Save these dates for wintery fun

Season events coming up

It’s not officially winter, but it is definitely winter event season and time to “calendarize” a few things.

This includes pre-ordering and planning to pick up holiday culinary feasts. A personal favourite is getting a Coulombe Family Tourtière from VinAmité Cellars just south of Oliver. It feeds six. You do the assembling and you can take all the credit when it comes out of the oven. Pick up on Dec. 22 or 23, but before then, plan on exploring Oliver-Osoyoos wine country.

Winter in Wine Country takes place in the southern part of the Okanagan Valley Nov. 24 to 25 and Dec. 2 to 3 as wineries celebrate the season. Highlights will include Hester Creek Estate Winery, which will have complimentary mulled wine, Culmina Family Estate Winery will welcome Audrey’s Breads with their baked goods and Nostalgia Wines will have a pop-up shop with gift ideas.

The South Okanagan Fire and Ice Festival will run from Nov. 24 to Dec. 3. The Fire and Ice Carnival at Spirit Ridge Resort will surely be memorable.

Further north, the wineries around Okanagan Falls and Kaleden—collectively known as the Heart of Wine Country— will host Holiday Cheer this coming weekend (Nov. 18 to 19). Highlights will include Santa at Blasted Church Vineyards, Lakeboat Winery will pair up with the famous Doug’s Homestead for meats and cheeses, Uppercase Winery will pair sips with soups, and side-by-side wineries Mayhem and Meyer will have a firepit for roasting marshmallows.

Near Penticton, indulge in the inaugural Naramata Bench Winterfest Nov. 24 to 25, with winery, cidery, and distillery tastings. Highlights will include mulled wine and s’mores at Daydreamer, baked goods and spiked tea at Maple Leaf Spirits and complimentary Provenance series tastings at Township 7.

Tip: While in Penticton, book your holiday dinner at BRODO for pick up on Dec. 22 and check out the happenings at the Naramata Inn.

Summerland hosts its famous Festival of Lights on Nov. 24 with Light Up the Vines on Bottleneck Drive the next day. Don’t miss mini cocktails at Controlled Entropy Distilling, fire pits and apple cider at Lightning Rock or grilled cheeses at Summerland Heritage Cider. As a bonus there will be multiple weekends for the Winter Wine Experience at Haywire.

In West Kelowna, Quail’s Gate will host its Winter "Wanderland” and a holiday gala this weekend and will raise funds for wildfire relief. Grizzli Winery will have events through mid-December and Mission Hill will hosts its annual Festival of Trees.

And finally, in Kelowna prepare for the holidays by taking a class at the Okanagan Table.

This should take us all well into the season and when you need to get in some exercise, strap on some skates and head to the District Wine Village.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


A taste of the conferences and courses available this winter

Tasty education

In the middle of this unpalatable economy, there may not be much taste for spending funds on anything educational.

That said, I was recently reminded of something said in a marketing committee meeting many years ago when I worked in post-secondary education: “If you can’t invest in anything else right now, at least you can invest in yourself.”

With several upcoming conferences, you can invest in your current business or the dream of starting a new one, especially if you’re pondering agriculture, the business of fermenting or distilling, or getting certified in beverages.

Interested in organics? Organic BC will bring the 30th anniversary of its conference to Penticton from Nov. 7 to 9. A grassroots network of organic certifiers, farmers, processors and consumers working to build healthy soil, ecosystems, people and communities, this organization’s conference promises a wide range of sessions, an off-site farm tour, a research facility tour, a packed trade show, and organic meals. Everyone is welcome to attend

Not long after, and also in Penticton, the Fortify conference will return. Fortify is a business conference and trade show for fermenters and distillers, featuring presentations from industry professionals and experts. If you’re in the booze business, adjacent to it or thinking of diving in, register to attend on Nov. 15. Sessions throughout the day will cover the themes of finance, marketing and HR. The day will start with a plenary session that’s been somewhat of a hot topic this year—Alcohol and Health – Why You Need to Worry about Changing Views.

Speaking of wine, UBC Dialogues will host Championing Climate-Resilient B.C. Winemaking on Nov. 7 in Kelowna, presented by UBC Okanagan and Alumni UBC in partnership with UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Also a hot topic, no pun intended.

Food, Wine, and Tourism at Okanagan College offers a number of classes and certificates, and some programs are a part of the StrongerBC Future Skills Grant, which can cover all or part of your tuition.

For something a little less formal, explore the remaining events of the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, which run through Nov. 3, or pencil in an upcoming winter event. After all, sometimes simple networking over a glass of wine can present an unexpected opportunity.

If you missed the recent Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association Summit, you missed hearing from experts and leaders from key provincial and regional tourism sectors. The key takeaway, as our region recovers from this past season. Was now is the time for collaboration, planning, and preparation.

