Enjoying fine wine and cheese at the Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival

photoI admit, I love a wine seminar, and I’ve been making a point of taking in a couple each year at Sun Peaks’ Winter Okanagan Wine Festival.

OKWineFest - cheeseToday’s journey was through the exquisite pairings of some of the finest cheeses available in Canada, with a diverse cross-section of wines from the Thompson-Okanagan region of B.C. And who led this epicurean romp? Representing the Dairy Council of Canada was cheese expert David Beaudoin, and to help unravel some of the mysteries of the wines before us was sommelier Brad Royale.

These two experts set up a personable, informative and often humorous session that opened more than a few eyes to discoveries about cheese, wine and the two together.

OKWineFest - wine & cheeseAppropriately, the tasting began with a beautiful and refreshing Riesling from Intrigue Wines, paired with an earthy brie from Little Qualicum. As Royale highlighted, this pairing is a great choice to start off an evening with friends, or indeed a wine seminar at Sun Peaks.

The next pairing was possibly the most surprising, with a See Ya Later Ranch Gewurztraminer set aside Upper Bench Creamery’s Moody Cow blue cheese. This blue had a very soft, almost liquid consistency, with a flavour that took you straight to the farm it came from. The strength and density of the cheese was set in perfect contrast to the freshness of the Gewurztraminer.

OKWineFest - wineBeaudoin and Royale then moved on to one of the favourite cheeses of the afternoon, a Boerenkaas from Natural Pastures Cheese. That nutty and creamy cheese was paired with a peppery Pinot Gris from Calona Vineyards.

Osoyoos’ Nk’Mip Talon was served with Canada’s number one cheddar – Cow’s Inc’s Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from Prince Edward Island; Fort Berens’ Meritage with a spectacular Grizzly Gouda from Sylvan Star Cheese Farm; and Eruption from Volanic Hills with a creamy yet crystally 6-Year Old Cheddar from The Village Cheese Co.

The seminar concluded, as it would, with a Riesling ice wine from Mission Hill paired with the delightful Tiger Blue cheese from Poplar Grove Cheese.

OKWineFest - cheese2The hosts of the event peppered the session with backgrounds on the complexities of producing the wines and cheeses, along with fun facts about the products too. Now I know why some cheeses might be died orange, or have a rind. And I’m armed too with a lot more background on the wineries local to the Thompson-Okanagan region, and the varietals they produce.

It would take a tome to recount all the details of all the wines, cheeses and pairings – or it would take tickets to the next wine and cheese seminar at a Winter Okanagan Wine Festival. Count me signed up.

Check out Sun Peaks Resort for more on the Winter Okanagan Wine Festival.

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