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Penticton & Naramata


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Weekend after next there are eight of us going on a golf weekend to Oliver, (we're actually staying in Okanogan Falls and playing golf in Oliver). After golf one day I'd like to head up to Naramata to check out some wineries. Any advice as to which Naramata Bench wineries to hit? Also, after that we're going to stay in Penticton for dinner, where should we go? I'd prefer to avoid pubs and was thinking about Earls/Milestones/et al as a last resort, but would prefer something else. This is a group of eight thirtysomething guys, so please no antiques or tearooms, but it doesn't need to be a sportsbar either. Preferably a good solid restaurant.

Any tips?

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In Naramata area try La Frenz, Poplar Grove, Red Rooster and Kettle Vallley. Actually try them all there's about 8 or 10 on the bench. Can't help with Penticton restaraunts but someone else will chime in.

Cheers,

Anne

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I'd second the vote for Red Rooster. It's my favourite in Naramata. Elephant Island is also unique and worth a visit, for its fruit-based wines - like cherry, blackcurrant, crab apple, cassis. Quite unique, and it's serious wine, not shit-made-outa-stuff-other-than-grapes.

If you've got time, I'd think about checking out a couple of wineries before heading up to Penticton/Naramata: Burrowing Owl, Gehringer Bros and Tinhorn Creek in Oliver; and Hawthorne Mountain and Blasted Church in Okanagan Falls.

Penticton's not exactly a mecca of fine dining, but Theo's is a good spot for Greek food. And though I haven't been, I've heard good things about Villa Rosa for Italian.

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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In Naramata area try La Frenz, Poplar Grove, Red Rooster and Kettle Valley

Agreed, all good and close together. You should probably call ahead, as some, like Poplar Grove, are only open limited times with limited product. La Frenz has some great new releases out right now. Steer clear of Hillside for now.

As for dining, Penticton is a culinary wasteland. (sorry, any Penticton people out there, but it's true) Amazing considering the great produce and wines nearby. You're best off in a pub, like the Kettle Valley Station (something like that) right near the golf course in Penticton, they have pretty good pizza. The greek place is awful, and that Villa Rosa is terrible. Call the folks at Burrowing Owl Winery and see when the restaurant is open.

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Definitly go to Black Hills and try their Note Bene while in Oliver.. And i agree with EatBc, Penticton is a culinary wasteland, i spend my summer there every year in our cabin, and we never even go to town. Though if you look at the magazine Eat, they had a good article about the Okanagon and mentioned a few good places (Actually I think they said there is a gret Thai restaurant in Oliver). I think the magazine is still on the newstand

DANIELLE

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

-Virginia Woolf

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The greek place is awful, and that Villa Rosa is terrible.

I think you're right about the Greek place. My wife reminded me last night that it was, in fact, crappy. I was confusing it with another place.

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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Just up in Naramata last week. Red Rooster 2002 Merlot was solid, the new winery/tasting room is a big improvement. I second the recomendation re Elephant Island, the dry pear wine and the sweet apricot is good. Re La Frenz I had a glass of the 2003 Viognier at the new wine bar in Oliver, The Toasted Head, and it was classic style soft floral wine. The big surprise was Lake Breeze , the food was excellent (chef Markus was at Cafe il Nido in Vancouver) and the new 7 Poplars Chardonnay was a steal at $17.90, (I had it pre-release... it may be out by now)

If it's slower than me.

Dumber than me.

And tastes good.

Pass the salt.

Anthony Bourdain

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I can definitely second Poplar Grove - we were up there for the Spring Wine Festival and grabbed some of both - also the Inniskillin Zinfandel, if there's any left. And do try to get some of their cheese - amazing! As to Restaurants - check with some of the wineries as to whether or not their patios are open - the one at Lake Breeze looked very good. The following site lists the wineries with phone numbers and whether they serve food (no reviews, though).

http://www.winedining.net/bcwine.html

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Penticton is definitely a no-go zone for eating. In Naramata the Heritage Inn might be worth a try because that is where Grant deMontreuil has landed. Burrowing Owl is absolutely a must for dinner.

