Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Favorites - Summerhill Winery

I hope you all forgive me for the little hiatus I took last week. I was out of town, and the social life has been taking a little too much of my time that I’ve…ehm...yes, not been too regular with my postings. So where have I been? I'm glad you asked. Last weekend I went to the Okanagan, more specifically Kelowna, part of the northernmost wine region in the world. Okay so there are also lush orchards, spectacular scenery, large lakes, mountains, fancy restaurants... did I mention the wineries?

For those of you who have never been, the Okanagan valley is a semiarid desert (Canada’s only) with an average annual rainfall below 30 centimeters. This lack of humidity, combined with the long hot summer days (due to being so far north) and cool evenings has created what is perhaps the finest grape growing region in the world. The grapes tend to be small with a high sugar and acid content as opposed to the fat watery grapes of many other regions. This allows for intensely flavoured aromatic wines. Mmmm…

Way back in 1995, the Okanagan only had about 26 wineries and some of them were obviously of questionable quality. But now, this “Napa North” or “Tuscany of Canada,” as it’s sometimes dubbed, has more than 120 wineries. However, the one winery that I would like to highlight is Summerhill, Canada’s LARGEST organic vineyard.

It is more than just being organic that makes this Summerhill winery special. Summerhill specializes in sparkling wines and they age all their wines in a four-storey replica of the great pyramid. Steven Cipes, the proprietor, believes that the flavour of fine wines is enhanced when aged in a pyramid. Whether or not this is actually the case, what is indisputable is that Summerhill produces phenomenal quality wines that rival those that come from the most established wine regions in the world. In 2000, Summerhill won a gold medal in the Chardonnay du Monde competition for its Gabriel sparkling wine against France’s champagnes. Of the five gold medals awarded in this category, Summerhill was the only winery outside France to be bestowed with such an honour.

While you’re visiting, don’t forget to take a stroll through the Peace Park and take in the fabulous scenery while lunching on the terrace (a fabulous brunch is offered on weekends) before making your way to the wine shop for tastings. And if you’ve never tried icewine, Summerhill offers an exquisite selection.

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28 comments:

paris parfait said...

Such beautiful sights! Thanks for sharing these photos. And please email me your mailing address for the Postcard Project.

PortraitofPeter said...

Carla, that is so amazing - the wood carving looks so much like Jesus!!

I do luv to read of your adventures - always so very interesting and educational too. It looks as if we will shortly be having Canadian Wine - in our stores here soon!!

Carla said...

Paris Parfait, I will definitely get my address to you later today.

Anyone who's interested, Paris Parfait has a wonderful Postcard Project going on over at her site. Please visit if you're interested.

Peter, I'm glad you've made yourself a regular over here. As for having Canadian wine...although it is of good quality, we still produce very small quantities and most of it is consumed by the local market. And as BC is so mountainous, we really don't have very much arable land.

jillie said...

That place looks beautiful and the wineries...I think I will have to look into that for one of our next adventures!

Who would have thought that Canada would have such a great wine country...now we know...

Belly up to the taste bar!

;o)

Carla said...

Jillie, And adventures you will definitely have. It's worth the trip.

Cheryl said...

Carla - I was just recommending a Summerhill tour to someone on Monday! Their restaurant is so good.
I've been dying to get my hands on a bottle of their Baco Noir, it always seems to be sold out everywhere.

Carla said...

Cheryl, most of Summerhill's wine is sold through their wineshop. It is really quite difficult to find their wine in stock elsewhere. I've run into the same difficulty here.

thethinker said...

That first picture is great!

Carla said...

Thinker, Thanks for dropping by. Stop in again sometime.

Fede said...

Well, I wasn't sure when I first read your post about such a good wine. I thought I didn't get the location quite right. Well, I guess that I'll never get a chance to sip it unless I pack and go to Canada. Well, you could still wisely decide to ship me a couple of your precious cases.
Good night and good luck.

Steffi said...

Wow...wonderful pictures of wonderful places which you visited!I wish I was there too!

Have a nice day!

