Buzz Buzz Buzz

Here comes the honey.

*Disclaimer: I paid a reduced rate to go on the Wine Blogger Conference Pre-Excursion in exchange for agreeing to write a post about my experience.

Is that a bee I hear? On the excursion I took to Kelowna, BC prior to heading to the 6th annual Wine Blogger Conference in Penticton, BC, I had the chance to watch bee-keeping in action. And taste the fruits (honey?) of the bees’ labor. Did you know that each honeybee produces only a little over a tablespoon of honey in its life span?

Buzzzzzzzzz!

While visiting Tantalus Vineyards, we were treated to a demonstration by Helen owner and chief bee-keeper of Arlo’s Honey Farm.  Helen pulled a frame from one of the beehives to show us the bees in action, softly brushed the bees off the frame, and presented it to us to dig in and taste the fresh honey. I had no idea that honey’s taste could change based on the crops they collect nectar from, though it makes complete sense to me now that I’ve actually thought about it.

Get in my belly.

Helen keeps hives on her own property and at Tantalus and keeps the Tantalus honey separate for the winery.  I tasted the honey from the hives in the patch of wildflowers, and it was delicious. I’ve long known that eating honey produced locally to your residence is supposed to help with allergies, however, I did not know that honey can help cleanse your liver and helps you out if you are prone to hangovers if you eat a bit when drinking. I’m a big fan of honey as a treatment for sore throats and always remember my mom putting honey in our tea as kids, which I still do today. All in all, I found the demonstration fascinating and loved learning about bee keeping. Remember to be kind to any honeybees you see, they play an incredibly important role!

I hate to display my ignorance here, but I can’t figure out how to embed this video I took of Helen during her demonstration, but I’ll link it below if you’d like to watch. Or if you’d like to help of the technologically disinclined, I’d be grateful.

Helen’s Beekeeping Demonstration

Impressions from the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference

Back from my 5th Wine Blogger Conference, held this year in Pentiction, BC, I find myself again inclined to ruminate on what I learned, saw, drank, ate, etc., while spending 4 days in a new-to-me wine region.  Simply because I am tired of repeating myself, please see, in particular, #s 4, 8, and 10 from last’s year’s retrospective on the conference.  Those items still stand for me as takeaways from this conference. And every other WBC I’ve attended.  Despite some of those complaints (and positives), I will be back to attend the 7th annual WBC in Santa Barbara next July.

1.) I no longer look like my picture. After 6 years, this is the first time not a soul made that comment to me. So either I’ve changed quite a bit (possible since I have brown curly hair now…) and I need to update my photo or I’m simply not as present on social media as I used to be. My best guess is a combination of the two. I vow to be better about both things, updating the photo and being more active on Twitter.

View from Summerhill Winery

2.) We could not have asked for a more picturesque place to hold the conference. The Okanagan Valley is simply stunning. Not to mention, the weather cooperated beautifully and the days were sunny, breezy and delightful. I stayed in two locations while in the area, Kelowna and Pentiction. While I can’t choose a favorite, each had its strengths. I’d highly recommend the Manteo Resort in Kelowna for families. I stayed in  a “villa” on the property (basically a townhouse) that had a full living area, separate full kitchen, laundry facilities, 2.5 baths, and 2 bedrooms. The resort offered water sports, pools, playgrounds, a fantastic restaurant, and proximity to many vineyards. At Penticton Lake Resort, I’d think singles or couples would find it more appealing. While still offering water sports, a pool, and proximity to vineyards, it had multiple restaurants, bars, a club, a casino, and more typical hotel style rooms. Both beautiful properties, I’d happily return to either.

3.) That said, a major bummer of the conference turned out to be the inability to bring wine home and being unable to get the wines in the States. You pretty much have to go to BC to taste and drink BC wines. I took home the legal number of bottles (without having to pay extra duty, that’s 2) so I’m pleased to have two (plus 2 others I paid duty on) of my favorites to taste with Mr. Wannabe Wino, I’m disappointed to not be able to get anything else I tasted.

Bee-keeping at Tantalus Vineyards

4.) If you make it to the area, check out Tantalus Vineyards. Hands down my favorite stop of the trip, both for the food, the wine, and the experience. I have a nifty video of the bee keeping demonstration we were treated to ready to post when I figure out how to do so. Two of the wines I brought home, I purchased at Tantalus, including an interesting sparkling brut riesling.

5.) The smaller nature of this year’s conference truly appealed to me. It reminded me more of the first 2 years of the conference. I had time to talk to people. We had many events together. It was more intimate. I made new friends this year. I fully understand the conference is a business, however, at the end of the day, it needs to remain appealing and useful to those who attend. When attendance is almost double what it was this year, that gets lost.

6.) Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Get them any way you can. Even if you have to mud wrestle an Uruguayan for them since they drink most of the wine they produce. Especially the Albariño from Bouza. Stunning wine.

