time.

Anyways, the next day, it was time to get back to Vancouver to make my evening flight out and then back to reality. I took a different route back and made it back to Vancouver in about 4 hours. The lack of snow likely helped.


The road back to reality...

After dropping the car off and meeting up with my sister it was almost time to get back to the airport. Again, I have to give a massive thank you to Jumper Jack for providing me with a lounge pass and letting me have my first lounge experience! Gives me a small taste as to what everyone talks about.


A few snacks, but not really enough to make a meal out of.



Decent selection of spirits, but disappointed with the wines. 2 reds, 2 whites - meh at best. One of the reds was passable, but after having so many great wines, I stuck to port (night cap) and the spirits.

Overall it was a good trip and makes me wonder, why did I wait so long to go west? It’s so different, yet, it’s still the same country.


The Bird at the lounge entrance


Waiting to board

Final Conclusion
I didn’t do any wine tours (time was limited) and probably got to try about 70-80 wines all weekend which makes me yearn for more BC wines in the east here.

My main complaint (besides the snow) was that both Holiday Inn’s had marketing fees that were not listed on the website when booking. When your room fee goes up 15%, you start to reconsider and wonder if Airbnb wasn’t perhaps a better option. Anyways, I suppose if that’s my only complaint, then life isn’t too bad.

As for the Delta, the room was massive but it felt like the room as a whole is having a bit of an identity crisis. It's not quite Marriott, but not Holiday Inn. It's between the 2, but the prices (regular) are closer (or higher) than a Marriott. Perhaps it's because Marriott isn't sure where to place the brand? It's not a knock, just that it seems a bit confused as to where it belongs.
As for the club. it's simple, basic but you can easily make a breakfast out of it and the view is nice. You can even sit on the terrace (23rd floor) and eat there or have a drink.
Considering its around $40, I would say yes, it's worth the upgrade, but it's not very big and can feel packed fairly easily.
The service in the hotel in general was VERY good though. Staff was attentive and more than willing to help.

Besides, that, I did have to tell some wineries not to tell me tasting notes so that I could think up/come up with my own conclusions instead of being told what i SHOULD be picking up in the wines. Usually wasn't a problem, but Road 13 was a problem in that I had to ask twice to not be told until after I'd had my own conclusion.

Then again, there is a doxie on the label and wandering around from time to time.

Well thanks for reading and if anyone has any questions or comments please let me know and I’ll try to answer!

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 10, 16 at 8:41 pm
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Old Sep 10, 16, 10:16 pm
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FWIW, Dirty Laundry used to be called Scherzinger untl it was bought by the current owners and renamed. Lots of funny names being used for marketing.

Next time you're in town, if again, I have a few recs.

Vibrant Vines in "East" Kelowna had a great merlot when I tried it last year. Very fruity, big and without overly tannic from too muc extraction as I find most B.C. reds to exhibit. Just ignore the fancy 3-D labels as the wines can stand by themselves w/o that gimmick. Unfortunately the winery increased bottle price by well over $15.

Another one, big further away, is Privato on the north side of Kamloops. Not Okanagan but they have managed to source a pinot noir from the Vernon area. Best pinot noir I've had in B.C. Had the cherry nose and a good taste - something lacking in B.C. pinot noirs, and again not overly tannic as most.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 10:52 pm
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Nice to see some of the local area featured here on Flyertalk. I am a bit biased since I got married on the patio at Spirit Ridge at Nk'Mip winery in Osoyoos in September a few years back.

As you have aptly described, there are stacks of wineries to choose from. Raudz, as recommended upthread, also has a great reputation, although I tend to visit Bouchons in Kelowna proper when traveling to this area for work. The Old Vines Restaurant at Quails Gate is excellent, as is the patio at Mission Hill (seasonal).

Hope you come back soon!
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Old Sep 11, 16, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by iceblueshoes View Post
That means it will be 100% supersafe
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Old Sep 11, 16, 10:49 am
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I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world, but one thing I’ve always kept pushing aside and putting off is exploring more of my own country, ie. Canada.
I agree so much with this. Despite growing up in Canada and living there until high school I've visited about as many continents for vacation as I have cities in Canada. Vacations as a kid were always to outside the country and now other places just rank higher on the priority list, though with the USD/CAD exchange being what it is, now wouldn't be a bad time to come back.
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