Monday, September 26, 2011

Osoyoos, September 2011

We have just returned from a four-night visit to Osoyoos with David’s mum, Sue.

Osoyoos is situated on Lake Osoyoos at the southern end of the Okanagan, Canada’s wine country.  Just a few kilometers North of the US border Osoyoos is located within the only designated ‘desert’ region of Canada typified by hot dry summers and mild dry winters. Lake Osoyoos stretches across the border into the US but we stayed within Canada for our trip.

The total driving time from Vancouver to Osoyoos is about 5 hours.  We met up with Sues friend Mal and her friends Bridget and Ted for breakfast at Whitespot in Chilliwack on our way.  We then proceeded to Hope and onto the Crowsnest Highway which is a scenic but at times slow and winding route through Manning Park and up over the two large mountain ridges of Allison Pass (4,473 ft) and then Sunday Summit (4,280 ft) before a sharp descent to the town of Princeton.  It is the climb up and over these two mountain passes that dictates the very different climate in the South Coast area around Vancouver from the dry desert region inland from the mountain passes.

A couple of hours drive after breakfast we reach the first good place to stop and stretch legs, in the village of Keremeos.  A village of just 1200 approx population Keremeos is well known within the Province as the place to stop for fresh fruit & vegetables grown in the sun baked valleys nearby. There dozens of fruit & vegetable stands at the side of the highway.

Sue with some of our purchases for the trip, peaches, apples, grapes.

IMG_5712 Views around Keremeos



The Crowsnest Highway winds through the river valley then up over the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area where we spotted a small forest fire being fought by about four helicopters.


After climbing the final ridge of Richter Pass the road descends into the town of Osoyoos.  We find the house we have rented easily, approximately 2kms north of town on a quiet country road alonside the lake.

The house is older and nothing special to speak of, but big enough for our group of 8 and dog friendly.  Also, the house is situated on it’s own 10 acres of vineyard and has 500ft of direct lake frontage.


The long gravel driveway to the house set it back a long way from the road and was brilliantly safe for Mojo to just run around freely.


The house was surrounded by their own and neighbouring vineyards.


Now at the end of September it is very close to harvest time, the vines are absolutely loaded with grapes.


‘Our’ vineyard which is leased to nearby winery Desert Hills.


On one end of the house is a huge covered deck, great for alfresco eating & drinking.


Terrific views of the lake and surrounding hills from the deck.

The view straight out from the deck and living room of our rental home.


The warm (by Canadian standards !) lake at the end of the garden was a real treat.  A few steps from the garden by the house lead down to a gravel and sand beach with a firepit and lawn chairs.


It is a lovely spot to sit and enjoy the view, read a book or enjoy your morning coffee.


Mojo spent most of the four days either in the lake swimming, or up in the house begging for someone to take him down to the lake so he could do some more swimming.   Thanks in particular to Mal who spent a lot of time walking Mojo and throwing his sticks – he loved every minute of it !


Mojo was joined by the crazies in our group who wanted to swim in the lake also.  The temperature was late 20’s C and it was cloudy, not a formula for David or I to be persuaded to get in.  However, Sue experienced her first swim in a lake ever, together with all the older members of our crowd.

Stephen, Sue, Mal, Bridget and Ted.


The lake was quite shallow for some distance off shore.


The location was really superb, a very pretty lake, quite unspoiled, peaceful and quiet.

Early morning sun over the beach.

IMG_5853 More views from the end of the garden over the lake.

IMG_5862 IMG_5863

View of the house from the lakeside.

IMG_5865 David and I on the beach.


Mal and Sue looking down from the garden.


Aside from the climate and the good scenery the other attraction of visiting the Okanagan is that it has over 10,000 acres of vineyards producing 90% of BC’s wine and is the second largest wine producing region in the country after the Niagara Peninsula.  The vineyards feed over one hundred wineries locally, each with their own tasting rooms to sample product before deciding if you like what you taste and want to buy it.