I agree with all the recommendations vis a vis the wineries. La Frenz, RR and Popular Grove are not-to-be-missed in Naramata; in Oliver, Black Sage, Burrowing Owl, Fairview Cellars, Tinhorn and Inniskillin. If you are in OK Falls do yourself a favour and stop by Stag's Hollow. Their Merlots are really good but they also have a fun summer white - Seriously (or Tragically) Vidal. (I can never remember which). Their Pinot Noir is also quite good but I have more experience with their Merlot. It can also sit for a while and just gets better and better. A varietal to look for is Cab Franc - a number of wineries are producing a very credible wine with this grape. One of my current favorites! Have fun - eating and drinking local in the Okanagan is one of the real joys of living in BC. I wish I could get away and indulge myself - the thought of all those cheeries makes me swoon.

Cheers,

Karole

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When we're stuck for a good nosh in Penticton, we head for Vecchio's, where the made-to-order Italian sandwiches are delicious and a wonderful bargain for $2.99. Always lined up. Pick up a handful of cherries and you can have a picnic lunch for under five bucks.

Mahdina's at Lake Breeze Vineyards - about 10 minutes from town on the Naramata bench - has the best food in the vicinity. The menu is interesting, varied and well-priced. I had an excellent calamari in a red pepper salsa paired with a glass of Semillon a few days ago. The patio restaurant also has the best views on the bench. Lunch only for the time being, but they stay open all afternoon.

The wines are very good, too, especially the Semillon and Pinot Blanc.

On September 11th, The Naramata Bench Winery Association is having a Tailgate Party at Lake Breeze, so if you are lucky enough to get a ticket, you can get the food, view and wines from all the wineries in one package.

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So we're just back. Skipped dinner in Penticton, only half the group came to the wineries as a result.

Hit La Frenz, Red Rooster and Lang. I'll be honest, I really have very very little to say about the wines. The problem is the tastings you receive are so absolutely miniscule, that any type of educated assesment is impossible. The niggardly few drops you are doled barely coat the sides if the glass. They are doing themselves more harm than good, economizing on tastings. A wine region with a rep for thin over cropped grapes should probably do everything to enhance the full bodied aspect of the wine. If I can't coat my tongue, get enough so that the vapours can hit my pallette, what's the point? I understand It was a long weekend, the freeloader drunks are out, but seriously, don't offer tastings if you're not going to show your wine in the best possible light. Lang used glasses that has a thimble sized bowl that opened out like a flower, so swirling/sniffing was out of the question. By all means charge a tasting fee that allows you to recover the cost of the wine, then pour an ounce into my glass. La Frenz charged two bucks a head, then proceeded to pour like they were dispensing anti-venom.

Went to Blasted Church the next day. They had a pretty good Pinot Noir, but then again it was basicly impossible to tell. Tried the Lemberger. There's a reason why Lemberger is an unknown varietal. This wine had a colour that would scare the guy that puts in the dye at the Kool Aid factory. Shocking pink, with a neon hue. Fair enough, it closely resembled our eyes, being that it was 10AM Saturday morning when there, but still. Out comments ranged from "I've never seen an iridescent wine before" to "that stuff is the same colour as the nail polish favoured by twelve year old girls. It was frightening, and not particulary tasty either.

For some bizarre reason we decided to stop at a Greek restaurant in Hope for dinner Sunday night, something to do with the Euro Cup and the Greek victory. I dunno, I didn't vote for it. Anyways, it was called Papandreas, and was the first spot you hit when headed west taking the first Hope exit off the Hope Princeton highway. I had the roast lamb. You know what? It was really really good. Moist, flavourful and perfectly fall off the bone cooked. Pretty much everyone elses meals were disasters, but the lamb was pretty damn good. Kraft Italian dressing on the greek salad was a unique culinary choice made in the kitchen, but hey, who am I to second guess, they were the cradle of civilisation after all.

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