First time to the Okanagan Wine Festival 

Guzzle as much as you like or sip it slowly, this was Oliver’s Cornucopia

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Burrowing Owl is also known for its stewardship of the environment by developing several programs to protect its endangered ecosystem and wildlife. We discussed this with one of the proprietors, who also mentioned their proposed expansion to include accommodation units. Would continued development cause harm to this precious area and its natural inhabitants? We were reassured that strict environmental standards coupled with Burrowing Owl’s mission of highlighting sound enological and viticultural practices will prevent any upset to the area. "It’s standard in this region," he said.

"Inviting people to this area will only help to educate them about how symbiotic the wine industry and proper environmental practices are," I added. Indeed the Okanagan Wine Festival is doing just that. It’s rocketing the tourism industry into the stratosphere: planned developments include a multi-million dollar resort called Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos.

"Peaches and beaches" once characterized the attractions in this area, but time has aged the Okanagan, like a good wine, to a more sophisticated level. There were more than 160 events taking place during the 10-day Okanagan Wine Festival. One can choose to attend winery luncheons, barbecues, vineyard picnics, winemaker dinners, jazz afternoons, pig roasts, a rabbit feast and much more. Prices are Okanagan affordable, ranging from $35 to $85 per person per event and they all honour the region’s liquid goodness: wine.

We chose to attend one of the more low key events that afternoon: a salmon bake at Wild Goose Winery, namely because of proximity to where we were staying. Wild Goose winery is located just south of Okanagan Falls, within the soothing hills of seemingly unending vineyards.

We sat outdoors, listened to live music, helped ourselves to their catered buffet, made conversation with people next to us (visiting Americans from just south of the border), and drank a generous share of Wild Goose Autumn Gold, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer.

As event management goes, this little winery read the book on how to keep people happy. The salmon was delicious, guests won prize giveaways, everyone got a souvenir wine glass, and a fun-loving bubble machine put a sparkle in everyone’s eyes.

A self guided walking tour through the Wild Goose vineyards was pre-arranged with signage along the way explaining the local climate, growing conditions, and the process of harvesting. We gathered a full glass and proceeded, thirsty for vineyard philosophy. Monica made an inspired observation: "I taste peach. And pear. It seems to me the soil ecology that produces such healthy foods is producing the wines and evolving them together in a spiritual sense. Mmm, this is pure Okanagan in a glass."

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