Chef James Holmes at Black Hills Estate Winery

I’ve talked a lot about Chef James Holmes on the blog this year, for good reason.  I have been lucky enough to have our paths cross multiple times in the last six months.  He has provided many great taste moments for me this year so I am happy to share with everyone.  But, before I get to that point, here is the story.

Because of everything that happened at the beginning of the summer I wasn’t sure if we were going to get away for a holiday. Our dear friends offered to host us again in Osoyoos and I was able to move things around so we would still be able to enjoy time with them.

We had it all planned and then the night before we were set to drive out, two fires broke out in Oliver, which is just north of Osoyoos. I began to think that I wasn’t going to get that holiday after all. Even though there were some close calls in that area that night, by the next day things improved and we ventured out on the drive, one day late.  The fires were still there but for the most part everything was contained and safe.

Oliver Fire

I’m so glad we were able to go.  Yes, there was smoke while we were there but we still had a relaxing time. I really love it down there with all the fruit orchards and wineries, it really is paradise.

There is a sign over the highway at Oliver that says “Welcome to Oliver, the wine capital of Canada”.  When I read it my son said, “Well Mom, this is the place for you then.”  My next post will be devoted to the wineries I visited while we were in the Oliver and Osoyoos area but in this post I wanted to specifically talk about food.

One of the places I wanted to go eat at was Black Hills Estate Winery. That’s because earlier in the summer Chef James Holmes announced that he would be moving from Canmore to Oliver to cook at Black Hills Estate Winery.

The meals I have had so far from Chef Holmes’ kitchen have been complex.  He is fun and likes to play with his flavours.  Like the PB & J, the P standing for Pork Belly, that I had earlier this year at the Canmore Uncorked Festival.  It’s even his dream to be on Chopped Canada and I know when he was in Canmore he would have his friends put him through their own basket challenges.  It was always interesting to see what he would come up with.

But I think the beauty of his move to Black Hills Estate is that the menu is simple.  It has to be.  The purpose of the kitchen at Black Hills is to complement the Black Hills Tasting Room.  Chef Holmes does this by creating salads and pizzas sourcing ingredients from the amazing bounty around him.  And even though we didn’t have it that day, there is a mouth watering charcuterie board on the menu.

We could have very easily spent the afternoon there.  The patio off the tasting room has an amazing view of the mountains across the way while you sit poolside.  If you are a member of the Black Hills Wine Club you are welcome to sit in the poolside cabanas and drink wine and eat food.  It all sounds pretty great to me.

Black Hills Estate Winery Poolside

For us though, we just stayed in the tasting room, enjoying a full flight while sampling the menu.  It really was a treat because our Wine Ambassador was so knowledgeable about the Black Hills line up that he guided us through the flights and food with style.

Black Hills Estate Winery First Flight

We decided to start with Chef Holmes take on the Hawaiian, called The Penticton.  And instead of ham and pineapple it has prosciutto and cantaloupe. One bite of this pizza and my husband was soon to understand what all the fuss was about.

Black Hills Estate Winery The Penticton

The Penticton – House Tomato Sauce, Prosciutto, Citrus Basil, Le Petit Clos and Fester Farms Cantaloupe, Mozzarella, Estate Dried Herb Blend

We also decided to have the Nicoise Salad, which had some of the freshest vegetables I have ever had.  Just down the road is the farm where Chef Holmes gets all those vegetables.  And that’s what makes this menu so special.  Where he can he sources all the food locally. And on a side note, I particularly loved Black Hills Viognier paired with this salad.

Black Hills Estate Winery Nicoise Salad

Nicoise – Grilled Rare Albacore Tuna, Poached Potato, Soft Boiled Egg, Cherry Tomato, Kalamata Olives, Estate Herb and Lemon Vinaigrette

Then because we could, and there was more wine at the table we decided to order a second pizza.  The Vegetarian combined pear, candied pecans, mushrooms and blue cheese. It tasted amazing and my husband, who doesn’t eat nuts, couldn’t get enough.

Black Hills Estate Winery Vegetarian

Vegetarian – Okanagan Pear, Candied Spice Pecan, Upper Bench King Cole Blue Cheese, Truffle Garlic Soaked Mushrooms

I was so thankful that we were able to head over to Black Hills and I was able to have another meal from Chef Holmes.  He is working his magic and I am excited to see what his next adventure will be.

Black Hills Estate Winery Chef James Holmes


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