It was our first day in Osoyoos and it was gloomy and raining. My friend Andrea decided it would be a good day to go for a little wine touring. Being the wise woman she is, she arranged for her Uncle to be our designated driver, loaded up her van with water, cheese, pretzels and snacks, and made sure we had sitters for the kids. Then we were on our way for our own little wine tour. And just as we got started the sun started to poke through the clouds and we were ready to get started.
Our first stop of the day was Silver Sage. We walked in and their tasting room was packed so we were told to come on up to the bar. There is a good reason why they are so busy, they have such great stories that go with their wine and they keep you completely entertained while you enjoy their product. They have big bowls of pretzels and cheese to cleanse your palate between tastings. And their wine is so unique; it is full of fruit with sweet rich flavors.
My favorite was the Flame, a dessert wine. This was unlike any wine I have ever tried. It is flavored with apricot and stone fruit, and finally with a pepper. Yes, they stick a hot pepper right inside. You can try the hot or the mild and I decided to stay with the mild. The first sip you take is peppery and spicy, the second is not as intense and the last sip your tongue has acclimatized to the shock of the pepper and you can taste the sweetness of the stone fruit. This is the bottle I walked out of the store with as I have never had anything like this before. It was a good choice to start the beginning of the tour.
We hopped in the van and drove to our next stop just down the road to Church and State Wines. They have a beautiful facility settled among the hills and as you sit at their tasting bar you look past the window to the barrels. You can pay eight dollars to try four of their wines and they will waive the fee if you buy some of their wine. Actually everywhere we went did that. Even though this was one of the most expensive of the tours we were at, the fee was reasonable as they gave you a good one ounce pour of each of these wines. The wine was good but nothing jumped out at me so I didn’t purchase anything here.
Our next stop was close by, the castle on the hill, Road 13. Road 13 had the best view of the day. Their facility looks down past their vines into the valley. We went in and paid our three dollars to try five of their wines. And they were great but we wanted to try a little more so Andrea and I paid ten dollars to go try the Executive Tasting. We were escorted into the back where they had a little restaurant set up with floor to ceiling glass windows enhancing the spectacular view. Back there we were allowed to sample all of their wines as the owner shared with us the stories behind each wine. I am not a white wine drinker but here at Road 13 I found my taste for it. In particular I loved their 2012 new release of Viognier; it was crisp, clean and surprised me. This is the bottle I took away with me. When you come to Road 13 leave a little extra time to go back to the Executive Tasting Room, you won’t be disappointed.
It was time for us to rejoin our group and venture on to our next stop, Stoneboat Winery. This little winery was tucked right beside the road and was not very big. However, the sunshine was streaming through the windows and the bright colors welcomed us in. At Stoneboat you pay three dollars to sample three of their wines but again, if you are buying bottles you can try more of their wines.
This was my favorite winery of the day. We started out with their sparkling, the Piano Brut. I really like Nino Franco’s Rustico Prosecco and this sparkling reminded me of that wine. It was not too sweet and tickled my taste buds. Their reds were also full of bold flavors and I loved the Pinotage from 2011 so I bought a bottle of that as well. Andrea also requested that we try the Verglas ice wine and I’m glad she did because it was sweet and bright. It was the perfect way to say farewell to this hidden treat.
We stopped next at a winery that was new to Andrea, Platinum Bench. This was smaller but what was special about this winery was the Artisan Bakery sign that is out front. Yes, they sell bread in the morning and also provide bread samples with their wine tasting. Now the wine was good but the bread is what grabbed me at this place. It was fresh out of the oven, with a different cheese baked in each one and delicious. With the Pinot Gris they served a little piece with camembert, next was the Gamay with swiss and a spicy peppered sausage and we finished with their Benchmark Red with the gorgonzola and fig bread. We were told that they would be soon selling their bread online. You will be able to buy it frozen and bake it at your home. I am really excited for this and will be watching out for them.
Even though we had been out for a while we decided we were ready for one last stop. Andrea guided us to Desert Hills, another winery she hadn’t visited before. We were greeted at the door by their dog and entered inside. We sampled many wines there and were surprised with their bold flavor combinations. I know it was the end of the day but really, I enjoyed my experience here. I thought the Rose we tried was the best of the day and I brought this home as well as a bottle of the Gamay.
The most fun thing of the day though? We were starting to see some of the same people that we saw at the other wineries and there was a camaraderie going on, people in search of good wine. What a wonderful quest! It was such a great experience but we did have to get back to our kids. However, I knew I would have to get out and try this again before we left.
And I did, so stay tuned for day two next week.