The grape harvest has started.
The summer guests have packed up and left. All of the beach towels are washed and put away. Do we slow down here in the Okanagan? Not a chance. It’s time to enjoy autumn with a plethora of events, and perhaps welcome the next round of guests for a more subdued, light sweater weather, wine and cheese under a patio heater, kind of weekend.
The Okanagan is has celebrated the grape harvest for several decades with events designed to both enjoy the season and, in more recent years, give new and returning wine lovers a chance to take part in wine production. Those grapes you stomped for fun last year did not get into a bottle, but more and more wineries are inviting guests to join in on harvest work days by picking grapes, hiking through vineyards with grape growers, or other educational activities — even blending your own wine. We’re all keen to know where our food comes from these days, why not what’s in our glass?
If getting into the making of wine is not your thing, there are many ways to enhance your wine experience. Sign up for an event that teaches you how to swirl, sniff and sip your way to being an amateur sommelier. Learn the art of pairing the best foods with your favourite wine. Trust me, once you get into pairing, you’ll never look at that pinot and brie the same way again.
A good starting point is scrolling through the many offerings of the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, now in its 37th year. Signature events such as the B.C. Wine Awards reception, the WestJet Wine Tastings in Kelowna, and Cropped by Valley First in Penticton — a large scale wine tasting and farmers’ market in one — are great intros to get your festival rolling, before exploring more intimate events with wineries, chefs, and producers you want to learn more about.
With dozens and dozens of festival events throughout the valley, it pays to do advanced research – tip, pick a theme or region you want to explore – when you start putting together an itinerary. Visit: https://secure.thewinefestivals.com/events/index
Not all of the best events of autumn are part of the festival, though, but here’s a varied list to get you through the first few weeks of fall. Enjoy.
Save the Date: (click the links to find out more about each event)
Sept. 23, Kelowna: Appleooza, a farm-crafted cider festival, will be hosted by Scenic Road Cider Co with a number of B.C. cideries.
Sept. 29, Oliver: Guest chef Chris Irving of Banff’s Juniper Hotel and Bistro joins Chef Jeff Van Geest of Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek for Hops, Grapes, and Grub, a multi course dinner with Tinhorn wines and Cannery Brewing beer.
Sept. 30, Oliver: The 6th annual Garlic Festival comes to Hester Creek Estate Winery with crafters, food carts, and live entertainment, benefitting the Oliver Elementary School’s farm to table lunch program. http://www.hestercreek.com/
Sept. 30, Okanagan Falls: Wild Goose Vineyards hosts its 4th annual Beale Street Festival, a tribute to Memphis blues with a BBQ lunch and live music.
Sept. 30, Oliver: Celebrate the harvest with Covert Farms, starting with a farm tour, followed by a five-course al fresco dinner.
Sept. 30, Naramata: The 6th annual Barrel Bash comes to Misconduct Winery, with tapas from The Kitchen and a secret stash of wine.
Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, Penticton: Township 7 hosts its barrel blending seminars. Learn how to blend wine, and enjoy cheese and charcuterie.
Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, Penticton: The VQA Wine Info Centre hosts the Magic of Meritage with Harry McWatters of TIME Winery.
Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Oliver: The annual Festival of the Grape starts on Saturday with Cask & Keg, celebrating breweries, distilleries and cideries; on Sunday, take in the 21st annual Festival of the Grape featuring 50 wineries, food trucks and the grape stomp.
Oct. 1, Kelowna: CedarCreek hosts a Harvest Lunch; walk your way through the vineyard while doing a progressive food and wine tasting, followed by lunch.
Oct. 1, Summerland: Enjoy a fall pig roast at Evolve Cellars with live music by the Niki Martinus Project. Tickets include pig roast with selection of sides, salads and wine.
Oct. 3, Okanagan Falls: Join Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery for Harvest Work Day. Your chance to participate in the grape harvest, take a tour of the crush pad, barrel samples, and lunch.
Oct. 5, Oliver: Burrowing Owl Estate Winery celebrates 20 vintages at its annual Proprietors’ Dinner in the Sonora Room Restaurant a five-course dinner with library wines. https://www.burrowingowlwine.ca/b_event/celebrate-our-20th-vintage-at-our-annual-proprietors-dinner/
Oct. 6 and 7, Penticton: Part of the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, take in Cropped, B.C.’s largest wine tasting and farmers market, with live music and more.
Oct. 7, Okanagan Falls: Join Kitchen Sync Catering at Painted Rock to celebrate harvest with a hardy fall meal and wines.
Oct. 7, Penticton: Lang Vineyards on the Naramata Bench celebrates its version of Oktoberfest with authentic German food and live music.
Oct. 14, Kaleden: Flambe Catering tackles Oktoberfest at the historic 1912 with a gourmet Bavarian buffet, costume prizes, and beer from Cannery Brewing.
Oct. 21, Penticton: Tickets are on sale for Penticton’s Oktoberfest at the Trade and Convention Centre.
Oct. 21, Oliver: Hester Creek hosts a long table dinner with Chef Rod Butters, author of the new cookbook, An Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Cooking. Call 250-498-4435 ext 228 to reserve.
Oct. 13-30, Vernon: Take a road trip to Vernon for Dine Around Downtown, as ten restaurants prepare special three-course menus.