2015 Kamloops Wine Winners Announced!!!!

Here it is! Our first ever Kamloops Wine Awards Winner’s List!
We had a fantastic wine tour today, stopping in at all four of our fine city’s wineries that are open to the public. Instead of wandering aimlessly through our tastings we decided to go into our tour with purpose, looking for clear stand-outs in nine distinct catagories. There were some really great wines and some fantastic winners! And, unlike our experience earlier this month where we were let down by our winery visits, I am happy to say that all four of our Kamloops wineries were inviting, informative, friendly, and warm! Yay, Kamloops!!
In terms of categories, we were looking for some very consumer-friendly wines. Our list is as follows;
• Best Dinner Wine – White
• Best Dinner Wine – Red
• Best Patio Sipper
• Best Specialty Wine (Rose, Dessert, Late Harvest)
• Best Wine for Gifting
• The Overall Best Kamloops Wine
• The Best Winery for Couples
• The Best Winery to share with Guests
Without further ado, here are our winners!! (Disclaimer: You should know my qualifications in case you are new here… I have four degrees in wine making and tasting from the Wine Academy of Canada and have been a professional wine selector for many years. You should also know that I totally made all of that up. I like to drink wine, I have been sampling wines from all over the world for many years as part of a wine club and have taken an interest in learning more about wine as a result. This blog was born of that interest and the fact that I like wine is my only qualification. Take my advice at your own risk!)

Privato Winery

Our first stop took us out to Westsyde to visit Mark in the tasting room at Privato. I have long been a fan of Privato and, in my opinion, John is the best winemaker in Kamloops. Their wines are great, if a little too pricey for my liking. I was thrilled to see an expanded selection and some lower price points today! They take the crown for;

BEST SPECIALTY WINE – Privato 2014 Rose

Holy Strawberry Shortcake, Batman! This dry rose is like a strawberry concentrate!! But real strawberries are sweeter and simpler. This is so dry, so light and so full of flavour I dare you to try it without your eyebrows shooting up! And at $20 a bottle it is a really great value for the quality of wine you are getting!! Well done!

BEST GIFTING WINE – Privato 2012 Pinot Noir Woodward Collection
This is not your mama’s boxed red, my friend. This is wicked good wine. And at $38 a bottle it needs to be really good wine. This is why we chose it for a gifting wine. It’s a great wine all on it’s own (even at 11am which is when we were trying it). But what really sets it apart and makes it a great gift is that it is great KAMLOOPS wine. It is smooth, clean has wonderful, subtle cherry fruitiness that comes up underneath the warm and rich oak that you taste first off. It is everything a BC wine should be and speaks to our wine roots and environment beautifully. If you are sending wine with guests or bringing wine with you when you travel to present when you arrive this is your bottle. It was amazing!

BEST WINERY FOR COUPLES
This is also a beautiful, quiet place to come with your partner and relax. They sell picnic baskets complete with blankets and pillows for you to go out and enjoy the farm and at $8 a glass for their wines, it’s a nice treat for you and your sweetie. Date night, boys. You will score huge points if you call out ahead and ask them to have everything ready for you before you get there and just whisk her out to sip and take in the vines!!

