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

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

MARKIN: Summer school for Okanagan foodies

An array of libation and food education classes are starting up in the Okanagan.

The kids are getting ready to wind down the school year, but this the time for everyone else — of legal age, of course — to start signing up for an array of libation and food education classes. And by education, I mean no homework or exams, and the classroom is likely to be a vineyard or a kitchen.

Before finding the right seminar, it’s important to get your textbooks. This Saturday afternoon Bench 1775 Winery, home to one of the best views in the entire Okanagan, hosts the book launch party for two Okanagan-themed page-tuners:  The Butcher, the Baker, the Wine and Cheese Maker in the Okanagan by Jennifer Schell, and Food Artisans of the Okanagan by Jennifer Cockrall-King. Consider these required reading this summer, with a glass of wine and a bite of local cheese.

Okanagan College offers a number of classes on our local fare, from wine pairings to edible gardening to more formal courses on wine sales and winemaking, for those who may wish to take a hobby into a career in the wine industry.

For the aspiring gourmet, a cooking class at Hester Creek Estate Winery in Oliver is a must-do, though the chef generally does all of the actual cooking while you relax with about a dozen other aspiring chefs and take it all in.

Backyard Farms, the inspired farm-to-table work of Chef Chris Van Hooydonk, features events as well as private cooking classes, set amongst 50 heritage variety fruit trees on the property. Based on an approximate four hour timeline, groups up to 10-12 guests can be hosted for an intimate and informal cooking demonstration. Perhaps a corporate team-building session is in order?

Speaking of trees, the Grist Mill and Gardens at Keremeos is surrounded by an abundance of them, not to mention pastoral gardens and a babbling brook. Workshops are in development for this season, in addition to a concert series, but a visit and tour is an education unto itself.

And finally, just in time for Father’s Day, CedarCreek Estate Winery in Kelowna is offering King of the Grill classes this summer. Take the guy in your life for BBQ class. Classes include information on selecting the finest cuts, mastering marinades and seasoning, wine pairings and unique grilling techniques.

Sign up for something smart and tasty.


May 21: The Launch of Two Amazing Books, 2pm, Bench 1775 Winery

May 22:  Grand Opening, Howling Moon Craft Cider, 5pm, 7952 Highway 97, Oliver

May 29: Spotlight on Sauvignon Blanc and Spot Prawn Festival, 2pm, SS Sicamous. Tickets are $49.

May 31:  FoodFlicks, 6pm at Okanagan College, Penticton, presented by FarmFolk CityFolk. Tickets are $20 ($10 kids) and include dinner.

June 10: Okanagan Falls Winery Association Spring Social, Liquidity Winery, $60. Tickets must be purchased online in advance at


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