Where else in the region can you sip at the wines available from more than 30 wineries? And that doesn’t even include the three craft distilleries that will be presenting their offerings.
If you want to know which wineries are coming for the event, you can check issues of the Castlegar News for the list of wineries available on Saturday, March 24.
Among the winery names on that list are several that wine aficionados and tasters have looked forward to every year. Many of these Okanagan and local-area wineries have been coming here off and on for 19 years. Tasters look forward to sipping wines again from Silver Sage, Lang Vineyards, Quinta Ferreira, Columbia Gardens, Dirty Laundry, Desert Hills, and Thornhaven Estates.
It’s quite delightful standing in front of a booth of one of these wineries and listening to the agent or owner or winemaker describe the nature of the wine. How smooth it is on the palate, how the essence of honey and grapefruit can be discerned in each sip, how forward the fruit taste is, and how one wine differs from another. It’s even more exciting if you’re standing in front of Anna Manola’s Silver Sage stand and listening to Anna engaged in patter about one of her wines. She’s a delight to listen to, and her wines are a pleasure to sip. And if you taste a wine you’d dearly love to have a bottle of (such as her Pinot Blanc Peach dessert wine), you can often find it in one of Castlegar’s local wine shops.
One new winery coming this year is Moraine Estate Winery. Located in the Naramata bench vineyards and winery area, this winery has been making a splash with its array of wines. In particular, its white-grape varietals such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer have been winning awards at every wine competition they’ve entered.
Recently, its 2016 Riesling, which had already won a gold award at the 2017 National Wine Competition, was designated a Platinum “best of the best” award for 2018. As a previous gold medal winner, this wine was entered into an exclusive competition of gold award winners—and came out on top. Castlegar Winefest on March 24th will have this remarkable wine to savour at the Moraine Estates booth.
Another winery coming for the first time is SummerGate Winery which has a wonderful estate in Summerland itself. Tucked among the many wineries along Bottleneck Drive, this 10-acre vineyard and winery are dedicated to making certified organic wines, one of only 10 B.C. wineries doing so.
In addition, owner Michael Stohler and winemaker Gillian Stohler are intent on making premium wines. To that end, they reduce crop yield, use special canopy techniques, and refuse to use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to enhance production. This philosophy separates their winery from most of the other wine producers in the area.
I found their wine to be quite fresh, crisp, and fruit forward. Focused on white grapes, this winery turns out fragrant orange-blossom Muscat Ottenel with a fruity taste of peach and tangerine. Other wines you can sip are their Riesling (Granny Smith apple fragrance and citrus flavour) and their Kerner.
Not many wineries in the Okanagan grow Kerner grapes and produce Kerner wine, which is a lovely off-sweet white wine. Their wine has a buttery mid-palate sensation and a zesty lime finish. It’s worth purchasing a ticket to the March 24th Winefest for this wine alone. Bubblee’s Wine Shop and Oglow’s Paints would be happy to sell you a ticket to Kerner wine-tasting bliss and a grand selection of other wines.