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.

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.

MARKIN: Time to fall for harvest in the South Okanagan

There’s always a day sometime in September when suddenly, it’s fall.

There’s always a day sometime in September when suddenly, it’s fall.

The best season of the year, as it’s still sandal season, paired with a light sweater, harvest begins, and the flavours of autumn emerge. Hello, pumpkin spice everything.

The grape harvest began a few weeks ago with cooler climate varieties, particularly those destined for bubbly. Many wineries have begun picking, and if you’re friends with a winemaker, vineyard manager, or “cellar rat,” don’t expect to see them till November. Or offer to feed them a nice dinner and catch up.

It’s also a good time of year for locals to visit the slightly less packed tasting rooms to stock up, sign up for wine clubs, enjoy fall menus at winery bistros, and ponder fall winefest events. Meanwhile, a few wines and suggested pairings to transition your tastebuds from the summer season.

Singletree Winery, Siegerrebe 2015: located in the Fraser Valley, these wines are worth seeking out, and this one, while a touch sweet on the palate, will remind most of a Gewürztraminer, only fuller bodied. This makes it a great white wine for fall. Pair with pork and apples, or an apple crisp.

Bench 1775, Merlot 2013: from the Naramata Bench, and while it can age for a few years, if you’ve started processing delicious Okanagan tomatoes for canning, sauces, or simply roast a few, the brightness of this wine is a good match, especially if you work some cheese into your dish.

Tinhorn Creek, Syrah 2013:  Also with aging potential, up to ten years from vintage, but perfectly drinkable on the first really cold evening of the year with the last grilled steak of the season. Peppery notes make this a good choice for a beef dish or stew.

See Ya Later Ranch, Jimmy My Pal 2015: A white blend, keep this handy for that warm, summer-like evening that will inevitably appear between now and Thanksgiving, inviting one more visit to the patio. Bring a plate of blue cheese, dried fruits and nuts, and fresh pear.

Save the date

Sept. 10, Summerland: First annual Summerland Feast of Farms, Dickinson Family Farm. Fundraiser for the expansion of a community garden in Summerland. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/summerland-feast-of-farms-tickets-26528802362

Sept. 17, The People’s Crafthouse:  Third annual Okanagan Harvest Party. Local ferments, craft soda available for purchase, $5 entry fee. The Harvest Party is a way to celebrate the change of the season and the food tradition of preserving at harvest time.

Sept. 17, Memorial Park, Keremeos:  Similkameen Sizzle, Canada’s hot pepper festival. Family fun all day, plus hot pepper themed competitions. similkameencountry.org/similkameen-sizzle/

Sept. 18, Penticton:  Small, artisan wine producers gather in Penticton for Garagiste North. Sample wines that are hard to find, made by the small guys. www.garagistenorth.com

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.