Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. Western News file photo

Okanagan Taste: Renegade winemakers take over

“Garagistes” will be taking over Penticton’s Canadian Tire parking lot on Sunday

This Sunday, the garagistes of the Okanagan take over Penticton’s Canadian Tire parking lot. What is a garagiste? And why a parking lot?

Garagiste (gar-ah-jeest) originally refers to a group of winemakers in the Bordeaux region of France, producing “vins de garage” or “garage wine.” They were renegade small-lot winemakers, sometimes working in their garage — hence a parking lot is the perfect venue — who refused to follow industry laws and protocol.

With four years and six festivals under its belt, Garagiste North returns to Penticton to with a unique taste of the future of wine country. The first of its kind in Canada, Garagiste North “The Small Producers” Wine Festival, celebrates the artisan winemaker creating commercially produced small case lot wines (under 2000 cases).

An eclectic group, these winemakers typically fly just under the radar, and many of these wines are exclusive and hard to find. Wineries to watch, that are new garagistes: Crescent Hill, Forgotten Hill Wine Co., Liber Farm, Savard Vines, Off the Grid Organic Winery, and Schell Wines, the latter a new winemaking venture for festival co-founder and author Jennifer Schell.

The Garagiste pop-up wine store will be on site so tasters can fill their baskets with their favourites before they leave, and partial proceeds from the event will benefit the Garagiste North Wine Study Scholarship at Okanagan College, helping people follow their dreams into the wine industry.

Tickets are $49, and include tastings plus a grilled cheese sandwich or smokie from Peter Ze German food truck. And a chance to brag about tasting wines that your friends will have to track down.

Save the Date

August 26, Okanagan Falls: See Ya Later Ranch hosts the Taste of the Okanagan Outdoor Festival, part of Chef Meets BC Grape, an afternoon of food and wine, seminars, chef demos, and celebrity chefs. https://www.chefmeetsbcgrapeokanagan.com/tickets/

August 27, Naramata: Chef Victoire Bongo of the Naramata Heritage Inn teams up with Upper Bench Winery and Creamery for a long table dinner. https://www.facebook.com/events/1598896806807897/

August 24-27, South Okanagan: A number of locations host events for the first Chef Meets BC Grape in the Okanagan. https://www.chefmeetsbcgrapeokanagan.com/

August 27, Penticton: Garagistes North, a wine festival for small (hard to find) producers, returns with grilled cheese sammies and smokies, a true “garage” experience. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/garagiste-north-the-small-producers-wine-festival-penticton-tickets-32542269805o

August 31, Summerland: Live music at Okanagan Crush Pad, featuring Theresa Pasaluko Music. https://okanagancrushpad.com/events/

September 1, Cawston: Hosted by Crowsnest Vineyards, enjoy Pizza Night and the Rowdy Spurs country music bands. Reservations: 250-499-5129 http://www.crowsnestvineyards.com/

September 2, Okanagan Falls: Meyer Family Vineyards presents a Harvest Dinner with Joy Road Catering, an annual family-style dinner with wine pairings. http://www.mfvharvestdinner2017.eventbrite.com/

September 9, Summerland: The 2nd annual Feast of Farms takes place at Dickinson Family Farm, with BRODO Kitchen. A fundraiser for Summerland Secondary School bursaries. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2nd-annual-summerland-feast-of-farms-tickets-34683887441?aff=efbevent

Wednesdays, West Kelowna: Every Wednesday through September 6th, Quail’s Gate hosts its Dinner in the Vineyard series, four courses plus wine. https://www.quailsgate.com/

Sundays, Keremeos: On select Sundays through to mid-October, head to the historic Grist Mill at Keremeos for its Sunday Dinner series, with themed menus. http://www.oldgristmill.ca/events/

Wednesdays, Naramata Bench: The Naramata Heritage Inn features Tiki Night beginning at 7pm every Wednesday this summer, with local songstress Yanti, and the cuisine of Ambrosia by Chef Victor Bongo. https://naramatainn.com/ambrosia-restaurant-lounge/

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