June 27, 2003 Features & Images » Feature Story

A tour of Canada’s wine region 

After a decade of hard work, Okanagan wineries are going for it

Page 7 of 10

"The real market for organic is in the States," says Cipes.

Unfortunately, although he did well in the U.S. when he first took his wine south of the border in 1992, a pricing system with mark-ups of up to 100 per cent made it impossible for him to compete in stores.

Summerhill still fills a lot of personal orders from Americans, and recently Cipes launched his Enchanted Vines series that he hopes will find an audience down south.

The wines are an Alchemy Chardonnay, an Inspiration Cipes Gabriel 1997, and a Solus Foch. These wines were designed to be a little different, and really play up the organic and pyramid power angles.

Lunch at Summerhill was a four-course affair; each one paired with a different Summerhill wine. The salad was organic greens with raspberry vinaigrette and locally produced goat’s cheese, matched to a Cipes Sparkling Pinot Noir from 1993 – everyone in our group bought a bottle when they left, if that tells you anything about our first impressions of Summerhill.

"What you are looking for in a sparkling wine is the intensity and depth of the aroma, the persistent elegance of the bubbles, and good acidity," explains Foran.

"A good sparkling wine can go with anything as long as we are balancing the flavours and weight of the wine, with the flavours and weight of the main flavour component of the dish."

2001 Estate Reserve Gewürztraminer was paired with Bouillabaisse seafood soup. The chicken pasta was paired with an excellent Pinot Blanc 2001, and the chocolate cheesecake was served with a 2001 Riesling Icewine.

After lunch, we were given a tour of the facility before heading off to our next destination.

I can’t speak for the concierges, but I had a little bit of a buzz on.

* * *

Running a little behind schedule, we made a quick stop at the B.C. Wine Museum in Kelowna, which combined a few exhibits of winemaking history in the region with a first class wine store.

Curator Keith Almotti gave us a crash course:

The first wine grown in the region was cultivated by Father Charles Pandosy of the Obelate mission in 1863. The wine was grown for religious ceremonies, while the apples that grew in the area were pressed to make cider.

The first commercial operations didn’t set up shop until 1926, and even back then the emphasis was on quantity, not quality. Labels like Baby Duck, Duddle Duck, Cold Duck and Blue Bird – which featured a picture of a duck – were the common fare of the day.

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