Last week, I posted the first part of my feature covering a few of the half dozen Okanagan vineyards that our media group had recently toured. Here’s part two of the feature.
Tantalus Winery is dedicated to sustainably grown vines. We found ourselves stepping foot on the first LEED certified winery building in BC. The winery also keeps bees.
With an imposing view over the Okanagan hillside, Tantalus produces Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. The winery is fierce proud of its three varietals; its philosophy is to keep things simple. We tasted all three.
The 2011 Riesling ($22.90) has a drier finish than a typical Riesling. It has a high natural acidity with sweetness to balance it out. It’s aged two years before release. Through the aging process, the primary fruit is able to show the riesling’s secondary characteristics.
Tantalus’ 2011 Rosé ($21.90) has a higher level of CO2 in order to lift the wine’s aromatics. I found a perfumey nose on this one. Their rosé is made with both Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes.
At $29.90, the Pinot Noir is nice and jammy. The more this wine breathes, the fuller it gets. We tasted a recent release of this varietal, one that spends a year in barrel and another six months in the bottle to complete the aging process.
We sat down for lunch in the barrel room, enjoying these wines with gourmet fixings, later being indulged by BC Wine Institute consultant Rhys Pender MW in a blind tasting session. The lunch was compliments of both the BC Wine Institute and Thompson Okanagan Tourism. It was hosted by Tantalus Operations Manager Jane Hatch and Winemaker David Paterson.
Tantalus Vineyards is located at 1670 DeHart Road in Kelowna.
Our final winery visit was to Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Another pioneering Okanagan winery, Summerhill was the first organic winery in BC. This year, the winery hopes to receive Demeter certification. This worldwide standard means absolutely no chemicals will be used in the growing, production, and manufacturing of the grapes.
The terroir is exceptional for Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. All three are grown here.
65 acres of organic vines, an awesome view of the lake and mountains, plus the famous pyramid all add up to the most visited winery in Canada. We met with CEO Ezra Cipes, who also mentioned that the first VQA meetings took place on this property. The original name of the winery was Pyramid Cellars, part of Stephen Cipes’ (Ezra’s dad) original vision for the winery to be a champagne house. Winemaker Eric VonKrosigk and Vineyard Manager Harold Gaudy round out the Summerhill team.
The Summerhill Pyramid, though significantly smaller than the Great Pyramid of Egypt (upon which it’s modeled after) matches its larger Egyptian cousin in both structure and shape. It’s aligned to absolute True North and contains no ferrous materials in it, meaning that it won’t risk being reoriented to magnetic north anytime soon.
What’s it like being inside that pyramid? We did climb up the stairs and sat down on a few seats, formed in a circle. Though the pyramid has been used for weddings and other special events, I felt relaxed inside, gazing up at the large crystal that’s wired at the top. I’d definitely recommend a visit to experience it for yourself. It’s also larger than it appears from the outside.
Another part of our visit included a wine paired dinner at the Sunset Organic Bistro.
We all ordered from Chef Jesse Croy’s Sip Into Sunset four course dinner with wine ($73; $48 without wine pairing).
My sablefish was delicious and flaky, with a dark crust and an assortment of fresh raw and perfectly cooked organic vegetables. Dessert was a generous slice of cheesecake served with warm plum preserves, together with a Zweigelt Icewine.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery is located at 4870 Chute Lake Road in Kelowna. Our dinner was compliments of both Summerhill Winery and Thompson Okanagan Tourism.