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Okanagan Taste: Snow and wine combine

Over the course of the winter, most area ski hills feature libations and food events.
Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. Western News file photo

Over the course of the winter, most area ski hills feature libations and food events; great après-ski activities for those on the hill for a weekend, and a chance to learn about local wines, beers, and spirits for those who may be visiting, in one spot.

As well, it saves having to figure out who’s open.

Penticton’s hill, Apex Mountain Resort has welcomed the beer event Brewski (now sold out for this year) for awhile, and on March 4 welcomes Vertical and Vintages with the wineries of the Naramata Bench. It’s a good send off as the ski season starts to wind down in anticipation of spring and a great way to get a sneak peak at wine from the bench.

“We are excited to be partnering up with the Naramata Bench Wineries Association for the fifth year for this fun wine event and weekend at Apex,” said James Shalman, general manager at Apex Mountain Resort. “There are 20 wineries that are participating and will be showcasing a variety of their wines. It’s going to be a great weekend with participants able to play in some of the Okanagan’s freshest ‘champagne’ powder during the day and taste first-class regional wines at night.”

The Gunbarrel Saloon provides tapas-style bites. In past years there’s always a large cheese board and some sort of tasty little dessert mixed in with sliders and other small bites to keep you going. To complete the Vertical and Vintages evening, there is the after party with live music and dancing with Naramata’s favourite party band, UnCorked.

As for the wines? Over the winter, your favourite winery has probably had its bottling line going for whites and rosés, soon to be released for spring. While up on a snowy mountain it may seem odd to taste typically lighter styles, it can be good prep work for winery visits to purchase a few bottles once they are on the shelves. And, you may be able to brag that you are one of the first to taste an upcoming release.

Of course, after a day of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and general winter fitness, you may be more in the mood for hearty reds; there are plenty of those as well. Nearly two dozen wineries spread out over two adjoining rooms — plenty of choices whether you’re looking for favourite wine, or wanting to try a few sips from the Naramata Bench for the first time.

The evening wraps up with live music in the saloon, and dancing if you still have some energy. Lift and accommodation packages are available so you can make it a weekend.

For more information visit

Save the date:

Feb. 18 and 19 — Great Estates of the Okanagan: Celebrate family day(s) with wine and food pairings, and wine discounts at Sumac Ridge, See Ya Later Ranch, Nk’Mip Cellars, Inniskillin and Jackson Triggs.

Feb. 11 to 19 — Vancouver: Vancouver International Wine Festival. This year’s theme country is Canada; if you’ve never been to any of the dozens and dozens of events, this is the year to go.

Feb. 21 and 28 — Kelowna: Salsa and Wine at Summerhill, each Tuesday in February, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. A four-week course, but drop-ins/social dancers welcome. Call 250-870-7725 or 250-938-3508.

Feb. 25 — Kelowna: Collaboration Beer Dinner at BNA Brewing, featuring dinner by RauDZ and Micro, with proceeds going to the B.C. Cancer Foundation. Tickets $60 plus tax are available at BNA.

March 11 — Grab your pearls and feathers because there is a swinging new joint in town. The Sicamous Stern Wheeler will host swing-dancing with prohibition themed antics at The Great Gatsby Party. Proceeds go directly to the SS Sicamous Society. For more information call 250-492-0403.

April 7 to 8 — Okanagan Fest of Ale has a record number of brewers set to participate in the two-day festival at the Penticton Convention Centre. For more information visit

On the 30th of each month — CedarCreek Estate Winery: Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017, CedarCreek hosts free tastings paired with small bites.

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