Allison Markin is the food

Allison Markin is the food

MARKIN: Tastes of the Okanagan, more to explore

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

Back in the day, almost exactly half of my life ago, my writing career began at what was then the Penticton Western News-Advertiser.

My beat often included local festivals and events — my first assignment was to cover the Square Dance Jamboree — but with less than a dozen wineries around, there were few chances to write about wine.

How times have changed.

Then: I wanted to be a famous movie reviewer. Now: I happily return to the Penticton Western News to write about the growing food and libation scene in the South Okanagan, from wine, beer, and spirits, to cheese and charcuterie.

With the announcement this week that ENCORE Vineyards is developing the Okanagan’s first “urban winery,” complete with a tasting lounge and cultural performance space, downtown Penticton will soon be home to a working winery, mere steps from a distillery, and a few blocks away from some of the province’s best craft breweries.

Penticton is quickly developing into an off-the-beaten-path destination for food and wine lovers and tourists. It is a perfect central hub to head out to the wineries and distilleries of the Naramata Bench, unique clusters of wineries around Summerland, Okanagan Falls  and Keremeos to marvel at some of Canada’s best vineyards from Oliver to Osoyoos.

And our farm-to-table restaurants, patios and bistros are attracting chefs to come and develop world-class menus, expertly paired with wines, brews and cocktails. Not to mention a growing number of winery eateries that consistently win awards and make top 10 lists. If only this bounty existed during my summers as a travel counsellor.

From food trucks to winemaker dinners, there is much to explore and enjoy, and a calendar of events coming up this season that will make your head spin before you even lift a glass to your lips. Combine wine tasting with a casual bike ride, or reward yourself with a local gin and tonic after a stand-up paddle board lesson.

I personally can’t get to everything or try every wine; so welcome feedback or suggestions about your favourite flavours and activities, perhaps even a recipe created with local ingredients, or your take on a local chef’s signature dish.

It’ll be fun and fulfilling to explore the tastes of the Okanagan


April 28 to May 8: Spring Okanagan Wine Festival, events throughout the valley.

April 30:  Bacchanalia at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, Convention Centre and Casino.  $75 per person.

April 30 or May 7: Pinot and Pearls at Hillside Winery and Bistro. $25 per person.

May 1:  Johnny Cash “Walk the Line” Wine and Dine at Wild Goose Vineyards, $79 per person.

May 6-8: Devour Culinary Film Festival. Watermark Beach Resort, Osoyoos.

May 8:  Market of Taste Osoyoos, presented by Slow Food Thompson Okanagan. Watermark Beach Resort, Osoyoos.

Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. She can be reached at and on Twitter @OkanaganTaste.