Over the course of the winter, most area ski hills feature libations and food events; great après-ski activities for those on the hill for a weekend, and a chance to learn about local wines, beers, and spirits for those who may be visiting, in one spot. Saves having to figure out who’s open, as well.
Penticton’s hill, Apex Mountain Resort has welcomed the beer event Brewski, a sell-out, for several years, and each March welcomes Vertical and Vintages with the wineries of the Naramata Bench. It’s a good send off as the ski season starts to wind down in anticipation of spring, and a great way to get a sneak peak at wine from the bench.
The Gunbarrel Saloon provides tapas-style bites, there’s always a large cheese board, and some sort of tasty little dessert mixed in with sliders and other small bites to keep you going.
As for the wines? Over the winter, your favourite winery has probably had its bottling line going for whites and rosés, soon to be released for spring. While up on a snowy mountain it may seem odd to taste typically lighter styles, it can be good prep work for winery visits to purchase a few bottles once they are on the shelves. And, you may be able to brag that you are one of the first to taste an upcoming release.
Of course, after a day of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and general winter fitness, you may be more in the mood for hearty reds; there are plenty of those as well. Nearly two dozen wineries spread out over two adjoining rooms…plenty of choices whether you’re looking for favourite wine, or wanting to try a few sips from the Naramata Bench for the first time.
The evening wraps up with live music in the Saloon, and dancing if you still have some energy. Lift and accommodation packages are available so you can make it a weekend.
Can’t get up to Apex? Some area wineries are open year-round, others open their tasting rooms on select days or weekends, and if you call ahead for an appointment, you can taste local Okanagan wines before the busy season begins.
Portions of this article previously appeared in the Penticton Western News.