Top 10 Wine Picks from the 16th Annual Sun Peaks Okanagan Winter Wine Fest

We've picked 10 of the finest local wines from this year's winter festival

Credit: Ariane Colenbrander

16th Annual Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine

The Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine is the perfect place for both connoisseurs and newbies to discover new vino.

Now in its 16th year, the event was created to celebrate and showcase all of the finest wines B.C. has to offer.

While the Progressive Tasting – an evening stroll through the Alpine village with wine glass in hand, sampling from 24 B.C. wineries – is the festival’s cornerstone event and one of the resort’s winter highlights, attendees also had the chance to check out wine and food pairing events, so tasting opportunities were abound. While many a fine wine was sipped, here are 10 wines worthy of sharing.

Stag’s Hollow Tragically Vidal 2012

A bright white with pineapple, lychee, pear, orange citrus and pepper notes, the winemaker has added Orange Muscat to the recipe this year. The Vidal’s grapes are harvested at the end of October, right at the touch of first frost. This stainless steel-fermented wine receives enough residual sugars, but doesn’t go overboard on the sweet factor, making it a perfectly balanced wine great when paired with chicken, curry, and seafood. $18.99

Credit: Gehringer

Gehringer Brothers Estates Winery Ehrenfelser 2012

This vibrant wine also has a touch of sweetness to it, derived from apricot, honey and hints of almond. Its unique tannins give it a dry finish, making it ideal for both an aperitif or enjoying with lightly-spiced foods. I’d also find it a suitable partner for aged cheese and green apple. $14.99

Sunnybrae Vineyards Siegerrebe 2012

The aptly-titled “Sunnybrae” vineyards enjoy a unique micro-climate near the Shuswap Lake shoreline, where the grapes bask in the sun during the day and benefit from cool breezes in the evening. I like the tropical, citrus fruit burst at first sip, along with its crisp finis. Perfect for serving with both seafood and dessert. $18.00  

Thornhaven Estates Merlot 2010

This smooth, velvety, ruby-coloured red wine has a definitive cherry and ripe berry bouquet at first sip, and caps off with a slightly smoky finish. This is a versatile wine easily paired with strong cheese, steak, game, a Bolognese, but is also delicious on its own. $19.90

Stag’s Hollow Winery & Vineyard Syrah 2010

This 91.5% Syrah, 8.5% Viognier wine has a nice, deep colour with ripened blackberries on first sip. I love the texture of this wine and its rustic finish and earthy quality. In addition to the deep fruit flavour, I picked up on lavender, plum, and pepper. An award-winner that will age well over the next handful of years if cellared properly. $28.00

Red Rooster Winery Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

This lovely wine has currant, red berry and cherry flavours that all finish smoothly on the palate. I can see this wine pairing nicely with grilled burgers or salmon, right down to Upper Bench Creamery’s Moody Cow, a blue-brie surface-ripened cheese. $24.99

Credit: Qual's Gate

Quails Gate Pinot Noir 2011

This smooth, balanced red was poured at the Conversation with the Chef pairing, with pepper-seared beef tenderloin prepared by Delta Sun Peaks Resort Exec Chef Paul Paboudjian, and sourced by the resort’s food and beverage director Didier Touton. Partially barrel-aged in oak, this wine has a musky floral aroma, enhanced by ripe red fruits (including sour cherries) on the palate. This wine was one of the highlights of our meal, and at $24.99, it’s a well-priced Pinot.

Misconduct Wine Syrah/Cabernet 2009

This wine was poured alongside Fairview Cellars’ Bucket O’Blood Syrah/Cabernet 2011, and served at Voyageur Bistro’s Food, Wine, and Canadian History dinner. Our paired dish was prime rib with cauliflower purée, however I can see this 60 per cent Syrah, 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon wine working well with stews, rich pasta sauces and a fruit plate at dessert. The Syrah/Cab starts with dried plums and leather on the nose, resulting in an earthy, flavourful finish. $36.00

Credit: Ariane Colenbrander

Fairview Cellars Bucket O’Blood Syrah/Cabernet 2011

Fairview Cellars is part of a small group of winemakers that have been working in BC since the mid-1990s. Although this winery is known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine’s name alone was enough to get me curious. We learned that it’s a nickname for Moffat Saloon, a 1890s watering hole where miners often took their disagreements outside. This wine has a beautiful deep colour and bursts with dark fruit flavour, as well as hints of vanilla, oak and mint on the nose. $30.00

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Merlot Icewine 2011

With its grapes harvested in December 2011, this special-occasion wine has a fruitful blend of strawberry, plum and cherry that lingers nicely on the palate. With 211 grams of residual sugar and a nine on the sweetness level, it would be hard to find a dessert that wouldn’t work with this rich, flavourful vintage. $108