Monday, November 19, 2012

The Travel Group 25th Anniversary North Okanagan Retreat Part 2

We stayed at Sparkling Hill Resort and after several hours in the spa we were all ready for some good food and wine.  Peakfine restaurant satisfied our every need.  I was concerned when the restaurant didn't want to do a limited menu for our group of 14 but was pleasantly surprised with the results. Thanks to Nikki for taking great care of us. Everything was served in a timely way so that no one was finished eating while others were still waiting to be served.  From the amuse bouche to the petits fours, everything was delicious.   

I started with yam ravioli with sage butter and then had a grilled ahi tuna with a spicy citrus foam served on a bed of green. 

The lamb shoulder with lentils was given rave reviews. 

I was most impressed with the Zander,  a perch like European fish, it was cooked and presented perfectly.  

Peakfine is an Austrian restaurant and Austrian's love food and especially dessert so we tried everything.  The apple strudel and chocolate silk cake pretty well sent us to bed.

Everything is made in house at Sparkling Hill and the quality and freshness are evident.  The breakfast buffet is included in your stay and the same quality applies.  

We still had wineries to visit on Sunday morning so we were up early to get the most from the fantastic pools and the breakfast before our 9:30 start.  

By 10am we were at Ex Nihilo Winery. I like this winery because it makes Sympathy for the Devil, Rolling Stones Icewine and I love the Rolling Stones.  They always have interesting art on display and great taste is shown in everything they do. The wine I like best here is Night, a bordeaux blend.  It would be a great place to hold an event.  They have a beautiful function room.  

Next up we visited Gray Monk Estate Winery, known for great bubblies and pinot gris, they won our hearts with the Odyssey Port.  Gray Monk offers excellent value for your money.  They have an excellent restaurant that is open seasonally.

We managed to fit in an unplanned visit to Intrique Winery. They are associated with Gray Monk but are making their own distinct wines.  Many of our group did the most buying here.  The gift shop was excellent as well.  

And so ended our weekend wine retreat.  I highly recommend the North Okanagan and Sparkling Hill Resort for a great getaway.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Travel Group 25th Anniversary North Okanagan Retreat

The Travel Group celebrated our anniversary with a wine tour. Saturday morning we started out at Kelowna airport in a 14 seat bus with lots of room for wine purchases.  We were lucky with the weather for the first week of November but the wineries were starting to close or change their hours for the season so we had a bit of a slow start.  Our first stop was a Rollingdale Winery, an organic winery in West Kelowna.  The Quonset hut houses the tasting bar and winery where everything happens.  There were big bins of grapes waiting to be processed and the heady aroma of wine greeted us as soon as the doors of the bus opened. 

If don’t "get" that you are truly on a farm, the pet donkey will bring it home.  

They make some very tasty wines but I was most impressed with their Stoney Slopes Pinot Noir.  A ’08 vintage grown in Okanagan Falls, I sure hope it tastes as good when I open the bottle I blew my budget on.

Next stop was Volcanic Hills where our Sommelier Guide, Shalyn from Wine Your Way Tours took us through a food and wine pairing lesson.  Tasting your wines with cheese, sausage, lemons, dark and milk chocolate will quickly teach you what works and what doesn’t.  We have some new ideas for our Friday winedowns.   They have one of the largest tasting room and gift shops I’ve ever seen and good comfortably accommodate our group lesson.  There is always a bottle of their Rose in my fridge so I was happy to stock up.  The Volcanic Hills team have excellent experience making wine their wine is very good value.

Ahead we had Quail’s Gate Winery for lunch and a private wine tour.  First, lunch at Old Vines Restaurant where we were soon munching on Frites with Truffle and Parmesan and sipping on Blue Mountain Brut.

I really enjoyed the Lois Lake Steelhead Salmon with potato mash, gingered squash, kale, pecans and lemongrass butter.  Crisp salmon skin, moist flesh and lively vegetable. 

The Slow Roasted Fraser Valley Porchetta was a popular dish as well. 

Chef Roger Sleiman showcased the season and the wines when he planned his new late fall menu.  We chose Quail’s Gate 2010 Pinot Noir and 2011 Chenin Blanc which are some of the best in the Okanagan.   Fourteen smiling, happy faces headed out for a private vineyard tour with Peter, guide extraordinaire. Peter shared a lot of knowledge as he took us through the vineyard and their wine library and finished with a tasting in their beautiful fireplace room.   I highly recommend a visit to Quail’s Gate Winery and lunch at Old Vines Restaurant

We were ready to head to Sparkling Hill Resort to sweat out some of the food and wine in one of the amazing spa there.