Carla,I would like link you in my blog!I hope that´s okay for you?

Steffi

rowena said...

Well, you can't ever go wrong with wineries! Ironically though, here I am in a country that flows with it, yet I have never been to a winery anywhere on the boot! I think my priorities need to be put into order...

Carla said...

Fede, I know it's surprising, but BC wine is starting to have an international reputation. In most wineries in BC I would say their whites are still better than their reds. One needs hotter weather to produce good reds than whites. But there are some places that now produce very good reds as well.

Steffi, I hope you get a chance to visit someday. There is lots to do in the area. And of course I don't mind if you link me. You might have noticed that I've already linked you.

Carla said...

Rowena, I think that would make for a perfect post for your blog. You can scout the places out, write about them, and the next time I'm in the area I'll know exactly where to go.

Winters said...

Very interesting post Carla, and nice photos.

I have grape-picked in Bordeaux in the south-west of France. A lovely part of the world, if you ever have the chance to visit...

Bon Weekend. :)

Sirdar said...

Its been a while since I've been to the Okanagan. I love it there. The last time there we did the wine tour thing...driving from winery to winery. There is just one problem when enjoying that many wineries. After tasting so much wine, you pretty much become slightly inebriated and driving could be costly should a nice police man/woman decide to stop you for driving all over the road. Fortunately, we did not get stopped...and it was a lot of fun.

Were going to Frank Slide for a Geology Camp with the kids at the end of August and will probably be going through there. Might have to stop at a few wineries while were there....

Carla said...

Winters, I will definitely make it a priority to visit Bordeaux at least once in this lifetime. Perhaps my next trip...Any suggestions on where I should visit?

Sidar, 'Tis true...hopping from one winery to the next can indeed be hazardous. I think there are organized tours for that very reason. You certainly should stop at a few wineries. There are some very good ones in the area.

Fede said...

...you do not mention the two cases of wine...

;-)
;-)

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

I have heard of their ice wines... It is on my must try list.
Thanks for sharing the photos!

Carla said...

Fede, Shh...or else everyone will expect me to send them some. What do you prefer...red or white?

The Fool said...

Hi Nomad. Actually, I am not wine "experienced." I've really only had a few glasses in my whole life. Nothing exotic I'm sure. Perhaps, I have needed to age myself in order to appreciate the fermentation of grapes. At this point, I may finally be ripe enough to consider an exploration of the bachanalian realms, but I wouldn't have a clue as to where to start. A vat at a winery might be a good place to begin. Have a great weekend. I love the carving...

Carla said...

Sandi, they really are exquisite. And it is quite a process to make as well. The grapes stay on the vine until the temperatures reach minus 15 C and then the temperature must remain cold like that for two weeks before the grapes are picked and pressed.

Carla said...

Fool, A vat at a winery would certainly be a beginning...quite a beginning in fact. But I'm not quite sure where that would end. I hope you have a good weekend.

Reverend Sumangali Tania Pink said...

I love summerhill wines. You know I am not much of a drinker and I always thought ice wines were toooooooo expensive - till I tried some this year that a Canadian brought over. WOW.

I'll have to look for Summerhill Ice wine when I'm back home in Vancouver this summer.

Thanks for the gorgeous post!
xx
pinks

Carla said...

Pinks, Thanks for dropping by. Icewine definitely is a treat. It goes very well with dark chocolate. Good luck finding it.

JBelle said...

I haven't been there. But I'm gonna go. Great piece, Carla. We had Okanogan wine last night. :)

Debbie said...

What wonderful pictures! And your explanation of the wine and how it's made was really well written and interesting.

I love wine, however, I don't much about it. Red wine is my favourite but white is good, too. Yummm.

I tried ice wine once and was not a fan. Wayyy too sweet. But perhaps I didn't have a nice kind.

Carla said...

JBelle, you really must stay for brunch...it's one of the best that I've had.

Debbie, Thanks for stopping by. I admit that ice wine can be very sweet. It is best when having not much more than a taste and it pairs very well with dark chocolate (a bit on the bitter side).