Three local wineries brought home two top awards each in this year’s Best of Varietal Wine Awards, as part of the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival which continues through this weekend.
Judged by the winemakers themselves in a blind tasting, the results of these awards are often quite different from those judged by professional wine judges for the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival.
Plus, the wines judged for the fall awards are not judged against each other within a varietal class to pick a top wine, but are simply judged on their own merits for gold, silver or bronze medals.
Sandhill, Gray Monk and Mission Hill Family Estate all brought home wins in two categories each this spring, while two other Central Okanagan wineries also each won the top award in one category—CedarCreek and The View.
In the mixed red varietal class, Sandhill’s 2008 Small Lots Malbec won, and The View Winery’s 2008 Pinotage was a finalist.
Sandhill’s 2009 Chardonnay also picked up the top award in that class, while sister winery Peller Estates’ 2009 Family Series Chardonnay was a finalist.
Another sister winery, Calona Vineyards’ 2010 Sovereign Opal, won the Mixed White Varietals category. All are owned by Peller Estates.
CedarCreek’s 2010 Ehrenfelser was a finalist in that category.
Gray Monk’s 2009 Unwooded Chardonnay took top place in that category, while Calona Vineyards’ Artist Series 2010 Unoaked Chardonnay was a finalist.
Gray Monk’s 2008 Odyssey White Brut won in the sparkling category as well.
Mission Hill Family Estate took first place in the red meritage blend category for its 2007 Quatrain, where Sandhill’s 2008 and 2009 Cabernet Merlots both were finalists.
In the viognier category, Mission Hill won with its 2009 Reserve Viognier, and its 2006 SLC Riesling Icewine was a finalist in the Icewine category.
CedarCreek’s 2010 Riesling was judged tops in that category, while The View’s 2010 Riesling was a finalist.
Both CedarCreek’s 2008 Platinum Syrah and Peller Estates’ 2008 Private Reserve Syrah were finalists in the Syrah category, and both CedarCreek’s and Sandhill’s 2010 Pinot Gris were finalists in the Pinot Gris category.
In the gewurztraminer category, both the 2010 Gewurztraminer from The View Winery and the 2009 one from Kalala Organic Estate Winery were finalists.
Central Okanagan wineries cleaned up in the Rose/Blush category, where The View’s 2010 Distraction Rose was picked as tops and CedarCreek’s 2010 Greata Ranch Rose, Arrowleaf Cellars’ 2010 First Crush Rose and Volcanic Hills’ 2010 Rose all were finalists.
The wine festival continues with tastings, wine pairing lunches and dinners, such as Mission Hill’s event Friday evening with guest chefs from two top Vancouver restaurants joining winery chef Matt Batey to present a multi-course menu paired with wines.
At Summerhill that same evening, neighbouring wineries CedarCreek, St. Hubertus and Tantalus join in to present Masquerave, which will include a glow-in-the-dark dance party in the pyramid with performances by Kinshira Fire Troupe. Wear black and white is the advice.
Then there’s cellar dinner dancing at The View Saturday and a modern medieval feast at Meadow Vista Honey Wines tonight.
Saturday, there’s also All You Need is Cheese, at the Okanagan Heritage Museum with wines paired with cheeses, and Sunday there’s the second Valley First Vintages in the Park at Father Pandosy Mission from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring food, wine and entertainment in the open air.
One of the festival’s organizers, Blair Baldwin, says 400 turned out each night of the WestJet Wine Tastings last weekend and wineries were busy over the weekend.
However, he does feel the cold spring has affected attendance generally at this year’s expanded spring festival.