DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Oliver and Osoyoos wine tour

WARNING: Lots of boring wine talk follows. If that kind of thing doesn’t interest you, scroll down to the pretty pictures.

Hi friends,

Spent the weekend with Babesy* at the Burrowing Owl Winery guest house in Oliver, BC. It’s about a 5 hour twisty drive over the Crowsnest Pass from Vancouver but we got to break it up with a stop in to visit my old friend Wes Makepeace at the family orchard/vineyard in Cawston. They have about 65 acres of Ambrosia apples, Viognier grapes and a whole mess more of things that grow on vines and trees. We took a quick trip on the atv up to the top of the property to check out the view. It was nice to see after hearing about over the years, and I finally got to meet the senior Makepeaces. Good times.

Then it was off to Burrowing Owl where we had reservations for two nights in the guest house. They run a top notch deal up there, beautiful room, great view, and for dinner, The Sonora Room Restaurant. Quick review: Top 5 meals of my adult life. They’re doing good things with a lot of local food and everything from scratch. We tried out some of their library wines (in this case the 2005 vintage) and then had a bottle of the 2005 Pinot Noir with dinner. I’d write more but you can read it on trip advisor. The server knew her stuff, was there when we needed and smiled a lot. Perfect.

That night there was a pretty decent thunder storm and we stayed up and watched the lightshow cuddled in the giant bed. The rain came in buckets, but didn’t last long.

In the morning we had breakfast at the guest house (delicious) and took a tour of the winery. It was just the two of us so it was really informal and I learned a lot about their process. Even if you don’t give a rats ass about wine making, the process is impressive. Plus I love giant stainless steel tanks, so there’s that. Plus they have a $40,000 dollar mass spectrometer. This ain’t my dad’s basement wine production...

After a walk in the vineyard where we got briefly caught in a downpour (thank god for that gazebo, it saved us) we were off to tour some of the other vineyards in the area. We had a couple places that we wanted to see but left the rest of the itinerary up to Natasha at Wine Tours Gone South. She’s quickly building a reputation for her inside knowledge of the area and she took us to the places we wanted to see as well as several we’d never heard of and would never have discovered otherwise. She’s a ten out of ten. I wouldn’t want to tour it any other way. We liked the Gamay and Mirage at Desert Hills, Tried the three offerings from newly opened Platinum Bench (so new that their website is still in Lorum Ipsum!) and then moved on to Quinta Ferreira. Our favourites there were the Obra Prima and a Rose that Babesy tasted every last drop of, the only wine that she finished all day.

Next we stopped at Church and State which could pass for a nightclub instead of a tasting room. The design and architecture are so modern that they really stand out but none of that really matters when you try their Quintessential. It’s a damn fine wine but at $50 it’s not fine enough for me to drop in on. It’s also the only winery that charges a tasting fee ($8). Luckily that was waived with purchase, but still, it sets a tone and speaks to their priorities. We liked the Meritage and it’s more reasonably priced.

After that we were off to Cassini Cellars. We don’t drink a lot of whites but the Mamma Mia Pinot Gris was the right combination at the right time of day and won us over. I’d been told about the Nobilus Merlot but sadly it’s sold out. The Maximus blend would have to fit the bill and after tasting the incomparable Moscoto I had to get that too. Then we headed a little ways north to one of the highlight wineries of the trip. Hidden Chapel is doing some really nice whites, but we’re not much for the whites, so we got into the reds and what a lineup of reds it is. The first one to get the check mark was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was quickly equalled by the 2009 trilogy, and then the 2010 Soul Sister shut us down. Too many good reds to choose from and a really great price. Not to mention the wine is poured by a member of the family who has a real passion and isn’t just a hired goon. Hidden Chapel gets a thumbs up and a bunch of it came home with us.

That was enough for one day but we still needed to eat dinner so we made our way up to Terrafina at Hester Creek Winery. We drink Hester Creek pretty often at home so we weren’t too disappointed that the tasting room was closed by the time we got there, we’d heard good things about the restaurant and wanted to give it a try. The $24 price of the Antipasto platter should have been a hint that it was going to be a lot, but maybe we’d tasted a few too many vintages by then and our judgement was off. It was big, it was good and it should have served four. I had the Halibut which was also nice, if not a bit heavy on the anchovy butter, but after the Sonora Room dinner the night before, it was sadly overshadowed. The 2008 reserve Merlot was a good choice though.

Sunday dawned wet and our scheduled horse ride at Satary Stables was doomed. Not a total loss though as we picked up some cherries and strawberries. They’re really nice folks up there and we’ll have to rebate the ride next time we go up. Their neighbour was our last, and much anticipated, stop on the wine tour. Young & Wyse has become our favourite bottle at home and we we’re very much looking forward to seeing the place that makes the wine we love. In a downpour we pulled up to the tasting room and dashed through the deluge to get inside. Another group was already there on a Sunday morning and despite the weather everyone was in great spirits.

We were disappointed to find out that our favourite blend, the Black Label Collection was sold out and we kicked ourselves for taking it for granted when it was so easy to come by just a few months ago. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot are both top notch wines in their own right though and they made up the last of our weekend purchases. We bought both the 2009 and 2010 Merlot. We won’t take a Y&W wine for granted again. Even on a Sunday morning that familiar taste sets itself apart from so much of the wine we’ve tried. Fans for life.

So that’s it. We’re home, we blew the wine budget for the next several months, and we had the time of our lives. Now let’s see if I have enough willpower to actually cellar some of those bottles...


* not her actual name.

Obligatory road sign shot.

The Makepeace spread.

Burrowing Owl in the middle of a sea of vines.

Stormy night.

followed by a decent morning.


Stainless. Primary fermentation.


Oh so much delicious wine.

It’s not a fancy instagram effect, it’s f1.4

Barrels cost between 600 and a thousand dollars. They have lots.



Babesy goes walking.

Vines and more vines.

rolling hills of vines.

The hidden chapel. It’s real.