27 July 2009

Wineries and Winners Made with Love


Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Burrowing Owl Estate Winery with the kidlets L'il Burnt Toast and The Boy who took me there for a birthday adventure. Touring the valley's wine country, a hilly patchwork of desert, orchards, vineyards, and a myriad of lakes...is always an adventure!!!! Along the occasionally rugged roads, there are dozens of public beaches and countless seasonal farm stands selling fresh cherries, apples, pears, and peaches, as well as pies and preserves. Burrowing Owl Winery is in the South Okanagan near the town of Oliver. With the strains of music you could imagine yourself in Tuscany with wave after wave of vineyards mesmerizing you. We had a lovely lunch pictured above beginning with a shared plate of local artisan cheeses and fruits.




Through our warm and lovely valley runs a long, deep lake purportedly inhabited by a serpentine monster called Ogopogo. The chain of lakes creates an eco-climate conducive to creating one of the world's most vibrant wine regions, a place where vintners are experimenting with many different varietals.

In 1988, there were a dozen or so Okanagan wineries; today there are more than 100, many producing world-class wines that are entirely different in character from what you find in other Western regions. The Okanagan is along the same latitude as Germany and France but shorter in history.

For most of its history, fabulous fruits, especially apples, were the Okanagan's main claim to fame. Do you remember receiving British Columbia apples from the Sears catalogue? The valley's first winery, founded in 1932, produced apple wine. A few years later, it switched to local grapes, hardly a major improvement, as most of the area's grapes were labrusca hybrids. Labrusca grapes, such as the Concord, make a dynamite purple jelly, but not a good dry table wine. For that, you need vinifera grapes...chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, syrah.....among a few.

In the 1960s and '70s, efforts were made to introduce vinifera grapes to the region, but little changed until 1988, when Canada agreed to drop trade barriers against imports. Since the valley's abysmal wines could never compete with those of France or California, the government paid people to replant their vineyards with vinifera. History was born!!!!!

In the end, two-thirds of the valley's vineyards were replanted and table grapes are hard to find. In the early '90s the number of wineries began to grow, as vintners from Germany, France, California, Switzerland, New Zealand, and even other Canadian provinces began discovering what the Okanagan has to offer and might do as well as other wine regions—and what it might do better. So far, this much is clear..... in the hot, southern portion of the valley, wineries are having surprising luck with reds like merlot and syrah. But the Okanagan's true rising star is pinot gris, a creamy, fruity white varietal also produced in the Alsace region of France.

And then there's the valley's most celebrated offering—ice wine. Invented in Germany in 1794, this intense, gorgeous nectar is made by leaving grapes on the vine through a frost, after which they are promptly picked and pressed. Water, in the form of ice granules, stays in the press and what goes into the fermenter is the sweet essence of grape. Optimal weather conditions can never be assured, so true ice wine is a real treat. You'll probably pay more than $50 for a tall, skinny bottle of ice wine; just about every Okanagan winery makes its own signature variety.

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On another note...... The winners of last weeks draw are....
Kaitlin of Kait's Plate.
Congratulations ladies!!!!!!

For the last 4 weeks Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch and I have been alternately cooking up some recipes using our collection of Made with Love Eco-friendly Spice Blends. These products are of exceptional quality and we are pleased to be able to giveaway new SpiceBlends each week due to the generosity of Alex and Colin over at Made With Love. Each week we have been giving away a different couplet or trio of Spice Blends Gift Sets to you our readers generously supplied by Made With Love a local eco-friendly company. Simply find the weeks chosen "search and find image" and enter to win!!!

So far, revisit Creamy Asparagus Soup with a Touch of Dill made with the Daring Dill Spice Blend and Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Ricotta and Feta made with their Pesto Garlic Spice Blend, Barbequed Shrimp made with Red Pepper Blend and this week......check out Shelby's Chicken Penne Prima Vera put together this week with the Prima Vera Spice Blend . Perfecto!!!!


