Five days in the Okanagan – old friends and new wines

On Sunday, May 6th – Day 11 of the trip – I arrived in West Kelowna and got a campsite in Bear Creek Provincial Park. That evening, we met Cathy at the Kelowna airport, and Part 2 of the trip had begun. Over the next month, We’ll wander from Kelowna to Calgary through the Kootenays region, and Cathy will fly home from there on June 3rd.

This map shows our basic route, though exploring in the Tracker could add quite a few miles to that. Click on the map to open an interactive version in a new window.


RV trip map - Kelowna to Calgary, the wandering way

Here’s Tucker in the back of the Tracker at the Kelowna airport, waiting for Cathy to appear.

My little dog Tucker in the car

Late the evening Cathy arrived, we got a visit from Linda Quon, a photographer (and much more) friend who I took on a tour of Yukon high country last September. It didn’t look like our schedules were going to mesh at all, so it was great to see her for an hour at least. Next year, we’ll get out shotting again 🙂

I wanted to head south from West as soon as possible, but had figured out an electrical problem I’m having with the RV’s water pump, and went to Traveland to get the part. It’s the control module at the lower right of the next photo, which is looking up under the retractable steps. Even though I had a photo and part number, two guys spent half an hour on the computer and couldn’t find it. They said that once the parts manager got off the phone, she’d find it and call me. She never did, and we move don to Penticton.

Control module and step control on our motorhome
My first choice for a campground in Penticton was Wright’s Beach Camp, and when they said that we could have a lakefront site, I booked for 3 nights.

RV at Wright's Beach Camp, Penticton

As soon as I hooked my laptop up, I did a search for the part I need, and found it in about 12 seconds. Two RV dealers are located just a couple of miles away, and when I showed my photo to the partsman at Midtown RV, he said “oh, the step control”, and went in the back and got one. He checked my wiring against the one he had, as there were 3 possibilities for my year, found it was correct, then we had a nice chat about one of his regular clients from Whitehorse. What a difference from West Kelowna!

After I got the part, I got sidetracked by steamboats in downtown Penticton – most notably, the S.S. Sicamous. It wasn’t open (no surprise), and a lot of work was being done around it, as it almost floated away during last year’s Spring flooding. The waterfront walkway in wonderful.

S.S. Sicamous in Penticton, BC
The Sicamous was a luxurious 200.5-foot-long (61.1 meters) boat launched in 1914 from the Okanagan Landing Shipyards at the north of Okanagan Lake. For 22 years (until 1936), she sailed between Penticton and Okanagan Landing, with 14 scheduled stops along the way.

S.S. Sicamous in Penticton, BC

Once I got back to the motorhome, I soon had the new part installed and everything is looking good finally. Other than that, Monday was a quiet day, just relaxing on the lakeshore.

On Tuesday, we met a friend from high school and her husband for lunch at the Lake Breeze winery in Naramata, a half-hour north of our campground. The next photo was shot from the parking lot. It was a superb lunch, and it was great to see Jean again and finally meet Larry.

Lake Breeze winery in Naramata
Cathy took this photo of me, with the amazing view from our table on the patio at Lake Breeze.

Lake Breeze winery in Naramata
It was very quiet at Wright’s Beach Camp, as there were only about 30 of the 270 sites occupied. Most of the trailers are rentals – they go for between $900 and $1,800 per week!

Wright's Beach Camp, Penticton
Being right beside the approach to Runway 34 at the Penticton Regional Airport (YYF), airplane watching can be pretty good. This Conair water bomber, C-FKFL, is a 1957 Convair CV-580(F).

Conair water bomber C-FKFL, a 1957 Convair CV-580(F)
On Tuesday night, we got hit by a really wild rainstorm – the noise on the roof of the motorhome was amazing. A soft rain was falling when we got up in the morning.

Rain on Skaha Lake in Pentiction
On Wednesday morning, although it started off calm, the rain wasn’t finished with us yet. This video gives you some idea of how wild and loud some of the cloudbursts were.


We had Wednesday planned for winery touring, and when we started out just after 11:00, hoped that the weather wouldn’t be too bad. We drove past the first winery on our list to have a look at Skaha Bluffs park. The light was poor to get any photos of the cliffs. A couple of locals we talked to said that you can normally step across this creek on a couple of rocks.

Skaha Bluffs park
The Painted Rock Estate Winery is gorgeous – it was clearly started with some serious money behind it.

Painted Rock Estate Winery, Penticton
The patio at Painted Rock would certainly be a wonderful place to have lunch on a warm day. We left with a bottle of particularly fine Cabernet Franc 2015 ($44.99) for some future celebration.

Painted Rock Estate Winery, Penticton
Painted Rock also offered a view of a bit of the Skaha Bluffs, where there are 55 cliffs with recognized climbing routes.


Most of the beach in the next photo is our RV park. In the high-resolution photo, I can clearly see our motorhome left of centre.

Wright's Beach Camp, Penticton
I don’t think I had ever driven Eastside Road, which runs along the east side of Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls. It’s a lovely drive with little traffic, but I expect that it gets very busy in the summer.

East side of Skaha Lake, Penticton
I had been to Blasted Church Vineyards before, and the signs leading to it reminded of what a great sense of humour the owners have. The view is wonderful (of course), and so were all of the wines we sampled.

Blasted Church Vineyards, Okanagan Falls
The “Storytelling Series” of labels tell the story of the blasted church. It was a wooden church in abandoned mining camp, and in 1929, a mining engineer was hired to dismantle and move it to Okanagan Falls. He decided that a controlled blast of four dynamite sticks inside the church would loosen the nails, and he was right except that the steeple blew off and was wrecked. The church was moved and still stands.

