I promised I’d finally get to posting this now that my blog is up & running on again here. In typical Alanna form, we’re only 8 months late to the party. It’s a little ridiculous, I know, but hey, it may just be perfect timing for that trip to Kelowna you’re planning this summer! We’ll go with that.
N & I had decided to stick closer to home this year after our big Europe trip last summer. We were buying a house & knew we shouldn’t spend a lot of money on travel, but still wanted to do something to celebrate our first year of marriage. My childhood friend was getting married a couple days before our anniversary so it worked out perfectly for us to spend some time in Kelowna afterwards too.
The fires in Washington were pretty bad at this point, so our drive was like this for most of the way. Normally you can see for miles when you’re out on the Coquihalla, so it was surreal to have such poor visibility.
We arrived safely in Kelowna in the late afternoon & checked into our hotel. We’d stayed at the El Dorado on our wedding night, but it was such a quick stay that we didn’t get to fully appreciate this gorgeous boutique hotel. We ended up with a gorgeous suite this time around (Thank you Hotel El Dorado for the incredible upgrade!) complete with kitchen, living room, jacuzzi bathtub in the bedroom (what?!), & incredible view of the marina & Lake Okanagan.
Our gorgeous suite
The marina at the El. The haze from the fires was pretty thick all weekend.
Dressed up for a pre-anniversary dinner
For our pre-anniversary dinner, we decided not to stray too far from the hotel & made a reservation at their lakeside restaurant. Even if you aren’t staying at the El, I highly recommend having dinner there. They have a beautiful patio on the lake, & the restaurant inside is equally stunning. I’ve eaten there four times now (twice for dinner, twice for brunch) & have been impressed each time. The service has always been fantastic & the food is top notch too. This time we shared salmon gravlax to start. For our mains, N went with beef & I had the lamb. Both were beautifully prepared & came in huge portions. It made me feel better about spending a little more on dinner since we took home some amazing leftovers. We also splurged on a bottle of wine from one of my favourites in the area, Quails’ Gate.
My handsome dinner date with the Salmon Gravlax
We weren’t quite ready to head to bed afterwards, so we headed out to the patio for a few more drinks. The smoke on the water gave the lakeside such an eerie feeling. I almost felt like were in London on a foggy fall day, but it was actually quite warm & pleasant outside.
Eery lakeside view
For our anniversary, I had booked a Wine Tour through the El Dorado. They arranged everything for us so all we had to do was mention which wineries we were interested in & be ready to go outside the hotel that morning. Our tour was called the Daytripper & featured 6 wineries as well as lunch at Terrafina at Hester Creek. We had picked that one since we were not very familiar with the wineries near Osoyoos & figured it would be nice to have someone driving us around so we wouldn’t have to worry about tasting too much.
Waiting for our ride
Our tour guide picked us up early in a large van (apparently they do Bachelorette parties too – how fun!). We had one other person on the tour with us so it was pretty intimate & he tailored our stops to our specific interests. It was perfect!
Our first stop was LaStella, a small winery just up from Osoyoos Lake. We opted to sit outside on their patio despite the smokey weather. They brought us out a lovely assortment of wines & talked us through each one. I truly loved them all, & found the naming of their wines after musical notes charming. We couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle to start our collection – something we continued at every stop. We went with the Pinot Grigio – Vivace – & I just noticed that we still have it. We’ll have to open that when N is home next, I think!
Hard at work
Our next stop wasn’t far down the road. Maverick is another small batch winery. Earlier that summer, they had come dangerously close to a wild fire. Luckily, the local crews kept the blaze under control & saved their vines & winery. You could still see the scorched earth up the hill. I can’t believe how close it was. We chose to take home a Pinot Noir this time. We’ve since enjoyed that bottle & I’m quite sad we didn’t pick up a few extra bottles at every winery.
By this time, we were almost ready for lunch so we headed over to Hester Creek. They seemed to be bigger than our first two stops, but we enjoyed the tasting & the wines just as much. We decided to add a rosé to our collection here, as our tour guide enthusiastically recommended it. He also insisted we do one of the premium tastings, which was covered in the cost of our tour.
Our lunch stop was at Hester Creek’s restaurant, Terrafina. Their menu & decor is inspired by Tuscany. You’ll find lots of Italian food here & they are pretty well-known for their pizzas, so that’s what N & I went with. The lunch size is perfect to keep you going through however many more wine tastings you have planned.
Next up, our guide had arranged a very special tasting at Culmina. This was by far my favourite tasting of the day. It was so private & intimate, just the four of us with Elaine Triggs herself & a new member of their team. Learning the Triggs’ story (yes, those Triggs) & everything that went into making this winery a reality was the most wonderful experience. Elaine is a fantastic story teller & what they have created as a family blew my mind. We’ve been saving their wines for a special day & I absolutely can’t wait to enjoy them again with N. If you do one wine tasting in the interior, make it a Reserve Tasting at Culmina & sit down with these wonderful people. You won’t regret it.
We purchased two bottles from Culmina because we thought they were both so unique. The saignée (their rosé) is one of the coolest bottles I’ve ever seen, with a glass stopper instead of a cork.
The building is absolutely gorgeous too!
As a syrah lover, I was especially excited for our fifth stop: Burrowing Owl. They have some beautiful ones here! The views from this winery were said to be stunning & the food is supposed to be great. We may have to make a return trip when the area isn’t covered in a smokey blanket. This winery is also home to endangered owls, hence the name Burrowing Owl. This is another bottle that I can’t wait to open. We’ve definitely been rationing our stores – it’s hard to find so many of these anywhere but the actual wineries, so I have a hard time opening them.
The last stop on our tour was LaStella’s French sister – Le Vieux Pin. I had specifically asked to visit this winery before the tour. No only do they have the best Syrah’s in the area, but we also considered it for our wedding the year before. I had seen some spectacular photos of events on the grounds, but wanted to see it in person, & taste their wine.
Their goal is to pay homage to the wines & winemaking traditions of France, & I certainly think they deliver on this. They have three different Syrahs to choose from & we tried, & enjoyed, all three. We purchased a bottle of the Cuvée Violette, which we plan to age for a few years before drinking.
Six wineries later, it was time to head back to Kelowna. We were pretty tired after a long day, & I was unfortunately not feeling my best. (Great timing eh! Sick on our anniversary – hurray!) We napped a bit on the way back & then got ready for dinner. I’d booked us a table at Summerhill to celebrate. We sat on the patio & reminisced about our wedding night. Once again, the food impressed me a lot. I had an amazing steak, complete with bone marrow on the side. N went with the duck. Once again, he thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great end to a fantastic day.
The next day we were headed out to Vernon to see my grandma. We slept in & then stopped for lunch at Salted Brick in downtown Kelowna. They make their own charcuterie, so I opted for the ploughman’s lunch. N went with an amazing pulled pork sandwich. We sat outside on their front patio & people-watched as we ate, asking ourselves how it was that we still hadn’t started our own charcuterie shop (as we’ve so often discussed).
We couldn’t go to Kelowna without stopping at my favourite pastry shop, Sandrine. They were responsible for our wedding deserts & make the most incredible macarons. If you ever happen to be there, I’d definitely suggest stopping in. The rest of their stuff is pretty great too, but I’m definitely partial to the macarons. Sandrine also happens to be from Lyon, so she’s the real deal when it comes to French pastries. 😉
I also really enjoyed their sign explaining the difference between a macaron & a macaroon, the former being far, FAR superior to the latter, of course.
So that’s what we got up for our anniversary in Kelowna. I love exploring the area & the wineries around it. I hope to get to do a lot more of it too – there’s still so much I’d love to see!