Last full moon I found myself in the North Okanagan out in the orchard with live music in the air. Branches bowed heavy with fruit, their sweetness flowing into my glass as Jasmine Wong leads a tasting.
The BX Press Cidery orchard extends over 40 ares with more than 30 different apple varieties. Depending on the season, harvest (yes, hand-picked) can reach over 1.5 million apples a year.
The Prospector traditional dry cider offers a clean, crisp, yet earthy tasting, and my top pick. For those wanting just a touch more sweetness, The Hostler, pressed with dessert apples like Ambrosia, Honeycrisp and McIntosh, offers a more modern take on cider.
Each label shows one of the BX characters, a nod to the heritage of the site. The land on East Vernon Road was once part of the largest and oldest stagecoach companies in North America, Barnard’s Express.
The tasting now take on a new twist as we moved into the botanical-infused line of ciders. Let me introduce you to Ginny. With a divine combination of Orris root, coriander, juniper berry, orange peel and rose petal, cider make Missy Dobernigg has transformed cider into a cocktail wonder.
Missy and her husband, third-generation orchardist Dave Dobernigg have been busy expanding the tasting room and are about to open the door to an open-air restaurant this fall.
Heading to join the sold-out crowd gathering on the new orchard-side patio, I’m thrilled to see the fiddle in Susan Aylard’s hand. Tonight the Celtic-inspired Cod Gone Wild band showcases the trio of Aylard, Andrew Mercer and Sean Bray.
Hurry and you may be able to snag a ticket to their next show, this Saturday, Sept. 3 back at the BX Press.
That full moon was going a bit darker by the time I reached the Golden Mile Bench at Oliver to catch up to biodynamic enthusiast winemaker Barclay Robinson at Road 13 Winery.
Heading towards darkness is a perfect time to pull out a bubbly. So began my experiential “It’s just a phase” tasting with six wines and six moon phases. Each of the wines have a moon phase, as a significant portion of the winemaking process happened on that moon phase, whether it was when the grapes was picked, when the wine was finished fermenting, when is was racked off of its solids before being put to barrel.
The traditional method, 2017 Sparkling Chenin Blanc is extremely special. Harvest from some of the oldest Chenin Blanc vines in North America, planted in 1968, and harvested as the full moon was beginning to wane. The wine offers that butter-biscuit goodness presented in a quite dry expression, but the fruit gives it the feeling of sweetness. I found a delightful lemon-line circus note, others may find more green apple and pear.
Chardonnay in the hands of Robinson, is quite divine, especially coming from the estate block.
“Here the more gravelly soil that has more of the mountain runoff gives you more of the complexity on the mid-pallet that we want in a Chardonnay,” he says. “Being on the westside of the valley, you get that evening shade so that tends to temper the fact that yes, we’re in the South Okanagan. Yes it’s super hot, but we get the nice morning sun, the heat of the day and then the cool first.”
Other standouts were the Rhone inspired GSM 2019 red and Road 13’ flagship Bordeaux-inspired 5th Element meritage.
One cannot write about wine and the moon without a nod to biodynamic pioneer, Kelowna’s Stephen Cipes of Summerhill Vineyard. Since the mid 1980s, Summerhill has been a hub for organic viticulture in Canada and a steward of living in harmony with nature. Perhaps it’s time to head up the mountain for a tasting.
The Sippin’ Pretty column by Yvonne Turgeon is published every second week in the Kelowna Daily Courier and Penticton Daily Herald.