As the end of my time as a Mission Hill sommelier nears, I’ve been reflecting on my summer in the Okanagan. Let’s just say, I drank more wine this summer than I probably have my whole life… to train my palate, of course. I got to visit a ton of local wineries this summer and love how the wineries in the Okanagan act as one big family and inclusive community rather than competitors.
The nature of our local industry is so dynamic. Basically, every open field is being turned into a vineyard, no joke. There’s really a place for every type of winery in the Okanagan; from small family-run to hipster to prestigious.
New wineries are popping up in the Valley every season and it’s so exciting to see the community growing bigger every year. Since I’m apart of this great community, I want to share my experiences at some of the amazing wineries I’ve visited this summer - CedarCreek, Martin's Lane, Kitsch, and Frind. I've already talked about Mission Hill in my previous blog, so if you want to see what Mission Hill is all about - click here.
One of Mission Hill’s sister wineries in the Iconic Wineries of BC group. I LOVE their ambiance. It makes me feel like I’m at my friend’s home – cozy with their fireplace and modern décor, all with a perfect view of the Okanagan lake. Luckily, when I did my wine tasting, I got my hands on their delicious 2019 Platinum Block 1 Pinot Noir Rose because they’re sold out now! If you go here, don’t forget to visit their cute, fluffy Scottish Highland cows. These cows are not there for "show" - they’re actually used for their organic farming practices. In fact, Cedar Creek integrates lots of wildlife in their organic farming practices – you can learn more here.
Martin’s Lane Winery
It’s literally right beside Cedar Creek. Anthony von Mandl (Mission Hill’s proprietor) started this winery under his father’s name. Their architecture is very modern, minimalistic, and intricate. Their wine is very exclusive since their production is small, and they specialize in only Pinot Noir and Riesling. Nonetheless, they probably make the best pinot noir in the Valley! My sommelier team went on a tour of their property, and honestly, the coolest thing here is their artwork. They have an art piece of Van Gogh’s head on the property and have the ear that he cut off on their wine labels - how clever!
Hip, relaxed vibes. This is my favourite “newer” winery in the Okanagan. Kitsch lies right in the mansion of the founder’s parents with their vineyard right in the backyard and a charming view of the Valley. Their winery stems from a business success story with the owner previously being the founder of SAXX underwear. My favourite wine is the 2019 Block Party, a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir - it literally brings a party of flavours to your palate. Some people don’t bother with newer, small wineries because they haven’t built their reputation, but I always believe that you shouldn’t overlook the new kids on the block.
Another new kid on the block, just down the hill from Mission Hill. One of the greatest things here is that they’re beachside, so you can enjoy a glass of wine on the sand. If you do, be sure to try their 2018 Viognier. My co-worker got me to blindly taste this, and I found the characteristics of this wine so intriguing. It brings a smoky aroma to your nose, but carries tropical fruit notes to the palate. Also, try Annie’s café inside Frind - they have the most delicious croissants and coffee. Mission Hill is pretty deserted in terms of food availability, so this café became my go-to for food in the neighbourhood since it was basically the only option (but a great option).