I forgot to mention that in addition to visiting seven wineries and a cheese maker, the wine tour also included a stop to pick up some fruit. The Okanagan has been cranking out a lot of this fruit stuff for a long time. In fact, the vineyards are the johnny-come-latelies. Most of our crew raved about the peaches, which had come in early due to the unusually early, long and hot summer.
I’m something of an apple man – the fruit more so than the computer – so I was impressed by the apple orchards with trees “trained” to grow into perfect rectangles only as high as a person can reach, and in neat rows to boot. These tactics, developed by the Canadian government’s farm scientists, result in reducing the farmers harvesting costs considerably while increasing output substantially. All this with bits of string, wire, and pruning, producing a mind-boggling wide variety of apples, many of which I had never heard of. Pretty cool. Continue reading 13. Fire Mountain
Things got off to an upbeat start. Matt from Experience Wine Tours picked us at eight-thirty, right on time. The van quickly filled up with ten paying customers in surprising comfort. Matt drove us off towards the Naramata Bench, a fertile hillside that slopes from a clifftop rising from Okanagan Lake, an hour south of Kelowna. Our new companions were a reasonable crew, friendly but not intrusive, interested in wine but neither snobby nor obsessed. These are important attributes for folks with whom I would spend seven hours in a van.
As were headed down the lakeshore Matt gave sparse but informative commentary, a relief since over-talkative tour guides can be most irritating. On the contrary, Matt had us introduce ourselves – something many a second-rate tour guide will neglect to do – and asked almost as many questions as he answered.
A column of smoke marked another wildfire in the forest not far from our destination. For the rest of the day, lake water-skimming tanker planes flew low overhead on their way to pick up and dump huge quantities of water on the blaze, a dangerous business.
Today, though, was all about the wine. I had looked forward to this day more than any other we had planned. To start at the end, I will say I was not disappointed – to the contrary, the tour surpassed my expectations. [For those readers amongst of you who complain that I complain too much, nyaah.]
Continue reading 12. Wine Whine
I enjoy anticipation. As one who depends almost entirely on intuition to guide my life, I am rather good at “regarding a future as probable; expecting or predicting”. Which is not to say that I am ever right about it. On the contrary, I enjoy anticipation because the reality that follows is almost always a disappointment. Nevertheless I find anticipation far preferable to anxiety, which unhelpfully demands the acknowledgement of uncertainty.
In anticipation of stunning views over the Canadian Rockies, I giddily demanded a window seat for the hour-long flight from Calgary to Kelowna. Predictably – although not predicted by me – the Rockies were entirely shrouded in clouds, providing the reality of a rather dull and cramped flight. Continue reading 11. My Kelowna