And now is the time to invest in yourself, your staff and your business.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

From collaboration to cold brew, beer week is coming

Penticton Beer Week

Once you’ve recovered from your holiday feast this coming weekend, the countdown to October’s next seasonal festivities begins.

The fifth annual Penticton Beer Week will begin Oct. 12 with the official release of the annual Do Good brew, a collaboration creation, brewed at Yellow Dog Brewing. It is a fundraiser supporting the South Okanagan-Similkameen branch of the SPCA. Watch for it on sale during the 10-day Beer Block Party from Oct. 13 to Oct. 22.

On lucky Friday the 13th, events kick off with a barrel beer release and pizza party, a classic pairing, at Tin Whistle Brewing; the Brewer’s Showdown at Cannery Brewing, where staff members have created eight unique beers and attendees vote for their favourite; and the Nightmare on Westminster, featuring spooky tacos and a costume contest, at Neighbourhood Brewing.

Speaking of costumes, they are encouraged at the 10 km walk or run Penticton Beer Run Oct. 14. There’s still time to register.

Starting at Abandoned Rail Brewing for their first sip, participants will take a scenic route starting down the KVR trail as they sample their way through tastings from the Barley Mill Brew Pub, the Cannery, Tin Whistle, Neighbourhood, Yellow Dog, Slackwater Brewing, Highway 97 Brewing Company, Oliver’s Firehall Brewery, and Summerland’s Giant’s Head Brewing.

A highlight of a week of activities will be the third annual Square Mini-Mural Project at the Cannery on Oct. 18. A joint event with the Penticton Art Gallery, these murals have been on display at the Cannery since March. If one caught your eye, this will be your chance to bid on it.

From a beer mug workshop to a pretzel making class to a sip ‘n’ spin fitness class, there are plenty of pints to explore and enjoy, with the festival concluding on Oct. 21.

The second annual BrewHaHa takes place at the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre, where you can take advantage of the resort’s Sips & Suds package, available until the end of November.

Beer, food, live music and there’s a chance to win a night’s stay at the Lakeside if you purchase your tickets before Oct. 10.

In case that isn’t enough ales, pilsners and stouts, plan on booking Oktoberfest at the District Wine Village – bonus, there’s a shuttle, but book early – on Oct. 23.

Learn more about B.C.’s burgeoning craft beer scene by visiting the BC Ale Trail online here.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Finding the right drinks for a spicy serving

Peppery pairings that sizzle

Rugged, rustic, and ripe.

Three words that could easily describe the Similkameen Valley, the area in and around Keremeos and Cawston, under the distinct “K” formation on the mountainside, the ‘ripe’ referring to the abundant fruit and veggie stands full of farm fresh produce.

Did you know peppers play a spicy part there, with more than 200 varieties in the region?

With so many peppers and possible culinary creations, you’re going to need a glass of something for a proper pairing. Thankfully, the award-winning beverage producers of the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers can pour you in the right direction.

Two Similkameen wineries are on the top 10 small winery WineAlign list and among the top 25 wineries in Canada, plus there is a new distillery already racking up awards. Together, 14 producers – a distillery and two cideries alongside the wineries – will be at Canada’s only hot pepper festival this Saturday in at Memorial Park in Keremeos, the Similkameen Sizzle.

Sip and sizzle with the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the beverage gardens. Beverage tickets at $1 per ounce for tastings or glasses of fine wines, ciders and spirits, and bottle sales will be available.

Food trucks and small bites will be available throughout the day, and you may find a hot pepper jelly, salsa, or spice rub to pair with a newly discovered wine.

A fresh cider might be a good first choice to sip with a spicy dish. How about Untangled Craft Cider’s Mulberry Thyme, a dry cider with lime notes, with some Shishito peppers roasted with fresh thyme salt, and olive oil? Only one in about every 10 Shishitos is hot. Have the cider handy.

A jalapeño and cucumber Sharpe’s Distillery vodka cocktail? Why not? Kick it up a notch with a salad of the last of the season’s peaches, fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta, basil, and some peppery arugula leaves dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper jam.

Pondering red wine with a hot chili? Go for a lighter bodied fruit forward wine, such as a Pinot Noir from Crowsnest Vineyards or Gamay from Robin Ridge Winery.

A daring pairing is a mole sauce served with roast turkey this coming Thanksgiving (or maybe drizzled over the mashed potatoes), and a bottle of off-dry Riesling from Orofino.

Finally, your apéritif or dessert wine to enjoy after the peppers and spices have been put away: Saturn, a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Clos du Soleil.

Entrance to the Sizzle Festival, presented by the Similkameen Country Development Association is free, and the schedule can be found online here.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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