Tis the season to plan your schedule for the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, which begins Sept. 29 and runs to Oct. 9, with events, winemaker dinners, tastings, seminars — you name it, across the entire Okanagan Valley.
Taking place in the midst of the grape harvest, but when tasting rooms are hopefully a wee less crowded than in the summer, it can be difficult to plan your calendar, so here are a few highlights.
Several events in the Oliver-Osoyoos area have combined to create the Wine Capital Festival Weekend on Oct. 1 and 2: the Hester Creek Garlic Festival at Hester Creek Winery on Oct. 1t; Cask & Keg, also on Oct. 1, an evening event celebrating craft distilleries, breweries, and cideries; and the well-known Festival of the Grape on the Oct. 2, a day of wine tastings, live entertainment, and food trucks. The latter is Oliver’s largest outdoor festival. Info: www.oliverosoyoos.com
Cropped, presented by Valley First, takes place in Penticton on Oct. 7 and 8, and is now the province’s largest wine tasting and farmers’ market, with 80 wineries, a “pinot” bar, onsite cheese seminars, live music and buskers. Bonus: a full onsite wine store.
If you need a break from wine, visit Maple Leaf Spirits on the Naramata Bench for Awakening Spirits. This craft distillery produces beautiful fruit brandies and liqueurs, the view all the way over to Apex Mountain on a clear day is stunning, and if you’re lucky, Marley the property’s resident rooster, will say hello. Info: www.mapleleafspirits.ca
Also on the Naramata Bench, Oct. 8 is Roll Out the Barrels, a behind-the-scenes chance to taste wine straight from the barrels. Join the winemakers and be the first to sample wines before they reach the bottle. Info: www.naramatabench.com
From Evolve Cellars in Summerland, you can clearly see the vineyards across the lake, and toast the fall harvest at their Bubbly Release Party — there’s a white and a pink — on Oct. 6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy some canapes and live music. Info: www.evolvecellars.com
And on the opposite end of the wine spectrum, make sure you visit Kraze Legz Vineyard and Winery in Kaleden for their very limited release of Rogue, a tawny port style wine. It’ll be gone before you can say crushpad. Info: www.krazelegz.com
For more events, online tickets, accommodation info for the out-of-towners, pick up a festival guide at a winery or local wineshop, or visit www.thewinefestivals.com.
Save the date:
Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, Penticton Fall Fair: Meet at Gyro Park in Downtown Penticton, celebrate everything Penticton has in store for fall. Hay maze, pumpkin patch, and more. www.downtownpenticton.org
Oct. 1, 17-Year Tasting of Nota Bene, Black Hills Estate Winery: Winery tour and a 17-year vertical tasting of this iconic red wine, each vintage from 1999 to 2014, plus a barrel sample. $175 per person, call 250-498-0666.
Oct. 2 Harvest Lunch, CedarCreek Estate Winery: walk through the vineyard while enjoying a progressive food and wine tasting, followed by a three-course wine-paired farm to table lunch. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oct. 8, Harvest Dinner, Painted Rock: Painted Rock welcomes fellow winery Noble Ridge for a dinner prepared by BRODO’s Chef Paul Cecconi, $140 per person. www.paintedrock.ca
Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. She can be reached at Allison@AllSheWrote.ca and on Twitter @OkanaganTaste.