Fill 'er up

Stefan Arnason, winemaker at Poplar Grove and Monster, will be drinking the Roses from the two Naramata Bench wineries year-round.

Just because the weather has turned cooler, do not stop drinking Rose.

In fact, drink some pink tonight, the rest of the weekend, next week, next month, through the winter and year-round.

Advocates of the catchy ‘Rose all day’ movement have expanded their efforts to position pink as a 365-days-a-year go-to wine.

In the past, by its very colour, lightness and freshness, Rose was relegated to uncomplicated summer sipping only.

But, Rose is exceptionally food-friendly, making it the perfect pairing with salad, chicken, pork, turkey and ethnic foods year-round.

Notice turkey’s on the list, so a bottle, or two, of Rose will be welcome at the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner table.

Stefan Arnason crafts two very different, but equally delicious Roses as the winemaker for both Poplar Grove and Monster wineries on the Naramata Bench.

“Of course, I’ll continue to drink both of them throughout the fall and winter,” he said.

Arnason made the Poplar Grove 2018 Rose ($22) pale and herbaceous in the style of the great pinks of Rose’s traditional homeland of Provence, France.

You’ll also pick up aromas and flavours of nectarine, strawberry, rhubarb, tangerine and even some vanilla.

The Monster 2018 Rose ($17) is riper and bolder from its deeper pink quartz colour to its cherry-and-cranberry profile.

Poplar Grove is so named for the poplar trees that thrive on the property.

Monster is nothing malicious, but a nod to Okanagan Lake’s friendly and mythical beast Ogopogo.

“I’ll drink whites all through the winter too,” added Arnason.

“The Poplar Grove Pinot Gris is my home-from-work-and-relax wine.”

Arnason will look forward to that relaxation even more now that the busy grape harvest season has started.

Poplar Grove began picking Chardonnay grapes this week for its new Champagne-method Sparkling Brut.

The 2019 vintage won’t be available for years, but the 2015 vintage will be released in time for Christmas as Poplar Grove’s first foray into bubbles.

Italy and New Zealand

Naturally, my wife, Kerry, and I enjoy mostly Okanagan wines.

After all, we’re huge drink-local fans, Valley wines are world-class and it’s what this column is all about.

But there is a thing called Okanagan palate.

It’s what can happen if you drink exclusively Valley wines without periodically picking up a bottle from elsewhere in the world for comparison.

For instance, pear-and-peach Okanagan-style Pinot Gris isn’t the only such style in the world.

That’s why Kerry and I were pleasantly surprised by Kris 2018 Pinot Grigio ($20) from Italy.

Bulk-produced Italian Pinot Grigios can be insipid and characterless.

But Kris comes from the higher-altitude delle Venezie appellation outside of Venice and is carefully made.

Therefore, it offers not just the light and crisp lemon and apricot aromas and flavours expected of an Italian Grigio, but the complexity of some tangerine, almond and acacia flower.

We drank it, fittingly, with homemade pizza topped with pesto sauce, pear and brie cheese.

Okanagan Sauvignon Blanc tends to to be more restrained than New Zealand Sauv Blanc.

We discovered that drinking Dog Point 2018 Sauvignon Blanc ($33) from New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region.

It’s a classic, perfumed expression of New Zealand Sauv Blanc with a burst of gooseberry, honeysuckle, grapefruit and marmalade aromas and flavours.

To top it off, its organic under New Zealand’s BioGrow Programme.

Il Mercato’s reopen

After an extensive renovation, 100 days worth, in fact, Il Mercato Social Kitchen has reopened in West Kelowna.

The Italian restaurant on Gossett Road will focus on the same fresh-ingredients-in-a-welcoming-atmosphere approach it had pre-renovation.

“We garden, cook and eat together using the freshest local ingredients for the season,” said chef Darren Kashin.

“We are now ready to do the same with family, friends and neighbours to share food and wine, stories, memories and gratitude.”

Kashin comes to Il Mercato after stints at Kelowna Yacht Club and Craft Beer Market.

All food, from the pizzas, pastas and osso bucco to stuffed chicken and B.C. trout, is served on platters for sharing.

There’s also, literally, a wall of wine.

Rows and rows of bottles, most of them from Okanagan wineries, cover one wall.

All were chosen to pair well with the Italian-inspired cuisine.

While not Italian by heritage, Trevor Jones, who owns Il Mercato with his wife, Julia, has been around bella vita culture and food all his life and apprenticed at Italian restaurants north of Toronto.

Fest of the grape

Today is the last day to snag early-bird tickets for the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association’s Festival of the Grape in Oliver on Oct. 6.

Tickets are $25 at

After today, they’ll be $30.

A ticket gets you into the biggest party of the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival with 4,500 others on the fields of the Oliver Parks & Recreation complex.

Over 50 wineries will be pouring samples, food trucks and artisan booths abound, there’s live on the stage and a hilarious grape stomp, which competitors are encouraged to dress up in costume.

Earth to table

Food, wine, cosmetics, clothing and art – all made sustainably without harming animals – will be on display and for sale at Sunday’s Earth to Table Vegan Market outdoors at House of Rose Winery.

House of Rose is at 2270 Garner Rd. in Kelowna and the free-admission market runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

When you’re shopped out, grab a glass of wine and hit the picnic area to enjoy live music by The Tree Huggers.

Steve MacNaull is a reporter at The Okanagan Weekend. Reach him at Listen to his Okanagan Wine & Dine show exclusively on at 11:15 a.m. every Saturday. If you miss it then, shows are always in the podcast vault.