7.) The conference was over-scheduled. Again, I understand that this is a money-making venture. I also understand that I am in no way obligated to attend every event. However, having scheduled events running until 11 pm every night is just too much. Some people actually want to go to bed earlier than that and may miss out on something they’d really like to attend simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t want to be exhausted for the next day of the conference. This particularly struck me on Friday, when we went on our excursion and then were bused immediately to an event over an hour from the hotel with no option to return to the hotel without attending, then had to await buses to take us back. I was wet (more on this later), exhausted, and wanted to leave, but didn’t end up being able to get on a bus home until 10:30 and didn’t arrive back to the hotel until almost midnight. The event the next morning started at 7:15. That’s not enough sleep.

8.) Since I’m recommending wines, here’s one from another region that caught my attention: the 2010 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc.  If you ever get to the Niagra wine region, you should most definitely look Kacaba up. Worth it alone for the Cabernet Franc.

Brodo Kitchen’s chef makes us eggs in the park

9.) A small list of places to eat for sure if you make it to either Kelowna or Penticton: Waterfront Wines (holy cow can that man make a gourmet waffle and poach an egg), Smack Dab (the focus on local beers, with at least 15 on tap, totally won me over), Brodo Kitchen (in Penticton, no website, but they had fresh strawberry juice that rocked my socks), The Cupcake Lady Cafe (don’t be fooled by the name, the breakfast crepes were drool-worthy), The White Apron (fresh made ham and cheese croissants, think pain au chocolat but with ham and cheese), and Hooded Merganser (duck breast poutine, need I say more?).

10.) Go visit Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars. I know I’ve said it before, but he’s sincerely one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure of associating with, and his wines are damn good.

Live Blogging #10 2012 Gray Monk Pinot Gris

The family that originally owned the winery was the first to introduce Pinot Gris to the area.

Light nose, lime, stone, herbs, acidity, green apple, lime, bright, racy. The acidity is fantastic.

Total production is 80,000 cases.

I could drink this all day on my hot porch in the DC area.

Live Blogging #9 2012 Poplar Grove Pinot Gris

Named after the road where it was originally located.

Total production is 2000 cases and it retails for about $20 CA.

Flowers, grapefruit, bright, citrus. Very acidic on the palate, bright, racy, lovely.

Started in 1993 with 1000 cases. Now make 25000 cases.

Fish or chicken with this one, or really, something quite creamy would go well with the racy acidity.

Live Blogging #8 2012 Joie A Noble Blend

Focus is on aromatic whites and roses.

Edelzwicker Blend.

Started the winery on total credit and sold it to their restaurant friends. The following year they had enough interest to make 2700 cases and now make 14000 cases.

Very aromatic. The Gewurz it very apparent. Flower, pear, honey. apple, peaches, very bright and fun. Nice acidity. Green apple.

More wine to serve with spicy food.

Live Blogging #7 2012 Therapy Vineyards Fizzio Blanc

Retails for $23 CA.

It’s a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Orange Muscat.

Chardonnay grapes are 21 year old vines, which is elderly by BC standards.

Floral, honeysuckle, tangerine, very aromatic nose, pear, apple, green apple, nice acidiy.

All the wines so far have had lovely acidity.

I think I’d also like this with scallops or another light fish.

Even on its own, it would be a great sipping wine for a hot summer day.

Live Blogging #6 2012 Hester Creek Trebbiano

500 cases of Trebbiano.

Vines are from the 60s, didn’t get ripped up after NAFTA.

90 acres of vines, all estate wines.

35000 Cases total production.

Apple, pear, slight citrus, nice round palate while retaining the acidity. Slight residual sugar.

I’d like to serve this with herbed chicken.

100% Trebbiano.

Live Blogging #5 2012 Tinhorn Unoaked Pinot Gris

Lime, stone, acidity, light, bright, lemon zest, nice spice, good acidity.

20th vintage for the winery. Started with 1000 cases and are up to 35000 now! Mostly all estate grown.

Have exported to the US in the past. Are upping now and trying to export again.

First winery to have a wine club, first to use Stelvin Screw Caps in Canada.

Live Blogging #4 2012 Tantalus Rielsing

I visited Tantalus yesterday and actually bought a bottle of this to take home with me because I liked it so much. That’s saying something since I can only take home 2 bottles duty free!

Lime, pear, lovely acidity, minerals, very aromatic, lemon, grapefruit, tropical notes.

I’d like this on its own or with some lovely seared scallops.

Total production is 5000 cases.

I really loved this winery.

Live Blogging #3 2012 Bartier Brother Gewurztraminer

New label, new vineyard, new vintage. 4th vintage as a winery. Made at the OK Crush Pad. About 3000 cases for the year, only 150 cases are Gewurztrainer.

11% Semillon blended in for heft.

The owners/winemakers are from the area. Started the winery in 2010.

Flower, honey, spice, apple cider, nice acidity, really well done.

Pair this with some spicy food as well. The acidity in all these wines really rocks.