Our first full day we drove up to the Naramata Bench just outside Penticton where we had stayed about one year ago at Sigs parents home and where a number of great wineries are concentrated.

Our happy campers enroute.  Stephen and Andrea.


Sue and Stephen (Mal, Bridget and Ted were following us in their own car).


First we visited Township 7 winery (on each winery you can click the name to see their website). Then we moved onto La Frenz.  David and I at La Frenz.


Andrea, Sue and Stephen at Ruby Blues (formerly Ruby Tuesday).

IMG_5722 The Ruby Blues winery has beautiful gardens and views over Okanagan Lake.




The dog friendly owners invited us to walk and enjoy the gardens with Mojo.


IMG_5729 Myself with Mojo, who has found the nearest piece of shade he could find.


Mal takes in the view.


This has been the third tasting so far today, time for a sit down !  Bridget, David, Andrea and Sue.


The owners of Ruby Blues are definitely ‘dog people’


After sitting at Ruby Blues our non-drivers decide we need to eat to soak up some of the ‘tasting’.  We go on to Hillside Winery before heading over to a table we have booked at Lake Breeze

We visited Lake Breeze and had lunch here a year ago with Sig & Helen.  We were so impressed then we wanted to go back this time.  Yet again, the restaurant was a fantastic experience and lovely place to have lunch.


The Lake Breeze winery.


The kitchens serving the small all open-air patio restaurant.


Our group all sat for a terrific lunch.


I had spaghetti with picholine olives, oven-baked tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and herbed ricotta cheese while David chose the pan roasted halibut with prawn & ginger bisque, corn, peppers, asparagus and steamed baby potatoes.  Yum !


We met up with a group Andrea, David and Stephen knew from BC Childrens who had come up for a couple of days for one of their birthdays.


Views over the Lake Breeze winery, including the impressive owners residence.


Beautiful views over Okanagan Lake from Lake Breeze.


David and Mojo at Lake Breeze.


After Lake Breeze we visited Laughing Stock, made more purchases there and then headed back to the house.

Between us we have a good selection of booty from our first days winery visits.  Many of these wines are only available in restaurants or direct from the wineries so it’s good to buy them up here as they’re not always available from BC Liquor stores.


The following day we took in a few of the wineries close to Osoyoos.  Sue and I at Burrowing Owl.

IMG_5757 The Burrowing Owl estate winery also has a pool, spa, restaurant and guest accommodations.


Andrea looks ready to jump in.

IMG_5762Next we hit an excellent new winery called Church and State before heading to the other side of the valley to Road 13.

IMG_5764 For no explained reason the Road 13 winery is built in the style of a medieval castle. It even came with an authentic ‘creaky door’.   Where are we, Disney ?

IMG_5766 However, the views were great across the valley from the Road 13 site.


We head back towards the house passing some white-bottomed deer.


And enjoy some swimming and nibbles to go with our days booty.

IMG_5825 The following day we mostly relaxed around the house.  David, Andrea and I walked into Osoyoos town which took us past the Little Brown Church.

IMG_5835 Then past the Osoyoos Elks Lodge where they are apparently growing pot.   Only in BC……


Then the Holistic Desert Connection Centre where both you and your pooch can enjoy therapeutic touch ear candling and reiki.  My favourite !

IMG_5837 Equally surreal was the Elvis Jewellery shop in Osoyoos.  What exactly it had to do with Elvis aside from the statue outside is unclear.

IMG_5838 On our way to the supermarket we pass the downtown beach.  Quiet on a grey late September day.


Later that afternoon and following morning we relaxed and enjoyed more of the lake.


Picked fruit from the garden including grapes, crab apples and macintosh apples.



Mojo really didn’t want to go home.

IMG_5903 Final views of the lake on our day of departure.

Another beautiful drive home through stunning scenery.


Before hitting the traffic and grey skies of Vancouver as we cross the Port Mann bridge (new one still under construction next to it).


A lovely few days away, thanks to everyone for all their help and input in making it a relaxing and easy trip.

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