Fill 'er up

Robert Summers is the winemaker at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver who crafted the five reds perfect for winter sipping.

This weekend’s frigid weather will have you reaching for a glass of red.

Here are nine worthy options.

Black currant, blackberry, chocolate and sage positively ooze out of the Harper’s Trail 2018 Cabernet Franc ($26).

Harper’s Trail is one of only five wineries in Kamloops and it capitalizes on its terroir of dry rolling hills of sage and dry grass along the South Thompson River.

Hot summers contribute to concentrated fruit flavours in the grapes.

But Kamloops is still considered a cool-climate wine region by world standards, which means evening, spring and fall conditions are fresh, giving grapes, and thus wines, desirable minerality and acidity.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most popular red wine for a reason.

Vines, which are widely planted in virtually every wine region on the planet, bud late to avoid frost and are resistant to rot and pests.

It produces a thick-skinned grape that translates into concentrated black currant, blackberry, cherry, cedar and mint flavours and aromas in wine.

The wine can be drunk young, or tucked away in the cellar for 10 years to enjoy its complexity in the future.

Bench 1775 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($39) from Naramata is a delicious, classic example of the varietal.

Most people don’t know Cabernet Sauvignon is the unlikely offspring of Cabernet Franc, a red wine grape, and Sauvignon Blanc, a white wine grape, which cross-cultivated by chance in Franc in the 17th Century.

Bench 1775 also uses 66% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 34% Syrah in a combination made famous in Australia.

The winery’s 2016 vintage Cab Sauv-Syrah ($22.50) highlights the best of both varietals with a blackberry-cherry-violet-and-pepper profile.

Bench 1775 Cabernet Franc 2016 ($30) exudes plum and raspberry and begs to be paired with pizza or pasta in tomato sauce.

Hester Creek Winery in Oliver recently released five reds crafted by winemaker Robert Summers that can be enjoyed now for their fresh, dark fruit flavours or aged five to seven years to develop complexity.

The 2018 Character Red ($19) is an approachable blend of Merlot, Shyrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec that will reward you with plum and blueberry flavours backed by violet, pepper and caramel.

Hester Creek’s Selected Barrels program blends wines made from grapes from a number of the winery’s vineyards to create appealing, approachable vintages.

The Selected Barrels Merlot 2018 ($18) is 100% Merlot, but the fruit came from five different vineyards – three from elsewhere in Oliver and two blocks of Hester Creek’s on the Golden Mile Bench.

The 2018 Selected Barrels Cabernet Merlot ($18) lives up to its name, blending three varietals – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – from three different vineyards.

The result is a pleasing punch of cherry, plum and vanilla.

Hester Creek’s Reserve system makes wines exclusively from a particular block of the winery’s old-vines vineyards on the Golden Mile Bench.

The 2017 Reserve Cabernet Franc Block 3 ($26) is made of grapes from 50-year-old vines that are thinned to one bunch per shoot for naturally concentrated and vibrant wine exhibiting raspberry, plum and pepper.

The 2017 Reserve Merlot Block 2 ($26) is made of grapes planted in 1972, resulting in a lush wine brimming with plum, cherry and chocolate.

Dine Around

Dine Around Okanagan – the Valley’s annual two-week celebration of restaurants, wine and beer – is back.

The party runs Wednesday through Feb. 2 with almost 60 restaurants offering special $15, $25, $35, $45 or $55 price-fixe two-and-three course menus with suggested Okanagan wine and-or beer pairings.

Dine Around is organized by the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Association, Tourism Kelowna and Wines of British Columbia to promote eating and drinking out during the traditionally slow period between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day.

Participating restaurants include:


– Time Winery & Kitchen

– Match Eatery and Public House at Cascades Casino

– Villa Rosa Ristorante


– Zias Stonehouse


– Watermark Beach Resort


– Match Eatery and Public House at Lake City Casino


– Gasthause On The Lake

Lake Country

– Chaos Bistro at Ex Nihilo Winery

– Block One at 50th Parallel Winery

– The Garden Bistro at O’Rourke’s Peak Winery

– The Lookout at Gray Monk Winery

– Turtle Bay Pub

West Kelowna

– Old Vines at Quails’ Gate Winery

– Red Fox Club at Indigenous World Winery

– 19 Okanagan Grill at Two Eagles Golf Course

– Il Mercato Social Kitchen

– Blue Saffron Bistro at Volcanic Hills Winery

– Sammy J’s Grill


– Mid-Town Station

– Bin 4 Burger Lounge

– Gulfstream at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel

– Bouchons Bistro

– Vibes Bar & Grill

– Infusions at Okanagan College

– Basil & Mint

– Olympia Greek Taverna

– Match Eatery and Public House at Playtime Casino

– Dosa Crepe Cafe

– The Italian Kitchen

– The Fixx Cafe

– Skinny Duke’s Glorious Emporium

– Hidden Gem

– Sunset Organic Bistro at Summerhill Pyramid Winery

– Smack Dab

– Kelly O’Bryan’s

– Craft Beer Market

– Cactus Club (Banks Road and downtown)

– The Old Spaghetti Factory

– Yamas Greek Taverna

– Central Kitchen & Bar

– Oak+Cru at Delta Grand hotel

– Train Station Pub

– Earls

– Moxie’s

– The Sandwich Company

– The Keg Steahouse

– Lakeside Dining at Hotel Eldorado

– The Table at Codfather’s Market

– Waterfront Wines

– Jack’s Pizza & Liquor

– West Coast Grill & Oyster Bar in Prestige Beach House Hotel

Mix at CedarCreek

A business networking event is inherently more fun when held at a winery.

As such, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s first Business Mixer of 2020 is Thursday, 5-7 p.m., at CedarCreek Winery on Lakeshore Road.

It’s also an excuse to once again celebrate CedarCreek’s recent Canadian winery of the year win at the InterVin International Wine Awards.

Admission is $10 at the door.

Somm deadline Wednesday

Wednesday is the deadline for applying for the B.C. Hospitality Foundation’s 2020 sommelier scholarships of $1,000 each.

Sponsored by Sunrock, Dark Horse, Da Silva and Hester Creek wineries and Andrew Peller Import Agency, the scholarships are awarded to hospitality workers who want to further their wine knowledge through schooling.

Apply at

Steve MacNaull is a reporter at The Okanagan Weekend. Reach him at Also catch Steve’s Okanagan Wine & Dine Show on Saturdays at 11:15 a.m. on If you miss it then, shows are always available in the podcast vault.

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