Fill 'er Up

Blasted Church winemaker Evan Saunders has a fun and scientific approach to making excellent wines.

Blessed are those who drink Blasted Church wines.

No, this is not the start of a religious service, although you might rightfully expect the wines to be divine.

It’s the story of how this Okanagan Falls winery got its name and came to make fun and flavourful wines that deserve to be worshipped.

Blasted Church gets its name from the 1929 expedition by a crew who set off to the deserted mining camp of Fairview (near Oliver) 16 miles away to dismantle an old wooden church and bring it back to Okanagan Falls.

Foreman Harley Hatfield hatched the plan of blasting the church with four sticks of dynamite to loosen the nails to make it easier to take apart and transport in pieces to be reassembled in its new home.

It worked and the 120-year-old church still stands in Okanagan Falls.

Besides inspiring the name Blasted Church, the religious link has led to a plethora of canonized marketing and labels.

For instance, the 2018 Hatfield’s Fuse ($19), a white blend named after foreman Harley, sports a label of a half-naked male angel trying to take his horse through a car wash.

Yes, the iconography is meant to portray subjects plucked from their holy surroundings and plonked into modern-day scenes.

The Hatsfield’s is a true everything-but-the-kitchen-sink blend of an astounding 11 varietals – 21% Viognier, 14% Chardonnay Musque, 10% Semillon, 9% Optima, 8% Pinot Gris, 8% Chardonnay, 7% Gewurztraminer, 7% Pinot Blanc, 7% Orange Muscat, 6% Ehrenfelser and 3% Riesling.

As a result its an exotic beauty with aromas and flavours of peach, apricot, apple, lemon and orange.

By the way, Chardonnay Musque is an aromatic mutation of the world’s most famous white-wine grape.

The 2017 Pinot Noir ($32) won a platinum medal at the recent Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada.

While it’s seriously good Pinot with a cherry-strawberry-and-straw aromas and flavours, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Case in point, the label features Jesus posing for a photo atop a vintage car with a boombox.

Speaking of askew virtuous labels, the Virgin Mary enjoys a milkshake in a diner on every bottle of 2018 Gewurztraminer ($18).

It’s classic Gewurzt with its lychee-peach-and-rose-petal profile.

The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc ($24) delivers on the grapefruit-and-melon front.

Its label is also a deliberately irreverent with a barely-clad female angel lounging seaside with a colourful beachball.

It’s no surprise that winery owner Evelyn Campbell and winemaker Evan Saunders take a similar mirthful approach to their earnest jobs.

After all, they created these excellent, yet farcical, wines from a background of business (Campbell is a Vancouver accountant) and science (Saunders has degrees in microbiology and winemaking).

Food truck face-off

What wine goes best with a comfort-food, pulled-pork sandwich from Kelowna food truck

The Deli Don?

A glass of 2017 Pinot Noir from O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars in Lake Country, of course.

In fact, the match was so inspired, it won best pairing at the inaugural B.C. Wine & Food Truck Face-Off in Kelowna last weekend.

Seven food trucks ringed the parking lot at Okanagan Mission Hall and pumped out food for a sell-out crowd to devour accompanied by wines from seven wineries.

Participants voted for their favourite pairing via app and determined pulled-pork and Pinot the winner.

The face-off is a new event put on by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society and based on its initial popularity, it will be back.

Some of the other food-and-wine pairings included Sparkling Gewurztraminer from Penticton’s Crescent Hill Winery with curried sausage from Peter Ze German Streetfood and The Boneyard BBQ’s ribs paired with Merlot from Summerland’s Dirty Laundry Vineyard.

Garagiste North

You’ve probably never heard of Origin Wines, Lightning Rock Winery, Rigour & Whimsy and

Tall Tale Wines.

That’s because they all produce fewer than 2,000 cases of wine each annually and only sell online.

But what they lack in size, they more than make up with passion and quality small-batch wines.

To expose these wineries and their wines to wine lovers, the Garagiste North Small Producers Wine Festival had tastings last Sunday in the vineyard at Sperling Winery in Kelowna.

Twenty-two small producers set up under tents and poured samples.

“Origin is a homecoming for me and my husband (Blake Anderson),” said Origin Wines co-owner and winemaker Daiya Anderson.

“I grew up in Oliver and Blake grew up in Naramata and I ended up working for Earls as a sommelier in Vancouver and Blake in the film industry in Vancouver. But we’ve come back to our origins with this winery in Naramata.”

The couple does all the work at the winery themselves to produce 1,500 cases a year.

Origin poured four of its wines at the fest – juicy Farmhouse Merlot-Cabernet Franc, tropical-and-caramel Eden Chardonnay, spicy Trio Meritage and pear-and-lychee Gu Gewurztraminer.

Cider of the year

The Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada isn’t all about wine.

It has a cider category in which Kelowna-based

Broken Ladder Apple & Hops cleaned up, winning best cider of the year and a gold medal.

Broken Ladder is B.C. Tree Fruits Cider Co.’s brand and a diversification from B.C. Tree Fruits’ traditional business of selling the fresh fruit of Okanagan orchardists.

Fifty-five cideries entered the Wine Align competition.

As the name suggests, Apple & Hops combines the classic fruit of cider with the bitter-floral-and-citrus flavour of the hop flower used in beer making.

Steve MacNaull is a reporter at The Okanagan Weekend. Reach him at

Also listen to Steve’s Okanagan Wine & Dine podcast exclusively on on Saturday mornings at 11:15 a.m.

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