After decades of wildly popular wine festivals in the Okanagan, the Okanagan Wine Festival Society is starting over with its summer festival — morphing it into a valley-wide 10-day-long, outdoor wine-tasting event.
And, organizer Christina Ferreira believes it could end up being the most popular off all of the four wine festivals that highlight each of the seasons.
“Summer in the Okanagan is an easy sell,” she commented.
Along the way, the intent is to bring visitors to the valley, not only to patronize the businesses that are members of the wine festival society, but also all of the other attractions and services in the valley.
The first couple of weeks in July are generally slow, so the idea is to bump up the rubber tire traffic into the valley from centres such as Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
In Penticton, traffic will already be heavy with the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx taking place and a provincial soccer tournament. The Granfondo is hosting its own wine tasting event at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre from 5 to 8 p.m. with cycling celebrities. Over 300 wines will be available for sampling along with cheeses and breads to cleanse your palate. A portion of the proceeds from the evening will got to the Axel Merckx youth Development Fund. Tickets are $59 and are available online at www.valleyfirsttix.com.
A charity fundraiser supporting the One Person Project and Raise a Reader occurs on July 13, poolside at the Ramada Inn. The Battle of the Benches is the place to try the best of each growing region in the Okanagan at a wine tasting event. Tickets are $40 and there will be a silent auction and a draw for a instant wine cellar valued at $750.
On July 15, the All You Need is Cheese and Wine beach party will take place at the Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos. Hosted by the Dairy Farmers of Canada guests will be treated to a unique evening on the beach to enjoy spectacular views, visit with friends and be entertained by great wines, dairy cheeses, pizza and music.
Valley residents are encouraged to become ambassadors for the valley by inviting friends and relatives to visit during the festival, July 8 through 17, so there’s something different for everyone to do together during the visit.
Ferreira admitted this is a completely re-vamped version of the summer festival, which has been entirely focussed on Silver Star Resort for the past decade.
All the wineries will have their tasting rooms open and there will be events up and down the valley, from summer wine and cheese beach parties to barbecues.
The redesigned festival is in partnership with tourism organizations throughout the valley.
For details, pick up a brochure at tourism centres or where wine is sold, or go to the society’s website at www.thewinefestivals.com.