Lake Country, BC
We have heard various parts of the Okanagan Valley referred to as Lake Country but there is actually an official municipality of Lake Country, BC. It is located between Vernon and Kelowna, has a population of 12,000, includes Winfield and Oyama and is home to some great wineries, of course! As part of our stay at Predator Ridge (see previous blog) we organized a wine tour for a group of golf tournament attendees who arrived a few days early. We used the MJO Tour company as our designated driver to visit Gray Monk Estate Winery, Ex Nihilo Vineyards and Arrowleaf Cellars.
Gray Monk Estate Winery and Vineyards
We started our tour at Gray Monk with a pre-booked private tour and tasting and we are glad that we did. Gray Monk is one of the original Estate wineries in the valley and rich in the history of BC wine making. We ended up spending 90 minutes at the winery with our host Donna first giving us a tour of the inner-workings of the facility and then leading us to the Wine Library. We tasted six of Gray Monks signature wines in Reidel stemware accompained by local cheeses, crackers and fruit. Donna did a terrific job leading us through the wines and the pairings. So good a job that a box was needed for our (Jeff & I) purchases on the way out. Our favourites included the Pinot Gris ($16.99), the Gamay Noir ($17.99), the Odessey Series Merlot ($23.99) and the Odessey Series Cabernet Sauvgnon ($29.99). If you are visiting Gray Monk as a group the extra cost for the Library Tasting ($17.50) is definitely worth it. We were so pre-occupied we forgot to take a picture!
Ex Nihilo Vineyards
Our next stop was Ex Nihilo which is considered a fairly new winery in the region and one that Jeff and I had not been to before. The tasting room is filled with art and modern decor. Our guide led us through the five wines that were currently available. Ex Nihilo has received accolades for thier Reisling and their Ice Wines. Our host was a terrific story teller and did the vineyard proud but we did not find any new favourite wines at this stop. Of course we did buy a Reisling ($22.95) and a Pinot Noir ($24.95) anyway.
Being our third stop many of our group was no longer interested in tasting wine and it seemed that being 5pm that the tasting staff was not that interested in serving us anyway. Despite having not the best attitude of the day the guide from Arrowleaf did manage to get us interested in a few bottles. Arrowleaf Bacchus has been a favourite of ours since we lived in the Okanagan. Arrowleaf was actually the first winery we visited when we moved to Salmon Arm in 1999. Bacchus is a Riesling, Sylvaner, Mueller-Thurgau cross that is naturally low in alcohol and makes a crisp, fresh summer sipper. And for $14.99 it is a good deal too. We left with 4 bottles but only brought two home after a few nights at Predator Ridge. Good thing summer is almost over and we go back every year. We also left with two bottles of the 2009 Solstice Reserve – a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Zweigelt ($28.00) for our collection.