Monday, September 16, 2013

The Long Road Home

It would seem that, no sooner than the 2013 BCWAS Bus Tour had started, it was over. It was one jam-packed weekend - plenty of laughs, wine and food. But regular life - read, "work" - was calling and, as much as I would have liked to keep on keeping on, I needed to hit the long road back to Vancouver.

But not without a couple of quick stops along the way.

For some time now, I've been looking forward to checking out Painted Rock's brand spanking new - and spectacular, I might add - tasting room. We actually timed it (almost) perfectly because the "ribbon" hadn't been cut on the grand opening for even a week. I say "almost" perfect timing because, unfortunately, owner John Skinner was back in Vancouver and we couldn't enjoy the new digs with its "proud papa." In retrospect, it might be a good thing that John wasn't there because there's no way we would have been able to fully take in everything there'd be to tell in the short time that we had. A group of us had booked one last "side" tour and tasting and we were definitely cutting our time short if we were going to arrive in time.

Painted Rock may have the newest showcase showroom but everything about Culmina Family Estate is brand new. After six years of preparation, Don and Elaine Triggs (Don being the Triggs of Jackson Triggs - one of Canada's best known and lauded wineries - before he sold his interest) threw open the doors to Culmina. Quite the character, Don took our little gang for a quick visit into the vineyard where he relayed all the decision making that went into the site selection and planting for his dream of producing a Bordeaux wine to hopefully rank up with the best that BC - and the world for that matter - has to offer.

Don was very generous with both his time and his take on the BC wine industry. We'd seen some pretty crazy machinery over the last couple of days - some of the "toys" (that are anything but) at Mission Hill and Poplar Grove were of sorts I'd never seen before - but Don has spared no expense in pulling together some of the sharpest equipment to be found. That dedication is even more inspiring when you consider that Culmina is currently producing a fraction of what the big boys are producing.

The culmination of Don's years of experience in the wine industry, I'll be sure to open one of his wines soon so that I can give a fuller recount of our visit.

Culmina was my last stop before heading home and, since Culmina is on the Golden Mile below Oliver, it made sense to continue down to Osoyoos, connect with Hwy 3 and take in the views of the Similkameen Valley - one of my favourite driving routes. I wasn't stopping at any of the top notch Similkameen wineries this time (say "hey" Orofino) but with vistas like the one below, can there be any wonder why the valley and the Hope-Princeton hit countless "top scenic driving routes?"

As entertaining as this long weekend might have been, it certainly kept me away from the computer. And that, unfortunately, just compounded the number of wines I still have to blog.

Heavy sigh.

PS. Just for those who know that I was on Boo's "No Buy Leash," personally, I think I was pretty well behaved. I only bought a total of four cases of wine. Not bad, I figure, for 13 wineries and what's likely one of the biggest VQA bottles shops in the entire province. (Well, four cases if you don't count the one that was pre-ordered at Red Rooster that I was just picking up - and I don't.)

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