The intensity of the Okanagan summer is ramping up this time of the year, and our grapes are beginning to benefit from the averages of thirty-degree temperatures during the day with dramatic drops during the evenings. This unique aspect of central okanagan climate allows the grapes to produce fresh fruity flavours and crisp aromatics while preserving crucial acidity levels that balance the wine.
Today, I was lucky to attend the second session of the BC Wine Institute’s Wine Ambassador program. The session focused on micro-climates and the many as of yet unrecognized regional growing designations in the Okanagan which range from intensely hot and dry desert to more mild, cool-climate sub-regions spanning from the southern O.K. Falls/Similkameen valley all the way up through Lake Country and beyond. The session highlighted how these micro-climates and the multitude of wines that are able to be produced within them might be complicating factor for B.C’s international wine branding, but that emphasis must be placed on creating official designations for these sub-regions so they may be recognized for what they do best instead of a single generic branding of the Okanagan as a whole. I agree that the creation of smaller appellations or designations would be helpful in pointing non-locals in the right direction when it comes to wine styles. This approach would allow wineries further branding specificities that would highlight the subtle nuances present within these unique sub-climates and eventually would lead to the development of specific appellations able to garner international repute on a much smaller scale - after all, Canada is good for more than just ice wine! Overall I found the session quite helpful in providing some education specific to the Okanagan wine industry.
With the long weekend come and gone (HAPPY 150 CANADA!) and my long weekend hangover finally dissipating, I just now have time to reflect on the more recent developments around the winery and the vineyard. The vineyard blocks are in full swing and seem to be growing a foot every day (I exaggerate, ever so slightly). I haven’t spent nearly as much time out in the vineyard with the ramping up of tourist season and the long weekend warriors, so for the last six days I have had the pleasure of being part of the never-ending waves of bachelorette parties, yoga retreats: a veritable mixture of foreigners and locals looking for their next glass of Okanagan wine! The diversity of visitors always keeps me on my toes and my wits sharp, but that makes it all the more fun and enjoyable to keep on researching the world of wine.
As I’ve been studying for the first level WSET one of the more interesting aspects has been the idea of food and wine pairings, and the complicated nature of selecting the right dish for the right wine, or vice versa. Most surprising, for myself at least, was the idea of umami as a difficult pairing that most often needs an added element – salt, acidity, sugar etc – to create a pleasing effect when paired with wine (wine that should be equally rich in flavour and in depth of body). Another surprise was the idea that a sweet dessert can actually enhance the bitterness and tannic levels present in a wine, something I experienced first hand last night as I tossed a mouthful of milk chocolate peanut butter M&M’s then took a sip of my Pinotage Merlot blend, which is usually quite fruity and smooth but with the presence of the sweet milk chocolate was quite brutally diminished and replaced with an unpleasant bitter quality paired with a bitingly dry mouthfeel. Needless to say, I taught myself a practical lesson that will most definitely be remembered and applied to future wine pairings!
This represents the last of my Summer in the Vines 2017 series, I hope you enjoyed my inaugural season into the Okanagan Wine Industry! Look forward to more fun with my Hidden Gems series and a new series coming this Fall 2018 where I will be featuring recipes using my favourite wines, ciders, and beers!
Until next time,
XO Babbling Bottles
ALL ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHY © AMBER RAE BOUCHARD