The Pinot Gris 2009 ($19.99) is an unoaked sipper with white peach, citrus, and melon aromas. It has a dry finish; while I appreciate a flavourful wine, I was ready to try something a tad sweeter.
Hillside’s Gewürtztraminer 2010 ($19.99) has that bit of off-dry character with lovely grapefruit and honeysuckle aromas at the nose. I enjoyed the tropical fruity combo in this wine. The winery is down to its last six cases for now (popular wine for summer patio enjoyment, I gather).
The Rose 2011 ($19.99) blends Merlot, Syrah, and Gamay grapes, grown in the Naramata Bench. It has a beautiful colour, with red cherry, raspberry, and rose petals on the palate. Perfect for seafood or poultry.
We also sampled three reds.
Merlot 2009 (19.99) has just been released. It’s got coffee, caramel, and cassis aromas with flavours of ripe cherry, local Damson plums, and just a hint of cocoa powder on the palate. The finish is soft and silky.
Cabernet Franc 2008 ($24.99) is aged in American oak, and is considered one of the great Bordeaux varietals. Cranberry and raspberry on the nose with flavours of mulberry and Montmorency cherry add to a full finish and satisfying wine. This one would work great with poultry or game.
Mosaic 2007 ($39.99) is Hillside’s signature wine, containing Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot grapes. I loved this deep and satisfying wine blend that I’d pair with a chowder as easily as a beef stew.
Hillside Winery and Bistro is located at 1350 Naramata Road in Penticton.
Lake Breeze Vineyards is a welcoming spot with an outdoor kitchen that got our tastebuds dancing all over again.
The location is sublime, and we were lucky to visit on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We started with Pinot Gris ($17.90), a light and spicy wine that’s garnered several awards for the winery.
Our next sampling was the same wine from two releases: Seven Poplars Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($19.90) and 2011 ($21.90). I found the 2010 a bit drier, while the 2011 had a delicious, more citrusy mouth to it. One year can really make the difference, all the more reason that the winery chose to pour us these two.
The Gewürtztraminer ($17.90) was delightful, containing rose petals, lychee, and a hint of spicy/sweetness that would marry well with medium-aged cheese, green apple, and toasted baguette on a picnic.
Seven Poplars Pinot Noir ($24.90) has a well-rounded cherry flavour and good earthy character to it, while the Meritage ($19.90) is a richer Cabernet Franc (55%), Merlot (30%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) and taste experience.
Lake Breeze Vineyards is located at 930 Sammet Road in Naramata.
Our final stop of the tour was at Township 7. Bradley Cooper was on hand to sample a handful of wines. Township 7 is unique in that it also has a Fraser Valley (South Langley) vineyard location, with a heritage 1930s building on site.
Township 7 is named after the South Langley community’s original name, “Township 7“. The Naramata location (including winery and tasting room) was opened in summer of 2004.
The Semillion 2008 ($12.99) is light, with melon, rose, and stone fruits on the palate, making it a nice entry point. The Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($18.99) was voted 2009’s Best Canadian Sauvignon Blanc (Wine Spectator Magazine). It has a crisp, spicy finish with gooseberry, passionfruit, and lime characteristics.
Giddy-up! Chardonnay 2009 ($19.99) is the official wine of the 100th edition of the Calgary Stampede. There’s already been hundreds of cases of this varietal shipped around Canada, and it’s for good reason. This Township 7 favourite sources grapes from four Chard vineyards, giving the winemakers the flexibility to create a champion. It’s barrel-aged for 10 months in both French and American oak.
We smelled vanilla, citrus, and a creaminess right at first smell. Tropical flavours combine with fresh berries, bringing about a nice long finish to (one of my favourite varietals) Township 7’s Chardonnay.
Rose 2009 ($15.99) blends Chardonnay and Gewürtztraminer, giving a sweet strawberry/spice combination to our palate. Grilled light meats would make this complete.
Merlot 2008 ($24.99) contains a tad (8%) of Cabernet Sauvignon as well, giving this unfiltered wine the plum, raspberry, and black cherry aromas and tastes, with hints of chocolate and caramel. Their merlot is grown in the Oliver area, with gravelly soils to introduce that region’s terroir to the experience.
Topping off our tasting was Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($25.99), one that spends 26 months in oak. We picked up dried bergamot herb, cocoa, and berries on the nose. This Cabernet adds a blend of 15% Cabernet Franc grapes adding to a fuller-bodied wine.
Township 7 is located at 1450 McMillan Avenue in Penticton and 21152 16th Avenue in Langley.
Top Cat Tours offer daily tours of Naramata Bench, Summerland, and South Okanagan wineries. It’s a comfortable way to enjoy a wonderful variety of sips responsibly. We had a very enjoyable experience and would gladly return to try another one of their tours in a different region.
In total, Top Cat covers over 120 Okanagan Valley wineries and several well-known restaurants. Prices range from $85/person (plus HST) to $115 (plus HST), with pick-up and return at your chosen location. Tours last between four and six hours, depending on group size, amount of time spent at each winery, etc.
Many thanks to David for showing us a great time and engaging us in a lot of food and wine-fueled conversation! Our tour was compliments of the Naramata Bench Winery Association.