Posts from Naramata

Focus Friday: Aurora

Aurora Over the South OkanaganIt’s tempting to hunker down as the days get shorter, but some Okanaganites wisely embrace the night. Caillum has been finding some beautiful skies lately. We’re glad he’s got the gumption to sit outside late at night, capturing excellent scenes like this.

Aurora Over the South Okanagan by Caillum Smith

Trek-It Tuesday: Summer Solstice at the Little Tunnel

Little Tunnel, Naramata

Solstice 2012 – Little Tunnel, Naramata

Summer solstice is nearly here bearing days of exaggerated sunlight so why not take the opportunity to get out and explore this awesome valley of ours. The KVR’s Little Tunnel sits high on the Eastern Hillside, above the village of Naramata, overlooking the South Okanagan valley with sweeping, panoramic views of its entirety; the scattered ponderosa pine and bunchgrass give way to the neatly manicured vineyards of Naramata and then to the beaches and cityscape of Penticton as Skaha Lake disappears around the bend on the horizon. To the West lies Trout Creek and Summerland tucked neatly at the foothills of Giant’s Head with Brent Mountain prominently sat in the mountains beyond and finally to the North, where if you tilt your head just right, you may be able to peer past Okanagan Mountain Prov. Park to Peachland. Be sure to bring your camera! Especially if you decide to come between the two weeks around summer solstice (June 21) where the Sun sets so far North, it peeks through this incredible, cliff-hanging orifice engineered by Andrew McCulloch nearly 100 years ago.

Little Tunnel, Naramata

Perhaps the best thing about this scenic location is most certainly its ease of access for all ages. The KVR’s moderate grade allows for a myriad of methods to travel the 8.8km round-trip route to the tunnel with cycling, walking and driving being the most common of tactics. Be sure to share the trail.

The KVR Trail above Naramata, BC.

Cycling the KVR Trail above Naramata, BC.

If you are arriving from Penticton or Naramata, head along North Naramata road until you reach Smethurst road, a right hand turn heading up the mountainside, and follow it as it meanders up the hillside and intersects with the Kettle Valley Railway at a parking lot about 5 minutes up. Here you can park your car and walk to the tunnel (~1.5 to 2 hours round-trip) or at least read some of the informative maps and boards explaining the history of the KVR and its significance to the local areas. From the parking lot head North (left as you look uphill) and continue along until you reach the tunnel, or stop at some of the old rock ovens that were built by the railroad workers during the construction of the route. It is also possible to arrive from Kelowna along the KVR and past Chute Lake but is more of a full day trip as opposed to a quick excursion however if you do decide to do so, be sure to check out the Big “Adra” Tunnel, also referred to as “McCulloch’s Wonder” for its horseshoe bend through 490m of bed rock, which is situated en route to the Little Tunnel. Happy ventures.

Big "Adra" Tunnel, Naramata

Big “Adra” Tunnel, Naramata

BC Historic Hotels Series: The South Okanagan

BC Historic Hotels

A pretty incredible view at our history, straight out of the Glen A Mofford Collection. A collage of a selection of historic hotels from Osoyoos to Naramata – most long gone include the Fairview, the Rialto, the Kaladen, the Reopel, the Incola, the Prince Charles, the Okanagan Falls and Three Gables Hotels.

We got this little gem sent to us on Twitter yesterday. This isn’t even quite all of them! Click the image or this link to see history in all it’s glory.

Collection by flickr user glenalan54.

Focus Friday: Naramata Vineyard

Doesn’t this image just scream Okanagan? I know we already put Caillum In Focus back in March, but his classic wine country shot just jumped off the screen a couple of days ago. Let this inspire you to explore the valley this weekend, soaking up the sunshine at the wineries, parks and patios.

Okanagan Wine Country by Caillum Smith

Dana Tanamachi: Chalk Letterer

I came across the work of Brooklyn designer Dana Tanamchi for a post on my personal blog for Faked Potatoes, and was surprised to learn she designed this incredible wine label for Nagging Doubt Wines‘ The Pull with Art Direction by Bernie Hadley-Beauregard & Laurie Millotte of Brandever. I love the use of typography here, classic and hand-crafted.

Fruit for The Pull was selected from several vineyards throughout the Okanagan Valley, including choice locations on the Black Sage Bench, Anarchist Mountain and the Osoyoos east bench. The wine is a Merlot-based blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

The grapes received an extended cold soak, followed by a 20 day vinification to extract colour and tannin. The wine was hand punched daily for gentle handling and extraction of flavours, with 12 months in new and used French and American oak.

