The Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival

Lenora Hayman takes this opportunity to check out the Okanagan wineries: Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa, Walnut Beach Resort, Watermark Beach Resort & Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Canada’s only true desert.

Via: Lenora Hayman. Article and Pictures by Lenora Hayman
 NK’Mip Cellars with turtle insignia.

For those who enjoy a variety of good food and wine, the Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival gives you a chance to try them both. The Vineyard and Winery team of Black Hills Estate Winery, in Oliver, launched the Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival with the intention of luring celebrities and other fun folk who enjoy fabulous food and vino.  The event I attended was presented by Destination Osoyoos, 18 wineries, 7 great chefs and the 3 resorts, Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa, Walnut Beach Resort and Watermark Beach Resort.

NK’Mip Patio overlooking vineyards & Lake Osoyoos.

My 3 nights at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa, a Bellstar Property, was in a 2 bed-room suite with dining-room, kitchen and balcony. Rather than have a multitude of time-share owners for each suite, no more than 4 fractional vacation-home owners are allowed and when vacant, the hotel rents them.. Offered also are 2 pools, the Passa Tempo Restaurant, the Sonora Desert Spa and 9 hole Sonora Dunes Golf Course.

Patty Bower guide with NK’Mip wines

Also on the grounds is the Nk’Mip (In-ka-meep) Cellars, the first Aboriginal owned and operated winery in Canada. Patty Bower, our guide, explained that Gen. Mgr. Sam Baptiste, a former Osoyoos Indian Band Chief 1977-1985 trained in horticulture and viticulture in Washington State in 1968 and promoted the Nk’Mip grape-growing business. Chief Clarence Louie and the Osoyoos Nk’Mip Indian Band have produced excellent Vinifera grapes. We tasted 6 wines including the 2010 Qwam Qwmt Riesling icewine with its layering of honey, baked apple, sweet citrus and apricot. While eating a warm pulled-wild boar sandwich on their Patio Restaurant, the view overlooking the vineyards and Lake Osoyoos, the warmest lake in Canada, was reminiscent of wineries in Europe.

NK’Mip spa.

Within the resort is the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre with nature exhibits, such as the insect slurpees or Robber Flies, which inject saliva to liquefy the tissue of their prey, so they can slurp their victims’ insides through their straw-like proboscis. Virgil “Smoker” Marchand’s exquisite metal sculptures are not only displayed in their Historic Aboriginal Village, which includes a sweat lodge and pit house, but throughout the resort.

“The Chief” on horseback salutes you on arrival at the complex.
 Lenora Hayman & Sam Baptiste, Gen. Mgr. Nk’Mip Cellars.
 Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.

Bellstar’s 1st venture with the Osoyoos Indian Band was building the SpiritRidge Vineyard Resort and Spa. Now their 2nd enterprise is creating the Canyon Desert Community with individually owned golf villas, a hotel, a wine cave and interpretive centre adjacent to the Nk’Mip Canyon Golf Course in Oliver, 21kms from Osoyoos. We witnessed the first sod-turning by Glen Harris, President of GGC Development, Chief Clarence Louie and Ed Romanowski, the Bellstar Hotels & Resorts, President..

Glen Harris, Pres. GGC Developments; Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band; & Ed Romaniuk, Bellstar Hotel President.

The Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival began on the Thursday at the Spirit Ridge Resort with the Sunset Sabre Soiree where celebrities such as actor Lorne Cardinal from CBC TV’S Corner Gas, film producer Chad Oakes, Colm Meaney from Star Trek, Jesse Kovacs from the Bachelor Pad and other wine lovers sabered off the tops of Summerhill Pyramid sparkling wines with creative implements such as the blade on a skating boot or a handle on a soup ladle. 

 Jason Go-Go with “Organic Expressionism” art

 On Friday evening on the lawn of the Walnut Beach Resort, while a celebrity wine auction was raising funds for the United Way, country music star George Canyon, Chilean- Canadian flamenco guitarist Oscar Lopez and Calgary/Los Angeles rock and roll singer and organic expressionism artist Jason Go-Go had a musical jam session.  The Walnut Beach Resort offered elk and huckleberry tartar and also vanilla cured, smoked sablefish on savoury shortbread topped with blood orange marmalade.

 Wine Auction & Walnut Beach Resort Party.

It was a balmy evening, perfect for pairing fine Okanagan wines with fresh local food. Exec. Chef Jeff van Geest, Sommelier Justin McAuliffe and Restaurateur Manuel Ferreira from the newly opened Miradoro Restaurant at Oliver’s Tinhorn Creek Winery showcased a hollowed-out potato filled with morel mushrooms, wild nettle and potato ragout with organic pea shoots, paired with their Tinhorn Creek 2Bench White 2010 five variety blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon, Chardonnay and Muscat with orange, lemon peel and vanilla notes.

Guests: Ray Lancashire, Lenora Hayman and Terry Lancashire pose with Glen Fawcett, Pres. Black Hills Estate Winery.

 The Local Lounge and Grille paired Sumac Ridge Estate Silver Tribute Sparkling NV with beef carpaccio with bacon salt, a grilled blue cheese sandwich and truffled asparagus, while Chef Planiden’s Culinary Adventure plated a bitter chocolate pate with fleur de sel and rhubarb gastrique for a sweet finale.

Alison Walker & Cameron Smith with pintxos of short ribs.

On Saturday, the Nota Bene Release Luncheon Party was a very lively affair, with belly dancers frolicking amongst the Black Hills Winery vines, the beat of Bobby Bovenzi’s “Nankama Born For It” West African drummers and songstress Adrienne Pierce, sister of winemaker Graham Pierce, pairing music with wine. Nota Bene, a Bordeaux-style, red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc is only produced at Black Hills Estate Winery and the Joy Road Catering paired Nota Bene with grilled pintxos(fine wooden skewers) of red wine braised shortribs, heirloom mini potatoes and Grimm’s back bacon with green salsa.

Bobby Bovenzi & Nankama West African Drum & Dance Group.

 On Saturday evening at the Watermark Beach Resort, we “glammed up” with feather boas for the red carpet and world premiere of mini-films inspired by BC wine.  While sipping more of the Okanagan wines, Ted Kane quipped ” I may own the River Stone Estate Winery, but I love it that my wife Lorraine and all of you consume the fine liquid”!

 Christine Rogan & Chad Oakes, Film & TV Producer.
Lorne Cardinal, Actor & Monique Hurteau, comedienne.
Gillian Moffat & Lenora Hayman at Vinos Wine Film Fest.

Cheers everyone!

Story and Photos by Lenora Hayman

Last updated December 17, 2020 by Matthew George – Webmaster

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