Wine Tour @ Van Westen Vineyards

One of the things I love most about living in wine country and Penticton, is the variety of new wineries popping up every year. One day I decided to visit a winery I had never been to before. As we were driving along the Naramata Bench I saw a sandwich board on the highway that said Van Westen Vineyards Winery. So we took the next left and found our way to this…new to me winery! The Van Westen family were fruit farmers here since 1954. However Rob Van Westen decided to try his hand at growing grapes about 12 years ago.  This will be the third year that the winery will be open in the summer. Previously it was hit and miss or by appointment.


As we pulled in to the driveway we were greeted by the winery dog named Brew. Don’t be alarmed by his size he truly has a gentle soul!

Brew the wine dog

Brew the wine dog

The tasting room is inside this large warehouse, garage style building. It’s not  flashy, but then again, I’m here for the wine, not the décor! It does however have a wonderful Okanagan Lake view.

We gathered around a wine barrel converted to hold a bucket of wine bottles, with a table area for your glasses and tasting notes.  A very clever idea indeed.

Wine Bar

Wine Bar

The tasting began with the 2013 Pinot Grigio, a wonderful summer patio wine.  A nice clean crisp refreshing wine with hints of pear and apple.  The second wine we tasted was the Vivacious! I love that name. It’s a 40%Pinot Blanc & 60% Pinot Gris blend. It had a stronger flavour than the first wine, and she said this would pair nicely with white meats like chicken or fish. It has a nice sweet aftertaste. The third wine was the Viognier. A percentage of it is oaked so the wine has more body. However there is no oaky taste because the barrels are 6 – 10 years old. She said this pairs nicely with seafoods like crab etc.

While I was tasting the white wines, my BF and DD was taking interest in the unique things found around the winery.  The first thing he noticed was a bladder press. You put the fruit/grapes inside and the rubber bladder expands and squishes the juice out.  (The days of purple feet are over my friends) 🙂

Then he looked up and saw a giant moose head.  I mean this thing was huge. This photo doesn’t do it justice.  As the story goes, in 1904, (yes 101 years ago) this moose kept coming in to the town of Naramata and he was becoming a nuisance. They kept chasing him out of town and he kept coming back. So I guess you can say his days were numbered.  But his legacy lives on, and story continues to be told at Van Westen Vineyards and Winery!


Barrel Room

Barrel Room

Now we entered the barrel room to taste the red wines. The temperature is controlled to around 16 degrees in here. There were three wines to taste.  The 2010 Voluptuous is 77% Merlot and 33%  Cab Franc. I senced the flavours of plum in this wine. We followed the first wine with a tasting of the same wine from 2011.  Same vines but a totally different taste.  She described how even the wind and weather can have an impact on the taste of the wine, which is why year to year the wines differ.  I preferred the 2010. The last one was a 2010 V…roman numeral five. It’s their Bordeaux style blend. Merlot, and Cab Franc, with a bit of Malbec, Cab Sav, Petit Verdot! It’s a really full bodied, full flavoured wine. It pairs nicely with gamier meats like duck or lamb.

Red Wines

Red Wines

The wines at Van Westen are also vegan. They don’t add any artificial softeners, so the tannins are bolder than some other wines that use them. This also enables you to cellar the red wines probably up to 10 years.  They will soften over time. So no fish protein and no egg whites! This is important if you have an egg allergy!

As we were leaving the winery we bumped in to the winemaker Rob Van Westen. He told us the story of the Lapin Cherry. Apparently it was created through crossbreeding by Dr. Lapin at the research station in Trout Creek. His dad took the first risk at planting them over 40 years ago, and now they are grown all over the world.  So it’s safe to say the oldest Lapin cherries in the world are grown on this property.

I had a lot of fun on this wine tour and heard some wonderful stories. I would highly suggest you plan a visit to this winery. They are open Friday and Saturday and long weekend Sundays until July 1st, then they will probably be open daily over the summer. You can also call for a tasting appointment.

Please note: I am no wine expert. I just like to drink it!



The View

The View

The Winery

The Winery


Day 2 – Get er done! 10/26/13

Driving through Oregon is TORTURE! Not only is the speed limit 55 with cops everywhere, but is it just me or is the font size smaller on the road signs? Roc sympathizes with Sammy…Because he can’t drive 55 either. The strategy for getting out of Oregon was to just stay behind the Semis. It worked.