The Storytelling Series of labels from Blasted Church Vineyards, Okanagan Falls
Another of the views from Blasted Church. It’s sure easy to see why the Okanagan has become such a popular place for retirees in particular – the lifestyle is certainly attractive. We left Blasted Church with 2 bottles of Small Blessings Viognier 2016 ($35.00 each), and 1 bottle of Cross to Bear Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($40.00).

Another of the views from Blasted Church Vineyards, Okanagan Falls
The Meyer Family Vineyards, which was rated as the #2 small winery in Canada last year, was particularly interesting because of their focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir whose tastes and characters vary by terroir – the micro-climate, soils, and terrain of the vineyards the grapes come from. They harvest from fields from as far away as about 20 miles, and as small as 2 acres.

Meyer Family Vineyards, Okanagan Falls
The view from Meyer Family Vineyards. At Meyer, we added a bottle of McLean Creek Chardonnay 2016 ($33.00), one of Gewurztraminer 2016 ($18.00), and one of Old Block Pinot Noir 2016 ($50.00).

The view from Meyer Family Vineyards
Our final stop was at Synchromesh Wines. I was drawn by the name, and, as expected, the owner and his family are car fans as well as being passionate about wines. This was one of our favourite wine experiences. The owner, Alan Dickinson, was our host, and we enjoyed hearing his story. It’s quite a contrast from the wineries which start with millions of dollars behind them.

Synchromesh Wines, Okanagan Falls
This is one of the views at Synchromesh’s home property, Storm Haven Vineyard, where their flagship wines are grown. They’ve just recently added 105 acres to it, most of which can’t support vineyards – Alan bought it largely to preserve the adjacent wilderness. At Synchromesh, we bought 3 bottles of Thorny Vines Riesling 2017 ($28.00 each), one of Cabernet Franc 2016 ($28.00), and one of Storm Haven Riseling ($40.00).

Synchromesh Wines, Okanagan Falls

Wednesday evening was a very special one for me. A friend from high school and her husband have just moved to Penticton, and invited Cathy and me and 3 other high school friends for dinner. It’s amazing how after 50 years, you can pick up right where you left off with friends. We have a 50th-year reunion coming up in September, and I have no doubt now that it’s going to be a great deal of fun.

The plan had been to continue south and east on Thursday, into the Kootenays. I wasn’t finished with this area yet, though, so I added another night at Wright’s Beach, and we did some more wine touring on Thursday instead of leaving.

We had been really pleased with our wine experiences in the Okanagan Falls area, so drove back there. The first winery was Stag’s Hollow, which the owner of Synchromesh had recommended to us because of their emphasis on unique wines. I actually walked back to get this shot of their driveway as we were leaving because it’s so lovely.

Stag's Hollow winery, Okanagan Falls
With wines including Albarino, Dolcetto, and Tempranillo, Stag’s Hollow was a very good choice for us. We added 2 bottles of Tragically Vidal 2016 ($17.00 each) and one of Renaissance Pinot Noir 2014 ($35.00).

Stag's Hollow winery, Okanagan Falls
Next door to Stag’s Hollow is the Wild Goose Winery, where there were a lot of cars. Many must have been workers, though, because it wasn’t very busy.

Wild Goose Winery, Okanagan Falls
Although we had a winery lunch in mind, a cold wind made the open patio at Wild Goose not very inviting. We did, however, leave with 2 bottles of God’s Mountain Riesling 2016 ($17.39 each) and 2 of Gewurztraminer 2017 ($16.96 each).

Wild Goose Winery, Okanagan Falls
We had gotten 3 recommendations for Liquidity as the place to go for lunch, and once we saw it, that was an easy choice.


The bistro hostess told us that a small table on the window would be opening shortly, so we went for a tasting first, and the timing was perfect. Lunch was superb – Cathy had their daily special pizza pared with a glass of Viognier, and I had their pork sandwich and soup with a glass of Viognier as well, though I immediately knew that their Chardonnay would have been a better choice. Lunches like this are a wonderful way to affirm that you have a really good life – it may only be lunch, but in a place like this, it’s a celebration. At Liquidity, we bought 1 bottle of Viognier 2016 ($25.00), and 2 bottles of their incredibly smooth and rich Dividend 2015 ($30.00 each).


On the way back to Penticton, on a tiny road that we’d seen no cars on, I saw a scene that I just had to capture without a fence in the way. There were no shoulders on the road, and as Murphy’s Laws so often make happen, during the 20 seconds I stopped, 2 vehicles came along, one in each direction. Tourists!! Whoops…


And there we go. Friday morning, May 11th – Day 16 – our souvenirs are packed away and after breakfast we’ll be on our way, with many forecasts of flooding ahead, but sunshine and warm/hot temperatures.




Comments

Five days in the Okanagan – old friends and new wines — 4 Comments

  1. Well, I enjoyed that journey. Kept hoping you might get as far as Okanagan Falls and Tickleberries. They are threatened at the moment by Shuttleworth Creek and there is still so much snowmelt to come down the mountains.

  2. Thanks for helping the local economy LOL That is a nice selection of wines.
    Looking forward to reading more about this latest adventure including how the floods may have made a difference on the route. Also curious to see how the geology book worked out.
    It was great that you had time so we could meet you and Cathy.

  3. Loved the photo of the rolling terrain minus any fences. Looked like could be in California, France or Italy…enjoy reading about your travels, and love the photography!