The fruit of the vine

Vineyards and restaurants change the Okanagan landscape

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  • Rod Butters uses fresh Okanagan ingredients from 30 to 40 local suppliers at his restaurant Fresco in Kelowna.

    Okanagan Valley B.C.

    Robert Leon

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Okanagan ice wine
Sweet ice wine - a dessert wine made from grapes naturally frozen on the vine ― is challenging to make, but the Okanagan's long, hot summers and short cold spells are well suited to the process. More than 20 wineries make the wine, rendering this a major production center.

Nectarlike and rich, with intense flavors that can range from tropical fruits to citrus, pear, or peach notes, the best ice wines have bright acidity that keeps the sweetness from being cloying. A dessert on their own, they also pair well with cheese - try them lightly chilled with strong blues.

Although Rieslings are a consistently good bet, you will also see ice wines made from Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanc.

Ice wines range from $40 up in Canada for a 375-ml bottle. Two of our favorites are the Paradise Ranch Riesling Icewine 2000 ($50) and the rich Inniskillin Okanagan Dark Horse Estate Vineyard 2000 Riesling Icewine ($60).

Winery touring
The wineries below are open daily; pick up wine-touring maps at visitor centers. Visit www.owfs.com for events and festivals.

Calona Vineyards. Tours at 11, 1, 3, and 4 ($5). Tasting and gift shop. 1125 Richter St., Kelowna; 250/762-9144.

Quails' Gate Estate Winery. Tours hourly 11-4 ($5); tasting and shop. Old Vines Patio serves lunch and dinner into October. 3303 Boucherie Rd., Kelowna; 800/420-9463.

Mission Hill Family Estate. Tours on the half hour 10:30-5:30 ($5); tasting and retail store. At the Terrace, lunch is served alfresco. 1730 Mission Hill Rd., Westbank; 250/768-7611.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Tours hourly noon-4; tasting and gift shop. The Sunset Veranda Restaurant serves lunch and dinner. 4870 Chute Lake Rd., Kelowna; 800/667-3538.

Sumac Ridge Estate Winery. Tours ($5) hourly 10-4; tasting and gift shop. The Cellar Door Bistro serves lunch and dinner. 17403 Hwy. 97, Summerland; 250/494-0451.

Hillside Estate Winery. Tours hourly 12:15-3:15; tasting and gift shop. The Barrel Room Bistro serves lunch and dinner through October. 1350 Naramata Rd., Penticton; 250/493-6274.

Poplar Grove Winery. Tasting; wine and cheese sales. 1060 Poplar Grove Rd., Penticton; 250/492-4575.

Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery. Tours by appointment; tasting, gift shop, and picnic area. 2145 Sun Valley Way, Okanagan Falls; 250/497-8919.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. Self-guided tours of cellars; tasting, gift shop, and deli. 32830 Tinhorn Creek Rd., Oliver; 888/484-6467.

Nk'Mip Cellars. Tours at 11, 1, and 3 ($5); tasting and gift shop. 1400 Rancher Creek Rd., Osoyoos; 250/495-2985.

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