Many people go camping on the Labour Day long weekend, taking advantage of the last few days of summer. We were no exceptions. This past Labour Day weekend, Mr. and I, along with CC and DF, went camping in Oliver. You know what Oliver is known as? The Wine Capital of Canada! Obviously we didn’t waste our 4.5 hour drive to Oliver – we spent quite some time at local wineries, and here are some highlights.
About The Black Sage Bench
The Oliver/Osoyoo area has two premium growing areas, known as the Golden Mile (along Highway 97) and Black Sage Bench. As suggested by its name, the Black Sage Bench covers the dozen or so wineries along Black Sage Road. Just about every square inch is filled with grape vines.
With the short stay it’s impossible to swing by every winery on the Black Sage Bench. We picked out ones that we know of, or simply made an impulse turn-off based on how the winery looks.
Now we drink a fair share of wines through the years, but we don’t consider ourselves wine experts. Not even close. We can just tell you what we like and what we don’t like, from a personal preference standpoint. This post is more to share our experience at each winery. We will leave it with the wine critics to actually criticize the wines.
Le Vieux Pin
A French style winery, Le Vieux Pin has definitely gained its popularity among Vancouver restaurants. I have seen its wines appear on more wine lists these days. The most common wine is probably its Rose, Vaila, but also its Petit Blanc and Petit Rouge. Even our recent post on Graze has these 3 wines on the menu.
They’ve got a neat boutique wine shop and you are welcome to sample the five kinds of wine for free. Of the five, we both liked the Sauvignon Blanc, while I preferred the Syrah Cuvee Violette and Mr. liked the Syrah. And we were not alone. As we were progressing through our wine tasting, other visitors were picking up bottle after bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc. We literally saw the shelf of 12 bottles disappear during our short 30-minute stay, right in front of our eyes. It has some fruity flavour, a subtle sweetness that is not commonly found in Sauvignon Blanc. The appeal of it is also the exclusivity. You can only get the Sauvignon Blanc at the winery, or order it online and pay a premium for shipping.
By the way, they are now selling 2012 Vaila Rose, while most restaurants are still selling the 2011 vintage. I personally think the 2011 ones taste better, smoother. I tasted more tannins in the 2012 vintage.
Next, Stoneboat Vineyards is a family-run winery with a cute boutique wine shop. They charge a nominal fee (I believe it’s $3 for 3 wines) for wine tasting, but it would be waived if you purchase at least a bottle of wine.
In the end, the lady was kind enough to let us sample all of their wines. The Chorus and Duet were quite good, but the highlight was definitely the two ice wines. The Verglas 2011 was great, with a floral aroma and sweet, honey-like taste; but the limited edition 2012 Pinotage Ice Wine was just excellent. Pinotage is the signature varietal in South Africa, so BC does not necessarily offer the optimal growing condition for these grapes. However, Stoneboat was able to produce a batch of excellent quality of Pinotage that allowed them to make some ice wine out of it. It still has the Pinot Noir like taste, but it’s sweeter with a prominent nutty flavour. If it weren’t $74.95 each, I would’ve grabbed myself a bottle.
We’ve got 2 more wineries to tell you about, and believe me, you don’t want to miss them! Come back later this week to continue our journey through the Black Sage Bench.