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Weekend (wine) Wanders: Penticton Edition

September 21, 2016

Travelling as much as I do means it's sometimes hard to build lasting relationships. No not the romantic kind (#catchflightsnotfeelings) but those long lasting friendships. It's hard to find people who truly understand and support the way you live your life and are always "there" for you even if that means 4 am messages because of a time difference. I'm lucky to have a few of these people in my life and one such person that conveniently lives right across the US boarder in Washington State! 
We met as roommates in Auckland, NZ in 2014 from totally different walks of life & soon became quick friends..fast forward to September 2016 & we've managed to have 2 other reunions here in Vancouver before she moved a little further south & we struggled trying to get plans together to meet up again. Struggled that is until a few weeks ago she asked me about somewhere in BC that could be half way for us to meet in...cue the little travel hamsters running amuck in my head & a little visit to trusty google maps & we had it PENTICTON! In the heart of BC's wine country & the perfect place for us to meet up for a weekend. And that's just what we did this past weekend.

I had been wanting to get to Penticton for sometime now, and with summer (sadly) starting to taper off I knew I didn’t have much time. So within the day, we had both taken the time off work, mad arrangements & had a solid plan of meeting up in the Okanagan. Barely a 5 hour drive from Vancouver (for me) and about the same from Liberty Lake, WA (for Kat) we started to get our planning caps on to make the most of the weekend. We looked into some hikes, some restaurants & most importantly some damn good wineries. Prayed to the weather gods & anxiously awaited the weekend to come around to be reunited.

 

Which brings us to last weekend & an awesome reunion. It’s crazy how no matter how long it’s been between certain people you can honestly just pick right back up where you left off. And that is exactly how it is with Kat & I. After far too long of a ride for both of us I met Kat at the hostel (HI-Penticton) quick change & headed out for what would turn out to be one of the best meals I’ve had in while. Theo’s. A greek joint, a few blocks from the hostel & with a line up well outside the place we were a bit worried. But while waiting we got a glass of wine & caught each other up on life before being seated in 10 minutes or so. The restaurant itself makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a Greek Village (although I’ve yet to go to Greece I imagine it to look like Theo’s restaurant) mixed with the secret garden. After being seated it wasn’t long until we were met with amazing service and even sooner after amazing food. It was recommended to us by the manager of the hostel who had a suggestion for just about every single meal & appetite so huge shout out to Lisa from HI-Penticton for that! After dinner & the long drive/day we called it an early night so we would get the most out of Saturday.

Sadly the forecast for Saturday wasn’t nearly as amazing as Friday but we were destined to get our wine on (as you do in Canada’s wine country) we weren’t too bothered. We took a stroll down to Front st. where every Saturday morning they put on awesome markets, and although it was raining we checked out most of them before ducking out of the rain to get some coffee and do some wine planning for the afternoon. We toyed with a few ideas, one involving us driving out to wineries of our choice for the day or doing a tour. I’d been recommended a tour through Coconut Express that takes you to 5 wineries on the Naramata Bench as well as picking you up & dropping off it included the cost of the tasting & only ran us $50/each. So we hummed & hawed but decided it best to forgot getting behind the wheel & worrying about how much we were having & to enjoy the day rain or shine so we booked in for the 2pm tour (they offer 10am & 2pm). Pre tour we decided to head North out of Penticton a little ways just past Peachland & Summerland to a little trail we figured we could do even if the weather didn’t cooperate. The drive itself was stunning along the lake & we managed to find Hardy Falls with no problem. Just next to a trailer court there’s a well marked trail taking you in the to the forest over a few foot bridges over streams until you get to the falls themselves. In addition to some pretty wicked falls we also managed to see a whole lot of salmon swimming up river! As soon as we turned back the rain started in a bit heavier & we figured with a few hours before our wine tasting adventures we’d head to one winery not on the tour.

 Little Engine Winery also on the Naramata Bench & opened up this past June. A perfect location & a décor to die for the rain didn’t even deter from the views. We seemed to arrive before anyone else (which happens when you start wine tasting at 11am) and enjoyed the amazing service of Nicole (1 of the owner, the second being her husband) who made us feel as if we were drinking wine in the company of a good friend. We spent some time exploring the winery itself before heading back to meet up with Coconut Express.

 Coconut Express advertises small size tasting groups which is awesome, and it was just that -Kat & I + 6 other ladies made up our group for the day. While some of the other members of our party were a bit too into snapchatting the whole afternoon we made quick friends with 2 down to earth ladies & chatted wine & travel while tasting it up. In all we visited 5 wineries/tasting rooms including:

Perseus
Bench 1775
Mocojo
Lang Winery
Ruby Blues

 


And while all of them were great my top 2 of the tour were definitely Bench 1775 and Mocojo. Bench 1775 boasts stunning views & even with some cloud cover it was still incredible, right over dozens of other vineyards (including their own) and the lake the views are breathtaking. The actual winery itself is a great set up & life music was on offer when we arrived & we even got to witness a proposal (she said yes!) which added to the atmosphere for the day. Then Mocojo, probably the most unique winery I’ve been to. Diane & Kon, a happily married couple with 3 kids started this out of the garage of their house and now have turned the house into the winery & live upstairs. Laughs were had, great stories told & on top of that they are quite high up on the Naramata Bench that the views are insanely gorgeous! All in all it was an awesome afternoon and if you’re headed up to Penticton & looking into a wine tasting tour, Coconut Express has definitely got you covered!
From there it was back to the hostel to hydrate (responsible wine tasters always hydrate & snack of course) relax and find a spot for dinner. The sun decided to finally make an appearance for a great sunset as we walked around Skaha Lake, stopped for a drink & got some dinner at a restaurant on Front Street.

 

 

 

Sunday it was up nice & early to take advantage of the great weather we were promised & get in a last winery or two before Kat & I sadly parted ways until the next reunion. We made our way up to Munson Mountain first & man we were stoked to find not a single other person up there the whole time we were. It’s titled as a hike online, but to be fair you can see the parking lot from the top and we did it in flip flops so it’s more so a view point with a steep walk up. Either way the sweeping views get everything Penticton has to offer in a 360’ view. The mountains, the lakes, the wineries & the incredible homes below. It was definitely worth waiting for the sun to shine to head up there.

We took in 2 last wineries, Painted Rock & Hillside before it was back across the border for Kat & a (far too long) bus ride back to Vancouver for me.

 

I love that I have people in my life who within a few minutes of chatting can decide to meet up in a new place on a weekend. The last year has taught me to appreciate these people more and more & value the time we do get to spend together because it is so few & far between. Who knows when we’ll get to meet up again but we’re always planning & looking for new adventures to take off on. Penticton was a grand success & I will definitely be making my way back out there soon to check out a whole lot more wineries we didn’t get to on our trip!

 

 

 

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