Immerse in Okanagan wine culture at Wine+ Boot Camp

Combine an intensive week of wine-tasting, education and culture in the Okanagan.

Wine educator Rhys Pender

Wine educator Rhys Pender

Spending a week in the Okanagan is a good idea at the worst of times. But combining that with an intensive week of wine-tasting, education and culture, well, it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend your time.

This concept is exactly what Rhys Pender is offering at Wine+ Boot Camp, coming up in late April. Twenty people will gather at the Walnut Beach resort in Osoyoos to immerse themselves in wine culture for a week and leave with internationally certified wine education. Along with taking the internationally certified Level 2 Award in Wine & Spirits course from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

“That’s sort of what we were thinking when we launched this. Why not come up for a week in wine country?” said Pender. “It’s a nice time of year when spring is hitting. Take a course as well, but also get to visit a few wineries. There is a bit of free time built into it for people to go out and do their own thing as well.”

The classes, said Pender, draw a variety of wine aficionados, including many associated with the wine trade like restaurateurs, winemakers and wine shop owners, and wine sales reps.

“And then you get the people that are interested in wine. It’s always nice to get an international qualification at the end, even if it is for your own interest,” said Pender, who expects that since this is the first boot camp he has offered, it will draw more from the general public.

“I think this one will be less trade and more public,” he said. “We have some people coming up from Vancouver to take it. That’s what we were thinking when we launched this.”

Guests will travel to Walnut Beach Resort on April 8 and mornings from Tuesday to Friday will be spent with noses in glasses and heads in textbooks learning the wonders of the wine world. Saturday is exam day for the Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits course from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. While there is Level 1 course, Pender thinks most people will be comfortable taking the Level 2 course as long as they have some familiarity with wines. Level 2, Pender said, focuses on the differences between the major grape varieties grown around the world, where they grow and what they taste like.

“There is a bit on winemaking and grape growing and there is quite an in-depth tutorial on tasting technique, so they get a really good overview of how to taste wine,” said Pender. “Then, we are going to be tasting wines from all over the world. We will probably try about … 50 to 60 wines and spirits over the course.”

Along with the classroom work, Pender said there will also be three themed wine expeditions run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons to area wineries and vineyards.

Through the Wine and Spirit education trust … we just thought to do that program in a bit of a fun and different way. Just to include a trip to wine country. We are doing three visits in the afternoon to wineries and vineyards.

“We wanted to try something a bit different and give students more of an experience than they would get in a typical classroom,” said Pender. “It also gives an opportunity for those not based in the Okanagan to travel in for the week and take the WSET Level 2 course.”

Registration for the event closes March 27 and more information, including costs can be found at