Monte Creek Ranch

Next we zipped out to Monte Creek since we heard their cheese plate was the bomb. We didn’t see any cheese plates but we did get a nice little tasting and lots of details and info from their tasting room staff. The place is gorgeous and with 40 acres of grapes planted they certainly have no end of selection to make great wines. They use their grapes and do purchase some grapes as well. Lots of development going on out here so keep your eyes peeled and pop in often!
BEST PATIO SIPPER – Monte Creek Ranch 2014 Hands Up White
The Hands Up White is really like the signature wine of this ranch for me. It is just clean, modern, light, slightly sweet… everything that the young, new-world wine drinker is looking for in a wine. Bachelorette Party? Perfect. Ladies Night? Perfect. Catalogue Party? Why, yes. PAC meeting? You bet. Getting your legs waxed? Not without it. This wine is clean, crisp and nice and greeney. I’m not sure that is a word but you’ll get it when you try it. And it’s like $14 a bottle. Perfect price point. Well done!
BEST KEPT SECRET – Monte Creek 2013 Frontenac Gris
So, when was the last time you tried a Frontenac Gris? Never? Welcome to our little club! This sweet grape (literally) developed by the University of Minnesota and does really well in our cooler climate and can withstand our winter. What do you get when you grow a grape that can reach its true potential in your vineyard? Super awesome wine! This is really like a dessert wine. If you buy dessert wine then you know it can be around $40 a bottle. This stuff? Again, it’s like $14 a bottle. Crazy! We chose this as the secret wine because really, I had no idea it existed and it’s a real cool, unique wine. It is very sweet but very, very light-bodied. It is very clean, very crisp and slightly metallic in flavour. It would be great with salty cheeses and crisp crackers before dinner or little chocolate cheesecakes after dinner. Maybe with rhubarb crisp? How Kamloops is that? I bet you will be surprised if you try this wine. It is nothing like you would expect!

Sagewood Winery

Do we turn here? No, wait… go up ahead more. Is this it? Wow, it’s like their house. Are you sure we park here? This place is great. It’s like going to your Uncle’s house for wine!! Situated on East Shuswap road and crowded into a small-farm and country-living neighbourhood, this place is a real gem! You can sit in the picnic area after you squeeze into the tasting room.

BEST DINNER WHITE – Sagewood Winery 2013 Kerner
Finally a white with some body and heft! This lovely white was the first of the day that we felt would really stand up against more than light barbecue fare. It was dry, crisp and clean. Again. Are you seeing a theme here?? This is really what our cooler climate wines are all about. And if you mess with them too much, trying to make them into something they are not, you just wreck them. This wine would do well with any pasta, chicken, seafood or Asian dish you chose to prepare. It’s a little pricier at $20 or so.

BEST WINERY TO SHARE WITH GUESTS
This winery is small. Like, maybe the smallest in BC. No joke, Doug is pretty sure he’s the smallest and if he isn’t he’s pretty close. His tasting room is super squished with four or more people trying to sip. But they have a picnic area and some AMAZING stories to tell. They are passionate about their wines and have great history. They are close to town and really, they are just great people. If you bring out-of-town guests here it will be like you snuck them to a house, unmarked and unknown, to introduce them to some of the best BC wine they’ll find. Really, it’s quite the experience and lacks the commercial feel that the other three have done a good job capturing. It stands apart and this family is just a hard-working farming family that happens to be belting out bitching-good wines! If you haven’t been, you’ll be amazed and it’s unlike almost any other winery I have been to in BC. Do NOT miss it!

Harper’s Trail

We’re no strangers to Harper’s Trail but this was our first visit to the big beautiful tasting room. It’s lovely! And they had some great sales going in there today! Pop out to see what’s new. Their staff were fantastic, welcoming and really knowledgeable. We did get a few sneak tastes of wines not on the tasting menu and I only mention that since it’s happened before. If you don’t find something you like, let them know. If they have something else open they may let you try it. That’s how we bought our last two bottles of the day!
BEST DINNER RED – Harper’s Trail 2014 Merlot
This wine is a really, really young wine. Like, just bottled a few months ago. Normally this wine might be tucked away for a bit before it is sold but, like a lot of BC wineries, they are gearing up to harvest early this year and space is an issue. So out it comes! It’s good now and will be great by Christmas. Dry, just lightly oaked (in French oak, unlike their whites) and with hints of mineral and earth over fruits this was our first ‘steak’ wine of the day. It’s around $25 a bottle. Grab it and hang on to it a bit! It will be worth it!

So there you have it! Our picks for this year! It’s been a warm Summer so next year will probably be a great year for Kamloops Wine as well. Can’t wait for Our Wine Tour, the sequel!! By the Way.. If you plan to visit all 4 pick up one of these… kamloops wine trail passport… to be entered to win some wine!!

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