Chatelaine’s assistant articles editor, Stacy, recently visited Vernon, BC and had the chance to explore some local delights the Okanagan Valley has to offer. Here, she gives us the lowdown on the highlights from her trip:
Gray Monk Winery, the oldest family-owned and operated winery in the Valley, was our first stop. The owners were leaders in establishing the province’s Estate Winery program, which revolutionized BC’s wine industry, and they consistently clean up at the Canadian Wine Awards—they won four silvers and three bronzes at this year’s ceremony! The assistant winemaker took us on an in-depth, step-by-step tour of each part of the wine-making process, from pressing the grapes to juicing them to fermenting them in huge, stainless steel tanks.
The next stop was Davison Orchards, a family-owned farm. Originally, the farm was all about apples – growing different varietals to sell to BC Fruit Shippers. Over time, additional crops were planted, a market was built and special events, like the annual pumpkin festival, were held. The family also started making products with their crops, like their super-tasty apple cider and homemade pies. If I lived in Vernon I’d be in so much trouble because those pies were amazing. Even the pumpkin pie, which I normally don’t love (I know, I know. What’s wrong with me?), knocked my figurative socks off.
Our last stop was Okanagan Spirits, a deceptively tiny building in Vernon proper. I honestly hadn’t ever thought about the process of making spirits but I can now say with confidence that the process is actually very interesting. OS makes eaux de vie, liqueurs, grappa and absinthe. We learned about the alcohol-extraction process (there’s a gorgeous, bronze machine that looks like something out of a steampunk fantasy novel) and most importantly, got to taste six or seven different varieties! My favourites were the Canados, a brandy that’s very similar to a French apple brandy called Calvados, and the Old Italian Prune eaux de vie.”
These are just a few samplings of what could be waiting for you! Enter for your chance to win your own gourmet foodie getaway to the Thompson Okanagan in BC. You could also win some fabulous prizes from Breville and Le Creuset!