It is a good omen, I said to C.C. as we drove west through the Rockies into a beautiful rainbow of iridescent colours spanning the valley through which we were driving. On either side the peaks soared into the sky, their craggy summits shrouded in misty clouds, while all around us, fir trees marched up the slopes, a silent army of towering pines protecting our path through the Rockies.
Seven hours after leaving Calgary, we arrived at our destination, the delightful, quixotic and aptly named, Therapy Vineyards and Guest House. Perched on the eastern slopes above Lake Okanagan on the Naramatta Bench, the vineyards are one of 24 wineries that span the 23 kilometre long stretch of land that stretches out along the escarpment above the village of Naramatta.
This is Wine Crush weekend at the winery, which is all part of the fall wine fest happening throughout the southern Okanagan wine region. Once, the wines of British Columbia were considered laughable, a hobby that would never grow into anything worthy of the wine lists of finer dining establishments and collector’s cellars. Now, the wine lovingly crafted from the sandy soils and dry climes of the region are world renowned. Gold Medal winners again and again with some of the harshest critics across the globe, there is a wine for every palate and every plate. And, unlike other regions which may be able to boast great wines and views of vast expanses of hillsides and valleys stretching out for miles, this region also has stunning views of the sparkling waters of lakes that flow into the distant horizon tucked safely into the protective embrace of the soaring peaks of the Okanagan.
When we arrived at Therapy, we were just in time to join our host, wine aficionada and passionate raconteur of all things wine related, Renee, one of the proprietors of the vineyard, for a wine tasting. The sun was warm, the wines mellow and the company cheerful and upbeat. While we had missed the scheduled wine tour that is part of the Therapy Wine Crush Weekend, we were greeted warmly by the other 12 guests staying at the winery who had spent the afternoon traipsing through the hilly vineyards, tasting the grapes on the vine and learning all about the wine-making process. Later, we enjoyed an amazing 4 course meal in the Guest House dining room with Chef Casey and his delightful partner and guest house manager, Natalie. We laughed and chatted with our fellow travellers, and of course, had ample samples of the delicious wines crafted right here in Therapy’s cellars. And yes, it was great Therapy!
And the therapy didn’t stop there. After a delightful breakfast, C.C. and I set out to find the perfect spot for our wedding next April, only to discover, the options abound.
From the elegant restaurant at Bonitas Winery, sprawled out on the western shore of the lake, to Tinhorn Creek’s vast expanse of vineyards and classy Miradori Restaurant, the Southern Okanagan Valley is delivering up lots of choices! While neither Bonitas or Tinhorn are our first picks, we know we’ll find the perfect spot — one of them, Noble Ridge, is owned by a couple from Calgary whose daughter went to pre-school with my youngest. We laughed when we met and shared the ubiquitous, “I know you!” only to realize it was 20+ years ago that we met when our daughters played together in the sandbox. How times change! From sandbox to the vineyard is a lot of grape underfoot! And yes, I know. A really bad pun.
But staying here at Therapy, I’ve discovered there are no limits to bad wine jokes! From, “What a grape view,” as you stand surveying the vista, to “Grape to meet you!”, wine references and puns are everywhere.
And today, we’re off again to explore and learn more and to meet more passionate folk of the Okanagan wine country.
What could be better than a day spent in the sun, exploring the sights and wines of some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet?
Drop into the sites we visited yesterday and see for yourself — truly a paradise valley! I’ve listed them below.
Church & State (Coyote Bowl)