Diary Entry #35 - Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 - Part 1

I just got back from the Wine Blogger Conference that was held here in BC. It was held Pentiction BC from June 6-8th, 2013. I was fortunate enough to attend the pre-excursion which was held in Kelowna from June 5-6th, 2013.

Kelowna Tourism organized the pre-excursion and it included accommodations at Hotel Eldorado and three wine tours. We visited Summer Hill Pyramid Winery, Tantalus Vineyeards and CedarCreek Estate Winery.

On Wednesday night we went to Summer Hill Pyramid Winery for dinner and a tour. They are Kelowna’s only certified organic and biodynamic winery. They actually have a pyramid on their property that they age some of their wines in. We were able to go inside the pyramid and check out their vineyard. They have some really awesome philosophies and ways of doing business, growing/farming their grapes and producing their wines.

We met with their wine maker, Eric Von Krosigk, as well as, Gabe Cipes, who is in charge of heading up the biodynamic and permaculture aspects of the winery.

We had a great five-course dinner at Summer Hill. The food was amazing! And it was all sourced locally or from their own property. I really loved their sparkling rose wine as well as their sparkling brut. Summer Hill is very well known for their sparkling wine and has won several awards for it. I recommend checking them out if you do see them on a wine list or available at a restaurant.

One of the courses that really stood out at Summer Hill was the dessert (to be honest it was hard to choose a favorite course though). They served us a ‘Chocolate Duo’, which consisted of a chocolate gelato ice wine float and a raspberry dark sacher cake. YUM! I definitely am going to be having ice cream with my ice wine in the future. It likely will not nearly be as good as what was served to us at the winery, but I’m still going to try it anyways!

The next morning we went to Tantalus Vineyards for breakfast. Chef, Mark Filatow who is the owner of Waterfront Restaurant and Wine Bar in Kelowna, prepared the breakfast. Chef Filatow has numerous accolades in the food industry and is very well known and respected among his peers. We enjoyed fresh waffles, house-made granola and yogurt, poached egg on top of a potato rosti with white pepper gravy along with house made bacon. The dessert was a chocolate croissant. They served this with their 2010 Old Vine Riesling Natural Brut sparkling wine. Great way to start the day!

Tantalus Vineyards is Kelowna’s first LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certified winery. They are also a single vineyard winery. Meaning that all of their wines are produced from grapes grown on their property. Not many wineries in the Okanagan are single vineyards wineries, so this is something that makes them unique. They are really into their sustainability programs and are in the process of transitioning into an organic and biodynamic winery as well.

The grape varietals that Tantalus Vineyards specialize in are Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They use to grow other varietals there but they found that these three grape varietals are the ones that did the best on their land. So that is all they grow currently.

Another thing that is interesting about these wines is their labeling. Each wine has a unique mask on them. These mask are made by a famous Master Carver named, Dempsey Bob. The owner of Tantalus, Eric Savics actually has the largest private collection of Dempsey Bob’s native mask carvings and so they have wonderful partnership. If you are in Kelowna, I recommend checking out this vineyard as several of the masks are on display in the tasting room. Dempsey Bob also has his artwork/carvings in the Vancouver Airport, the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology, as well as, The Smithsonian. So he is a very well respected artist and these masks are quite special and unique to Tantalus Vineyards and their wine.  

I also wanted to say that we tasted their 2012 Riesling and it was delicious! I really loved their 2010 vintage, but I think their 2012 vintage is even better! I think it’s available in BC liquor stores now so if you do see it, I would grab a bottle and try it.

After Tantalus Vineyards, we went to CedarCreek Estate Winery for lunch (yes, more eating and drinking). There they had set up different food stations throughout the vineyard that we had to hike though to get to, so that was pretty cool (and good to work off some of the calories from all the food and drinking we were doing). Their vineyard over looks Lake Okanagan, so it was beautiful to take in the scenery as well as the fabulous food and wine.

At CedarCreek they age some of their wine in giant concrete eggs. These eggs hold 10 times the amount of a single barrel. This allows the wine to have the texture of oak with out the flavors of oak. I’ve never seen a concrete egg before, I know they are pretty common but since it was my first time, I thought it was pretty cool so I had to mention it.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Kelowna. I thought each winery we visited was unique and special in their own unique way. As well, I was impressed by their desires to be organic, biodynamic and sustainable. More wineries (or people for that matter) should be conscious of their environmental footprint, so it was nice to see that they were trying to minimize theirs as much as possible.

Stay tuned for my next video that I’ll be posting as it will be covering off the rest of the conference in Pentiction. I also did film some footage while I was there, so I may do a blooper reel of that footage so keep an eye out for that!

Thanks for watching and as usual, may the beauty you love be what you do.