For the unprepared, going to the Westjet Wine Tasting event, the kickoff consumer tasting of the Okanagan Fall Wine Fest is like arriving off a plane in Kelowna with your canapé plate-come-wine glass holder, expecting the best to arrive on said plate and best glass of wine to slide in to the little wine sling on the side of said plate. It's not going to happen! You need to plan a route. Here's how...
We want to give you a few tips on how to navigate a festival where anything is possible (in the Okanagan Wine World). It's like the NYC of our little region's tasting events. You can get lost down a dark alley in the wrong burrough by just jumping on the wrong train! (think brooklyn is Naramata, Kelowna is Manhattan, Queens is Okanagan Falls... you get the idea).
1. A week or so before the event do some googling. Read a blog or two. If you are a wine enthusiast, chances are good that you have wineries to 'hit-up' as soon as you arrive. Write them down. Then add a few more through your internet search findings. Keep the list in your pocket so that when you walk in the "burrough" aka, Naramata, Summerland, Okanagan Falls areas, you have an idea of where to start.
2. You will have made the rounds of some of your listed favourites. NOW, starting asking around. If you like a wine, and so does the guy beside you, ask him what else he likes. It may lead you to new favourites.
3. If you are attending both nights, I suggest making the first a white night and the second for reds. Your palette will be more responsive than if you stand at each winery's tasting table running the gamut of white to ice and fortified wines every 5 minutes.
4. If you aren't attending both nights, which is the usual answer then start with sparkling wine. It's a fun way to start the night off with some celebration. Make the rounds of the room and find your favourite of the bubbly goodness. It is often forgotten and deserves its rightful position in the flow of the eve.
5. Whites then reds is the natural progression. Because of time constraints, rosés are fine to add to the white mix as you move from table to table. Once you move to reds start with a lighter one, like a Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir. Also, if in doubt don't let the wine pourer just await your decision. Ask them to pour in the progression they deem fitting.
Lastly, just as a side note, if you really want to remember everything for later purchasing make sure you have enough space on your phone to take a photo of each bottle that you like. It is easier than writing it down and you will get all the info, plus have a reference at your local wine shop or at the winery.
PS. Trying to tweet from the event is a slippery slope. Just take your notes then share it with the social media world 'tomorrow'.
PPS. Enjoy the event! And with this simple 'toolkit' of tricks, you will remember the wines you love and find them to enjoy until the next year's event.
What you will find at the WestJet Wine Tasting In Pictures:
Get your list out to navigate these subregions! They are packed! And seemingly endless.
You'll discover new wines from trusted favourites
Just when you thought you had a handle on the scene, up pops a new winery! Among a couple new faces, I found this new West Kelowna Winery at this year's event.
Christa Lee McWatters-Bond holds a great value here in her new winery Evolve Cellars, well priced rosé
By way of introduction meet this beautiful and unique wine from Summerhill. Only 200 cases, just introduced on the weekend and about to sell out this week. Go get some fast.
Andrew Melville knows the deal, that is why he has a hard hat on.
You will find an old friend or two in the crowd if you are a local, or you'll make new ones in the friendly Okanagan wine community. Locals Blake Crocker and Eric von Krosigk, Summerhill Winemaker and The Okanagan Wine Festival's Past President, have an overdue visit.
See you next year,
Tarynn Liv Parker