by Tania Tomaszewska –
A glass of wine is a great way to armchair travel. Swirl, close your eyes, smell, taste and feel where it takes you.
The journey can take a few different tacks depending on your interests. Perhaps it’s a deep dive into viticulture, farming, geology: thinking about why the winery has chosen its site and grape varieties. Or maybe the art and influence of the winemaker (or choice to intervene as little as possible in the process) intrigues you. You might be looking at the bottle label and consulting a map. Whether you visit the winery or Google it, its wine is about geography and is a vehicle to place.
The flight below takes you a bit off the beaten track to visit two trailblazing wineries located in the Okanagan Valley. They each produce wine from grape varieties one might not expect to see, let alone shine, here in British Columbia. So grab a bottle or two and travel virtually to the Naramata Bench, Osoyoos and beyond.
Terravista Vineyards, Naramata Bench
Perched high up on Naramata Bench, Terravista Vineyards is a 10-minute drive north of Penticton. Its four-acre Lone Hand Ranch home vineyard is blessed with a west-facing slope, mixed till sediments and stony soils (great for crisp aromatic whites) and the Okanagan’s first plantings of albariño and verdejo (which are typically grown in northwest Spain and Portugal). Terravista is the only winery in Canada making verdejo and only one other winery in B.C. (Stag’s Hollow in Okanagan Falls) produces albariño.
Terravista’s Fandango is a lively dance of albariño and verdejo: a unique blend not made anywhere else in the world at this time. I love this “New World” twist on “Old World” tradition. Terravista’s single variety Albariño is another knock-out. You’ll love it for lunch and it’ll take you to dinner.
Terravista also produces wine from white Rhône varieties viognier, roussanne and marsanne and a limited amount of red from syrah. Their wines are fun, vibrant and fantastically food-friendly. Cool labels depicting their tasting room are reminiscent of a work by Mondrian. Open by appointment.
www.terravista vineyards.com 1853 Sutherland Road, Penticton
Moon Curser Vineyards, Osoyoos
Drive one hour south from the Naramata Bench and you’ll get to Moon Curser Vineyards located in Osoyoos, Canada’s one true desert. Located on the climb up Anarchist Mountain, its west-facing vineyards get sun drenched in this hot and arid region. Moon Curser makes an incredibly diverse and interesting portfolio from several varieties exotic to B.C. Their mission and wines are bold and have depth.
Far from its Piedmont home in northwest Italy and meaning “Little Rascal” in Italian, I really like Moon Curser’s Arneis for a unique white wine option. This singular expression of the arneis variety in Canada is dry and crisp and has lemon, grapefruit and peach tones layered with herbaceous minerality. Think creamy pastas, shellfish or prosciutto.
By sipping Moon Curser’s reds, you can also explore dolcetto or nebbiolo (other Piemontese varieties), tannat (which thrives in Uruguay), tempranillo (a Rioja grape and grown in the Iberian Peninsula since Phoenician times), touriga nacional (late-ripening Portuguese variety often used in Port) or carménère (originally from Bordeaux and now a Chilean flagship).
Moon Curser’s labels and story revolves around the area’s mining history. In the 1800s, smugglers ran gold across the nearby U.S. border in “The Dead of Night” (tannat-syrah) and cursed the moon’s bright light when it revealed their movements. Open by appointment, Moon Curser offers sweeping views across Osoyoos Lake to Mount Kobau.
www.mooncurser.com 3628 Highway 3 East, Osoyoos