The 3rd Annual Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival happened in Osoyoos June 9-12, 2011 and I was excited to be a part of it. This annual weekend of events was a true highlight of wineries, resorts and chefs in the South Okanagan, as well as a fundraiser for The United Way of the Central and South Okanagan. Over 18 premium wineries participated, 3 resorts hosted guests and 7 fabulous chefs showed off their culinary skills throughout the weekend.
The Festival began with a Sunset Sabre Soiree at Spirit Ridge Resort. For those of you who are new to the world of sabering, like me, allow me to explain a little more. Sabering or sabrage is the technique of removing the top off a champagne bottle with a sabre, or sword. Although, as we learned at the event, you can sabre the top off with just about any heavy object with an edge on it. Hammers, hockey skates, golf clubs, barbeque flipper, you name it. Once we sabered the top off, we were able to enjoy a glass of bubbly, courtesy of Summerhill Pyramid Winery.
It was a lot of fun to nibble on appetizers, taste some of the amazing BC wines and watch people carefully select their sabering “tool” of choice as the night went on. Live music by Cafe Jazz kept the assortment of party-goers mixing and mingling.
The next event we attended was Judgement in Osoyoos: the International Wine Showdown hosted by local wine personality Jay Drysdale and held at the Watermark Beach Resort. This was a blind tasting and head-to-head comparison of eight different Syrah wines, with the competitors hailing from B.C., France, California and Australia.
A panel of four experts sniffed, swished and spat their way through the wines, making detailed notes with their impressions and observations about each one. The panel rated their personal favorites and made guesses about which region the wine may have come from.
Each attendee had the opportunity to participate in the tasting and dissection of the wines and it was a lot of fun to have the “big reveal” at the end. The showdown was a great opportunity to learn more about the wines themselves and to see how B.C wines compare on an International level. We were fascinated to listen to the commentary of what the experts look for, smell and taste during the process.
At the end of it all, there was an emerging favorite amongst the experts, as well as the attendees. It was a 2006 Torbeck “The Descendant” Shiraz from Barossa Valley in Australia. Two B.C. wines tied for fourth place.
The last event we attended over the weekend was the Celebrity Wine Auction & Beach Party at the Walnut Beach Resort. The night began with an assortment of wines available for tasting and delicious appetizers created by Executive Chefs Paul Cecconi of Local Lounge | Grille and Roger Planiden of Chef Planiden’s Culinary Adventure. Chef Planiden’s bitter chocolate pate with fleur de sel left us “oohing and aahing” all night. There is nothing quite like the combination of a great wine paired with amazing appetizers.
George Canyon, an award winning Canadian singer and songwriter, serenaded the crowd with an exclusive acoustic performance that showed off his incredible talent. What an honor to experience his music at such a unique event, lakefront with the sun setting in the background.
A combination of silent auction items and live auction items were available to bid on, with proceeds going to the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan. A few of the fantastic live auction items included a Celebrity Chef Dinner & Wine for 10, Helicopter Ride & Great Estates of the Okanagan Tour, as well as a Kovacs Brothers Private Winery Tour. The auctioneer entertained, excited and encouraged everyone to open their wallets and hearts for a great cause.
After the sun had set, guests were encouraged to grab a pair of comfortable flip flops and head to the Beach party, where a DJ from L.A. kept the party going. We were even treated to an impromptu performance by Rosette Luve, another Canadian signer, songwriter and dancer. We had the opportunity to rub elbows with the likes of Aaron Pritchett (another amazing Canadian talent), Erin Cebula of ET Canada, Mike & Mike from MN Online, Jesse (of The Bachelorette fame) and Jacob Kovacs, as well as Lorne Cardinal of Corner Gas and Colm Meaney of Star Trek.
It was fantastic to learn more about the Okanagan Wineries and Owners and discover the passion behind the wine. This event not only opened our eyes to the incredible wines we have at our fingertips here in B.C., but reminded us that drinking wine is all about enjoying it, whether it be a $12 bottle or a $145 bottle.
We attended only a few of the weekend’s great events – there was a lot more fun that was had! We hope to see you at the next Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival. For more information about future events, please visit their website at: www.OsoyoosCelebrityWineFestival.com.