Kelowna and West Kelowna are teeming with so many restaurants and wineries, it’s basically a foodie’s dream-come-true. In order to get a taste (and sip) of what’s on offer, I decided to seek out some of the best of what the region had to offer. After a quick search on TripAdvisor, I found that this would take me on a trip to Quail’s Gate Winery and their Old Vines restaurant as Old Vines is the top rated restaurant in West Kelowna and Quail’s Gate is ranked within the top 10 attractions in the city (mostly behind wine tour companies which take tourists to Quail’s Gate).
We started off with a tour of the winery, beginning back in 1873 with The Allison House. The building is the area’s oldest home site, belonging to John and Susan Allison and their children. As the first farmers in the region, they lived off the land for several years, enjoying the high quality soil and favourable climatic conditions for Canadian agriculture. However, a harsh winter eventually forced them to abandon their home and return to Europe. While the Allisons left, their home has remained in tact and now serves as the winery’s gift shop.
The next stop of the tour took us behind the scenes of Quail’s Gate’s wine making process to their barrels, fermentation tanks and bottling machines.
From there, we moved out to the sunny south-facing slopes of the vineyard where the vines were just beginning to sprout after the winter season. The vines can live for hundreds of years and mature once they reach 25 and at this point, they can be bottled in a special old vines vintage. In addition to the grape vines, the vineyard was also spotted with rose bushes, something I thought was just a nice aesthetic touch before my guide revealed they serve a functional purpose as well. Grapes and roses react to the same diseases spread by insects, but the roses exhibit symptoms much quicker and signal when the vines will require attention.
Now that the tour was complete, it was time to move on the tasting! Quail’s Gate has large variety of wines with a particularly delightful Riesling and Rosé. My personal favourite however was their Foch. Grown from a hybrid grape, Foch is a full-bodied red wine with earthy undertones that pairs well with braised beef and other red meats. As it’s a hybrid grape, its production was previously restricted in Europe, but as its also quite cold hearty, most of its production now takes place in North America.
As part of the tasting, I was also able to compare Pinot Noirs wines from different years and realized that although the wines were of the same vintage and the same winery, their taste had a significant change from year to year.
Following the tasting, we moved on to Old Vines restaurant in time for lunch. I opted to start with an orange and arugula salad and chose the Cache creek natural beef butchers’ cut for my main, paired with the Old Vines 2008 Foch.
The rest of my party went with Dungeness crab cakes, warm beet and buffalo mozzarella salad to start, grilled wild BC salmon and prosciutto wrapped Maple Hills chicken breast for mains, and salted caramel budino and chocolate crèmeux.
After the tasting, I knew the wine was going to be fantastic, but was pleasantly surprised to find the food was also on par in terms of amazing taste explosions!
Altogether, the trip was fantastic and I would definitely recommend Old Vines and Quail’s Gate to anyone looking to take part in some of Kelowna’s wine tourism.
Wineries and Vineyards in Kelowna, BC
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