To win this week:

1) Visit their web site http://www.madewithlove.ca/ and find the image/photo "The Long Tall Laugh" for this weeks entry and enter to win.

2) Leave a comment at madewithlovecontest(AT)gmail(DOT)com where you found the image/photo"The Long Tall Laugh". Please let us know your blog URL so that we can post the names of the winners on our sites with a link back to you!!!

3) You will be automatically entered to win a Made With Love Eco-friendly Spice Blends Gift Set. This weeks winners will receive TWO Earth-Friendly Gift Set Couplets of Prima Vera and Garden Curry Regular-Size SpiceBlends worth $40.

4) Visit Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch this week to see her delicious chicken dish using the Prima Vera Spice Blend or here at More Than Burnt Toast at the beginning of each week for a delicious recipe and a new chance to win!!!

5) The lucky winners who receive their Couplet of Spice Blends will create a recipe using their products, blog about it with a link to http://www.madewithlove.ca/ . All of the recipe creations will be posted as a roundup on The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch and here on More Than Burnt Toast. Your recipe may even be on the Made with Love website!!!!

Shelby and I love these spice blends and you will too!!! Tell a friend!!!!
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27 comments:

  1. Sounds like an absolutely perfect day to me. Thanks for all the info on the development and growth of the local wineries. I learned something about grapes.

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  2. Your winery visit sounds like a lot of fun! We love to visit wineries and do wine tastings when we have a chance and we also love ice wine!

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  3. Next time I go back west to your ciuntry, Im so heading there. Wish we could have done it on our last trip.

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  4. You would love the accomodations in this are at the Burrowing Owl or at Hester Creek Vineyard Courtney:D I hope you have the opportunity.

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  5. You also live in a beautiful country!!!! Breathtaking actually!!!

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  6. Congrats to the winners! That place looks so beautiful! What great food too!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. Val,
    What a beautiful area you live in. I would love ot visit it there one day.

    Also, I'm excited about winning those spices. I can't wait to use them. Thanks!

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  8. Such a fabulous place. It looks very serene!

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  9. Wineries are some of my favorite places to visit/tour!! This is beautiful!

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  10. I'll have to visit that place. You are reminding me to place my order for the spices. Everything you made looks so good.

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  11. One day Val I will get to that beautiful valley. I can't wait.

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  12. It is beautiful here, and don't forget to enbter to win the spiceblends (a different spice spend couplet or trio every week for a total of 6 weeks)

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  13. Thanks for the history on the vineards! It sounds like a lovely place and it's right in our backyard! That cheeseplatter looks divine! I like dried fruits so much!

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  14. Great post and congrats to the winners!

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  15. What a lovely winery, Val. I've always wanted to try Icewine, but given the prices, it will probably stay as one of those "one of these days when my ship comes in" kind of things.

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  16. Ice wine sounds intriguing. I really enjoyed reading about interesting "wine facts", and your trip sounds like one you will remember for a long time.

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  17. Gorgeous pictures! I've always wanted to try ice wine.

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  18. Sounds like a fantastic day! Wineries are always fun to visit and I wish they had some here...

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  19. We are so used to buying Niagara wines as they are close by and very good - I always forget that BC has excellent wines too. I will have to try some soon.

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  20. Looks beautiful. I always wanted to visit the west coast of Canada! I did a project in grade school about Ogopogo!

    Happy belated birthday!

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  21. No sightings of Ogopogo yet Judy, and yes the Niagara has excellent wines...visisting Niagara-on-the-lake and the Grimsby region is what started peaked my interrest years ago when I lived in Ontario Nataysha.

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  22. Beautiful views and food Val! I wish I could come on one of these trips with you!

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  23. There's something so peaceful about rows of grape vines. I love the photo! I've always wanted to try ice wine, but haven't gotten the chance yet...

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  24. Perfect day and beautiful write up!!!!!

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  25. Just gorgeous! We love that area.

    Happy belated birthday!

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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