If you haven’t heard of Osoyoos, British Columbia before, you’re not the only one. We didn’t hear about Osoyoos until Devour! Canada’s only desert climate produces some dank-ass wine (yes, we said it) that gives Washington state a run for its money. Devour! Osoyoos brought us five hours northeast of the border to partake in a delectable celebration of some of British Columbia’s top chefs, wineries, and filmmakers in a spectacular weekend getaway experience.
Our weekend kicked off with a cocktail launch party held at the gorgeous Black Hills Estate Winery. Celebrity Chefs Michael Howell and Ned Bell were our hosts for the evening while we sipped and savored local wines and culinary creations. Short silent films played throughout the evening while a lively DJ Shakes kept everyone moving with upbeat tunes.
While there was a serious lack of smack talk at the smackdown, there was a healthy serving of decadent chowders. Five contenders stepped up to the challenge, with Chef Michael Howell winning us over—as well as People’s Choice—with his Chorizo and Smoked Haddock Chowder. The most unique creation was the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts’s Chilled Shrimp, Pea, and Bacon Chowder, winning Judges’ Choice.
Accompanying the chowders was a fine selection of beers. We started with the Hop Chowdah from Cannery Brewing, then the Smoked Porter from Firehall Brewery, and finished with a Doppelbock from Beau’s Brewing out of Ontario.
Wine Tour Afternoon
With our bellies full and well girdled for an afternoon of wine tasting, we hopped onto a shuttle to sample some wine. First was a library tasting at Nk’Mip Cellars (Inkameep), North America’s first Aboriginal-owned winery, in their beautifully designed underground tasting room. We were spoiled with an in-depth walkthrough of eight exclusive wines by our host Joshua.
He expertly guided our group through his selections, taking care to note the the flavor profiles for each wine, the wineries’ history and production process, and the origin of the grapes. It was particularly interesting to see and taste the effects that aging has on wine products. For instance, a shift in a production process, using the same grapes, can make such a significant difference in their Pinot and Merlot. Wine drinkers of all tenures won’t be intimidated in such a setting. We’re still early on in our enjoyment of wine and have plenty to learn, but we felt at ease to ask any questions without fear of a stereotypical wine connoisseur.
Next, we drove ten minutes to Church and State where their sassy wine labels gave us a solid giggle. After such a thorough and formal tasting, it was a nice gear shift to laugh at some favorites like “Happy F#cking Birthday”, “I’d Swipe Right For You”, and “New Phone-Who Dis?”. Our group was entertained by all the various labels available, but it didn’t distract from being able to fully appreciate their fantastics wines.
We suggest doing yourself a favor and lounging outside on Church & State’s airy patio to take in the country scenery. By the time we made it to Young & Wyse, our palates were getting close to wined out (is that a thing?), but the wine and cheese pairing, prepared by co-owner Michelle, the friendly conversation and good company refreshed our taste buds.
The Devour! Osoyoos Gala Dinner was held at Watermark Beach Resort and featured five courses, each prepared by a different chef, inspired by a short film and accompanied by wine pairings, showcasing local wineries, along with select wines from Nova Scotia. The winemaker and the chef who were inspired by this film, explained their respective wine pairings and dish components. Every course was so artfully presented, it was almost a shame we had to deconstruct them with our cutlery! Ultimately, Chef Paul Rogalski of Calgary’s Rouge won over the audience with his smoked Okanagan Salmon on stinging nettle puree, birch bark syrup, juniper needle oil, spruce tip oil, rösti potato, watercress, Poplar Grove Camembert and pickled rhubarb. Such a whirlwind of ingredients did indeed come together for such a mouthwatering dish! The best wine pairing was awarded to Rogalski’s dish served with Church & State Wines’ 2015 Chardonnay.
Hannah Cheesman’s short comic film, Cheese, was chosen as best film. It tells the story of an apparently shy young woman contending with a macho cheese merchant after she’s been assigned to buy cheeses for a discerning hostess’s dinner party. The film has won numerous awards and can be seen here.
Devour! wrapped up with the finest brunch buffet we have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Everything from seasonal fruits, cheeses, charcuterie, eggs benedicts, to all the rest of your desired breakfast fixings was prepared fresh! Not to mention, the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts’s students were on standby for custom made-to-order omelettes. Plenty more bubbly was served of course from Maverick Estate Winery, Covert Farms Family Estate, Kismet Estate Winery, and Church & State while the closing awards ceremony took place.
A true oasis, Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort places guests in the heart of Canada’s premier winemaking region. Framed by drastic sun-drenched landscapes, miles of vineyards and views to Osoyoos Lake, Spirit Ridge is within reach of desert golf, luxurious spa experiences, a winery and a unique cultural opportunity. Featuring attractive Southwestern desert architecture, Spirit Ridge blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings while offering commanding views of the South Okanagan valley. Designed to accommodate breathtaking views and al fresco luxury, Spirit Ridge graces guests with gourmet kitchens, spacious bedrooms, as well as balconies and patios perfect for BBQ’s and moonlit cocktails.
Devour! May be over, but Osoyoos has plenty more to offer for a unique summer getaway. Be sure to check out Destination Osoyoos for the latest events and promo accommodation packages in Canada’s only desert.