It’s winter in Lake Country, and the wineries along the Scenic Sip are inviting you for some Flights & Frostbites. ’Tis the season for some cozy fires, live music, market vendors, and holiday crafts.

Whether snow greets festival goers or not, the stunning vistas of the vineyards and fine wines will surely put everyone in a festive mood. The wineries are decking their halls and opening their doors for the two-day event, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 26 to 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Start the cheers for the return of this annual holiday celebration by raising a glass of 2018 Gray Monk Odyssey Traditional Brut. A visit to one of B.C.’s original wineries is not to be missed, and the team at Grey Monk has an impressive portfolio offered up for tasting – including this gem of a traditional sparkling brut. Aged on lees for 25 months in bottle, this brut showcases delicate bubbles, a creamy mouse, and yummy brioche and apple and pear notes. Traditional in every sense, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this is a must-have holiday wine.

For the serious wine taster, reserve a sit-down tasting; for the Christmas crafter make time for the wreath-making session with grapevines from the Gray Monk estate. Don’t miss heading down to the bistro for lunch, or just take in the stunning 180-degree lake view and a complimentary cup of mulled wine.

Lake Country has a lot to raise a glass to. For fans of bubbles, here’s a chance to taste a variety of sparkling styles and grapes. Peak Cellars offers up a bone dry méthode classique in their 2020 Sparkling Riesling. Arrowleaf Cellars uses the Charmat method for their 2021 Wildblume, a gentle sparkling where secondary fermentation occurs entirely in tank before bottling. The 77% Vidal and 23% Auxerrois blend will give you a fun yet tart glass full of green apple.

For another unique northern varietal, pick up the 2020 Peak Cellars Grüner Veltliner. With 95 percent of the world’s acreage of this white wine grape grown in Austria, the five acres planted in Lake Country in 2012 means this is a rare sipper. Crisp and acidic to start, lovely rich texture and warm tropical guava fruit notes delight mid-palate.

(The circus will be more than in your glass, as Peak Cellars is planning a winter carnival of games and prizes.)

The natural features in this part of the valley echo some of the famous wine regions in Europe. The mountains and lakes in the Okanagan, with their warm summers and cooler winters, are similar to many parts of Austria, where the lakes are the moderating influence. Similarly, our mountains create a rain shadow effect, leaving the Okanagan Valley a nice dry spot for grape growing. 

This northern latitude wine region is famous for its Pinot Noirs, and the 2020s are yet again stellar, offering a true expression of this terroir. Look to 2020 Gray Monk Pinot Noir for a bouquet of fruit and 2020 Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir for deep complexity.

On any day, a visit to Ex Nihilo is a wonderland, thanks to the passion proprietors Jeff and Decoa Harder have for wines, art and connection. With walls showcasing stunning and evocative paintings, a visit to this winery can flood our senses. For Flights & Frostbites, wander through the holiday marketplace of local vendors before heading inside to see the artwork.

Since 2020, the portfolio has been in the most capable hands of winemaker Jim Faulkner – a complete collection of B.C. wine, from Lake Country Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Noir, to soft expressions of Naramata Syrah to the stunning 2020 Night Bordeaux blend, sourced from the South Okanagan. Some wines are wine club exclusive, and that club is soon to reach capacity as it exceeds its current 2,800 members.

Check for some winter supper events curated by Chef Danny Tipper for the winery’s bistro.

Tastings will be by donation on both days at all the Lake Country wineries – all proceeds from donations to benefit the Lake Country Food Bank.

[Top photo] Visit this winter wonderland during the holiday celebration of Lake Country wineries Nov. 26 and 27. The tasting room at Arrowleaf Cellars offers stunning views of the vineyard stretching up on the banks of Lake Okanagan. 

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