Only 100 cases produced in 2010. 2011 Vintage – 200 cases expected, available early Winter, 2013

The QR code on the label even leads you to this very excellent time-lapse video of the label creation.

My Wife’s Notes: 2010 Joie Farm Riesling – Green Curry Baked Chicken over Quinoa

Click here for recipe
Green Curry Baked Chicken

  • half bunch of cilantro
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 scallions
  • 1-2 green chiles with seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small piece ginger root
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Quinoa

  • quinoa
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • juice from 1/4 lime
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Finely chop the lemongrass, scallions, chiles, garlic, ginger. Use a food processor to blend the ingredients with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and a half-bunch of cilantro, saving a couple of leaves for garnish. Once blended into a chunky paste, add the coconut milk, mix briefly, and pour over chicken in a shallow covered dish.

Bake the chicken at 375 for about 25 minutes until the meat is cooked through the middle.

Finely chop the quarter-bunch of cilantro (discarding the stem ends), and set it aside. While the chicken is cooking, boil the water for the quinoa and cook according to the package (usually takes about 15-20 minutes on the stove top). Once the quinoa is done cooking, set it aside on the stove and add the cilantro, lime juice and olive oil, stirring and fluffing the quinoa as you mix.

Place a large spoonful of quinoa on the middle of the plate. Place a piece of chicken on top of the quinoa, and pour several spoonfuls of the green curry sauce over top. Add a few cilantro leaves and serve with a lime wedge.

My absolute favourite white wine is the 2007 Joie Farm Riesling. I first tried it when I was just getting into wine tasting, and it was then I vividly understood that wine could have flavors that weren’t wine-y.  I remember explosions of green apple and honeydew melon, flavors I’d never experienced in wine before.  Of course my fond memory could have a bit of nostalgia bias, but that 2007 vintage sticks in my head like the Holy Grail.

That wine also broke my heart, as it taught me the cruel lesson of vintage differential.  I was disappointed to find that the 2008 and 2009 versions of this wine had substantially different flavour profiles, with grapefruit and pineapple notes taking center stage; still excellent wines, but not what I’d been hoping for.  Now it’s time to see how the 2010 holds up.

Tasting notes from the winery highlight flavors of lime and ginger in the 2010, so I chose to pair it with a Green Curry Baked Chicken over Quinoa, which has both lime and ginger present in the sauce.  This meal was derived from a Jamie Oliver recipe for Thai Green Curry, and tweaked by myself to better pair with the wine.  As an off-dry and medium-bodied white, I suspected it would stand up to a little bit of spice.

My Notes:

Pale gold in the glass, this Riesling has a tangy and citrusy nose; not exactly delicate but not overbearing either.  The first sip is a hit of sweet lime, melon and just a touch of apple, with a surprisingly medium-to-full body in the mouth.  Minerality is moderate, less than one would expect from an Okanagan Riesling. The signature mouthwatering acidity with the off-dry sweetness lingers long on the tongue and leaves you wanting more and more; this wine would disappear quickly while engaged in good conversation.  With lime and melon flavors in the forefront, this wine is closer to my beloved 2007 vintage than the last two years…I sure do miss that blast of green apple though.  The food pairing is exceptional – the lime in the quinoa brings out all kinds of crisp citrus flavors in the wine, and the sweetness cuts through the spice very well.  88 points on its own, 90 with the food.

My Wife’s Notes:

“Fruity and sweet…and citrusy I think?  It’s really good, but that quinoa was AMAZING.”

2010 Joie Farm Riesling. $23.00 from JoieFarm.com

Top 5 Ghostly Hauntings in the Okanagan

I love being scared. I’ve always loved being scared. Whether it’s horror or thriller movies, spooky stories or being caught off guard, being scared is my version of extreme sports. Because I’m lazy. Unfortunately, my partner Adam isn’t a huge fan of the hair-raising, so I fit it in sparingly and when I can. Mix this with a new-found love for local history and I think we’ve got a Top 5 list for A-OK, just in time for Halloween (which is, incidentally, my favourite holiday.)

