Spring Wine Fest uncorks this weekend

After watching their vines sleep for months, local winemakers are ready to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Coordinator Allen Tozer pours a sample glass of wine for guests attending the announcement of winners at Thursday's start of the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Coordinator Allen Tozer pours a sample glass of wine for guests attending the announcement of winners at Thursday's start of the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

After watching their vines sleep for months, local winemakers are ready to celebrate the arrival of spring.

The Spring Okanagan Wine Festival began Thursday evening and runs until May 8 with hundreds of wine and food events throughout the valley.

Kicking off the event was the announcement of the award winning wines from the 2011 Best of Varietal judging competition held at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Thursday.

The Okanagan Wine Festival Society has at least 101 members, bringing many of the region’s finest wines at venues all throughout the region.

Christina Ferreira, one of the festival organizers said the combination of unique first-time events along with traditional favourites, add up to an exciting 10-day Okanagan Wine Festival.

“This Spring, we’ll see a lot of new events throughout the entire region, and many new wineries to explore in B.C. Wine Country as they open their doors at the start of the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival,” said Ferreira.

On May 1 Local Lounge Grille and Summerland Greenhouses are partnering to bring a truly authentic farm to table dining experience. A five course dinner crafted by Executive Chef Paul Cecconi will be served in the natural beauty of a greenhouse.

Food, grown specifically for this culinary event, is paired with award winning wines from neighbouring Summerland Bottleneck Drive wineries. Tickets are $99 plus taxes and found online at www.thelocalgroup.ca.

The Penticton Lakeside Resort invites the public to spoil their senses and indulge in Bacchanalia featuring 50 Okanagan wineries and a variety of dynamic and exotic tastes prepared by Executive Chef Chris Remington and his culinary team. Meet with vinters, try new products and have the opportunity to try over 200 wines. The event is held on May 7 and tickets are available at the front desk of the hotel or by calling 250-493-8221.

Take a cruise on Okanagan Lake with a wine and food event served aboard the Casabella Princess. On May 1 and from May 6-8, a selection of the finest Okanagan wines will be paired by the culinary offerings of Joy Road Catering.

The wine steward will unveil the secrets of wine tasting and food paring. The cruise takes you from Penticton Marina to a trip along the Naramata benches and reservations can be made at www.casabellaprincess.com.

Sip and sample your way through Nk’Mip Resort on April 30 as they pair their finest award winning wines with a selection of freshly prepared local cuisine at different stations throughout the resort. The event is both indoors and outdoors and features an array of local aboriginal artists.

Celebrate Mothers Day at Hillside Estate Winery and Bistro in Naramata for a brunch featuring Executive Chef Robert Cordonier’s new spring menu and a menu available for children under 12.

Even though the festival is in its 17th year, there are still new events featured. Festival organizers Blair Baldwin and Ferreira said they’re really looking forward to staging the WestJet Wine Tastings in the Rotary Centre for the Arts this year in Kelowna.

Because it’s a larger facility than either the Delta Grand or the Laurel Packinghouse, where it’s been held in the past, and it’s a different shaped space, it will be possible now to set up wineries that are physically grouped, together at the tasting.  For instance, the Naramata wineries will be located in the same area as will the Summerland wineries.

The WestJet Wine Tastings is held on April 29-30 and will feature more than 50 wineries with more than 180 wines to sample. The ticket includes a souvenir wine glass, breads and cheeses and a free taxi ride home.

For more details on festival events including dates, times and ticket prices go to the website www.thewinefestivals.com.

Follow The Okanagan Wine Festivals on Twitter @OKWineFests or on Facebook at Okanagan Wine Festivals for updates.