And of course, 20 seconds in to California, the speed limit changed to 65 then 70!  Of Course the road didn’t change at all, just the speed limit.  We were so excited to see that speed limit change! Time to get er done in California!

Here’s an interesting fact. 963 k into our road trip and the only wildlife we have seen is 1 live fox, one dead road kill fox and one flat turtle. WTH? I am told on good authority, that Americans are trigger happy and there is no wildlife left. I’ll leave that up to you to confirm on your own.  But I know that going that distance in Canada, the wildlife count would have in in the high teens atleast, with a fantastic variety!  If you have another reason, please be sure to let me know.

Here is another observation, the town of Weed California, does in fact smell like weed! Maybe it was just the patrons at the gas station, but yep, it was skunky.

Here is an update from Roc.

Our lovely 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overlander has performed beyond his expectations.  It is loaded down with probably 500 lbs and gets over 800k per tank, at a very high performance cruising at 65 – 80 miles per hour.

Here is another tid bit I made note of, I saw my first palm tree 1301 k into our trip!  Man I love California! The weather went from -3c in Oregon to +26 in CA! The Sun was hot, the highway speeds were cruising, and I think  I got a bit of a sun burn on my one arm through the window! Lovin it.

Tonight we are hunkered down in the middle of no-wheres-ville.  Plan was to get to Stockton CA, then we thought we would go past it to Lathrop, but that just took 15 minutes. So we thought we would keep going. The jeep said we still had 200k left in the tank so we drove, then noticed our old outdated GPS didn’t show any towns…none…for like ever!  So we did a quick search for gas stations near by and Westley CA showed up. And that’s where we are.  I tried to book on line but the service said they were full. Knowing better (because we own a B&B) I pulled up to the Days inn, and yes they had plenty of rooms!  So that’s where we are.

We went for Mexican Food at Antojitos Mexicanos because it was the only restaurant walking distance to the hotel, besides subway.  We each had a glass of wine that came in an ity bitty bottle ( so cute)  Get this, after just one glass of wine, Roc and I are so exhausted that we have quite the buzz going on!

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Tomorrow we hope to get as close to Tecate as we can. I am not sure what time the border opens to be able to get a visa to cross, I think someone said 9a, I hope to find that out. If you know, let me know!  Just comment on this blog. I will check comments! After we cross at Tecate we will head to El Rosario.   I know what you are thinking…Tecate? That’s out of the way. Just go through Tijuana!  But Roc is familiar with the Tecate Border, so that’s where we shall try to go!  Unless he changes his mind.

Surprise Surprise, Roc has driven this whole way! I offered, actually right before he got the speeding ticket, and several times since, but he’s doing great! (for a guy who doesn’t like to drive…maybe he’s found a new love hate relationship thanks to the Jeep!)

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On a side note, I think the bathroom here at the Days Inn was designed for little people.  Roc is only showering half his body tonight!


Good Night to all!  Thanks for reading my pink Bubbly Blog.

For those curious, today’s route took us on 97 until weed, then on 5 all the way to Westley.  The gps tried to make us take 99, to get to Stockton, but we didn’t listen! 5 was flying just fine!  We shall hop back on the 5 past LA tomorrow!



I Dropped the Elephant!

Pink Bubbly Blog.

I know what you are thinking…That’s an odd name for a blog post.
Lacking inspiration, I turned to my wine rack. In it I found a bottle of Pink Elephant Bubbly, or as they call it Sparkling wine.
So I dropped the elephant and claimed the name.
Now I must give some credit to the inspiration.
Pink Elephant Sparkling Wine, was created by a lovely fruit winery called Elephant Island Orchard Wines. They are located in Naramata, B.C. Canada. Yes, I did visit the winery to purchase.
On the bottle it reads: Kir Royal Reborn: Granny Smith apple cuvee with a Cassis dosage. Enjoy as a prelude to fun.

My bottle is from 2009. I think that’s a little too long to sit in my wine rack. What was I thinking

However, they still make the Pink Elephant Bubbly today! Here is a link, in case you would like to pick up a bottle for your next prelude to fun!

One last thing. Proof of inspiration! That’s the bottle that started it all! I think I’ll drink it, and toast to new beginnings!

Thank You Pink Elephant Bubbly!  I couldn’t have done it without you!

This Blog was created for:   The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).