While other regions in BC may be more ghastly — Victoria, for instance, always springs to mind — we are not without our fair share of hauntings in the interior. Here is a list of my Top 5 unearthly hangouts…

5. Guisachan Ranch (Kelowna)

Many of us are familiar with Guisachan House in Kelowna from the numerous weddings we’ve attended there (or at least I hope this is the case as it’s a beautiful residence). Nearly as many of us are probably familar with it’s reported haunted gravel driveway. I’ve been to two weddings there myself and, while the on-site signage confirms the haunting stopped in recent history, after a few champagne toasts I’m dragging guests out back in the chance we may hear the phantom footsteps that frequented the ranch grounds.

Built in the 1890’s for Governor General Lord Aberdeen and named after his wife’s childhood home in Scotland, it apparently wasn’t long until the clip-clop of invisible horses and carriages could be heard rolling down the drive. Seeming to stop for a moment before picking up again, this tormented coach must have dropped off its ghostly passengers before continuing on its way. While nothing had ever been seen, this spooky sound was heard many times over the years.

4. The Prankster Projectionist (Vernon)

I’ve heard stories of the Town Theatre in Vernon, and even that there is an entrance to the Vernon underground around that area, since I was a child. I think there’s even a Vernon Ghost Tour that runs Mondays and Wednesdays between July 13 and August 31 that probably covers this ground. This particular tale is about the long-time home of one particular projectionist, long dead and bent on making his presence known.

Photo by Sporkist.

One story has a worker coming in early to prep for the night’s show, and once feeling satisfied everything was ready, leaving for a little bit to come back later. He was surprised to find the theatre doors locked when he purposely left them unlocked as he would be returning soon. Even more surprising is that the only way to lock the doors was with the key, and the worker had the only copy.

In the early 90’s, a contracting company was hired to clean the theatre’s 500 seats. Workers carried their own supplies into the theatre and placed them on a corner of the stage. It was mere moments before they found the supplies moved to the other side of the stage, even though no one was near them. Luckily, it wasn’t all bad, the workers were entertained with phantom music while they cleaned, even though the sound system had been turned off…

Continue Reading…

A Traveller has Arrived

Kelowna. Almost smack in the middle of Beautiful British Columbia. What a place! What an utterly different world it is for a fair skinned settler from the blustery East Coast of Scotland. As a teenager and twenty something, the thought had never entered my often over-gelled head that I might one day emigrate here. Yet eight years after I first arrived, here I am— a card carrying member of the great Canadian public.

I first came as a traveler, and like any good one of those, had not much of a plan. As a Mountain Biker and Snowboarder, BC was on my radar. Visions of a new Ocean, of majestic snow capped peaks, and of endless trails under ancient forest canopies held an irresistible allure, and I packed by bag for the Pacific Northwest.

I knew nothing of the Okanagan then, until my newly snagged Canadian girlfriend— a Vancouverite— took me to her Mum’s place in Naramata. I couldn’t believe I was in Canada, the scenery was so removed from the typical image of Canada that most Scots have of the place. It was dry, fresh and mystical. I felt I had ventured up the Coquihalla and somehow ended up in a John Wayne movie, fully expecting to see Rooster Coqburn slumped at the bar of the Camp Creek Station, or spot a couple of indigenous braves astride their horses, looking down from the arid bluffs. The contrast was phenomenal and exciting.

When my travel time was up, my new ‘marshallette’ sold up the contents of her Vancouver rental suite and followed me back to Scotland, swapping new world for old. We spent a few happy years in Ole’ Caledonia, renting a place on a Victorian Terrace next to the canal. We ventured to the Highlands with our hiking boots and mountain bikes and braved the inclement weather. Afterwards as we sipped local ale by the pub hearth, our hearts would turn to the Okanagan. Having tasted summer in the valley, the North Atlantic rain and wind seemed harder to bear. The Lake, the fruit and wine, and the sunshine. The dry clay trails and desert plants- when the time came to return to BC, it took little time to settle for Kelowna.

After two years, we are glad of the move and smile as we watch our two huggable half-breeds splash in the Lake. We eat the best cherries from our own tree and douse our noodles with tomato sauce from our own patch. It is Canada so it ain’t summer all the time, but we don’t mind waiting while riding knee deep in powder!

We love our new base. The Okanagan is great, but you can access so much from here and that is why we love it to. Point your land cruiser in any direction for four hours and you can be in some incredible places in this amazing province. And when we do it helps to remind me of how I ended up here- as a tourist. Even now that it is home, I will always look at this place with those same tourist eyes.