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March 04, 2011
Truth and Rumours from the Okanagan
RUMOUR: The government licensing office has received 15 applications for new wineries in the Okanagan. That's on top of the dozen or so new ones already on the books to debut this year.
RUMOUR: Whistler restaurateur Andre St. Jacques (of Bearfoot Bistro) has been telling people he's thinking of opening a restaurant on the Meyer Family Vineyards property in Okanagan Falls. But then, aren't all chefs dreaming of an escape to the Okanagan these days?
RUMOUR: Waitstaff in restaurants are reporting as much as a 50% drop in tip income (based on total dining tabs) over the last six months since the new drinking and driving laws went into effect.
TRUTH: Thanks to the new drinking and driving laws, Okanagan wineries have been receiving renewed requests for wine in 1/2 size bottles. RUMOUR: A couple of top wineries are taking this seriously.
TRUTH: Miradoro, the new restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery, with chef Jeff van Geest at the helm, will be open for business as of April 1. Just in time for the annual spring Banee Festival.
Take a peek at the menu here. Yes, there's Pizza!
TRUTH: The hottest new wine varietal clone in North America right now is the 828 Pinot Noir Clone, and Quails' Gate Winery is growing it. Winemaker Grant Stanley is already using it for blending, and claims it adds an aromatic floral element (somewhat like violets) to the mix. At a recent winemakers' dinner at The Sutton Place Hotel, we had the opportunity to sample the Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir and found it to be a satin-y, fully-bodied Pinot, full of cherry/plum fruit flavours and a subtle yet exotic spiciness -- even a little hint of cardamom. At $59 it's one of the better Okanagan bottles in the price range.
TRUTH: Keeping in step with the growing culinary options in the Okanagan Valley, long time local publication, Wine Trails magazine, has renamed itself BC Food & Wine Trails.
TRUTH: Plenty of new developments are taking place at Hester Creek Winery -- New label designs, a new restaurant in the works, and a line up of spring cooking classes from their state-of-the-art kitchen that are bound to be the hottest tickets in the Valley this May. On the menu: Okanagan flavours and cuisine du terroir from Cameron Smith and Dana Ewert of Joy Road Catering; skill-sharpening tricks of the trade from Chef Walter Messiah of Vancouver’s Dirty Apron Cooking School; and globally-inspired, locally-fashioned fare from Chef Ned Bell of Kelowna’s Cabana Bar & Grille. We've a fan of the winery's reasonably priced Semillon Chardonnay. Read winescribe Jurgen Gothe's comments on the 2009 vintage here.
TRUTH: The Spring Okanagan Wine Festival is scheduled for April 29th to May 8th, and promises to be the biggest yet. Get an eyeful of the events schedule here.
TRUTH: Not from the Okanagan but in the wine category ... Cupcake Vineyards of Soledad, California is set to debut in BC liquor stores this month. Why that name?
According to the press release: "Cupcake Vineyards' wines are hand-crafted to be rich and decadent, with a smooth, creamy palate that creates a moment of luxury and pure pleasure... just like a cupcake." Yes, but will there be sprinkles?
Lastly ... how cute is this video? (See still photo above.) And how appropriate. RUMOUR: We hear there will be "Yoga in the Vineyards" classes this summer.