SummerGate Winery, Summerland BC
20.05.2012 - 27.05.2012 25 °C
During the transitions between WWOOF locations, we try and stop in the towns along the road to do some exploring. As we travelled south further into the Okanagan Valley, we came upon Kelowna- the fastest growing city in Canada. This random fact didn't come as a surprise to us, Kelowna is a gorgeous city situated along the waterfront on Okanagan Lake with a harbour, a boardwalk, neat stores / cafes, awesome eateries, and the spectacular Delta Resort (totally worth Googling).
After our lovely stop in Kelowna, we continued south on highway 97 toward Summerland. This drive was straight from a National Geographic magazine, the winding roads beside the mountains followed the waterfront of the Okanagan Lake, giving us a picturesque 360 degree view. As we got closer to Summerland, we started to notice the wineries and orchards consuming the valleys and hillsides. This was one of those moments when we felt like we were not in Canada anymore, how could we have been so oblivious to the vast beauty of this country?!
A view of Summerland
When we pulled into SummerGate Winery, we hadn't even gotten out of Gerry before we saw two little girls run in our direction to greet us. They both held out their hands to shake ours, and said enthusiastically....."welcome to SummerGate Winery! You must be the two Emmas!" Not long after, another little rascal appeared, offering to lend a hand in carrying our stuff. We only had to make one trip up to our room because of all the extra help from Katarina, Natasha, and Toby! After meeting the rest of the family [Mike, Gillian, Nicola, and grandma 'TT'], and Markus [29 year old German WWOOFer] we had a big dinner and were served our first glass of SummerGate wine- a 2010 Riesling....delicious!
'Nata', 'Kata', and Toby
SummerGate Winery is an organic winery situated just outside of the town of Summerland. They produce three different kinds of white wine- Kerner, Riesling, and Muscat. Their 10 acre, family run vineyard is a popular place to be with the traffic of wine tourists and visiting friends / family.
Our chores at SummerGate were directly related to the vineyard, which was totally awesome because we learned so much about the wine-making process from start to finish! Because it is still early in the season, we focused on recovering the vines from the winter and tending to the new 'seedlings'. SummerGate Winery is an organic production, meaning there was always lots of weeding to do around the base of the trunks. We learned how to trim shoots and clip buds to focus the growth energy on the top of the plant, so the vines will 'learn' to form in a T shape along the wire. Check this out:
When we weren't in the vineyard, we helped with the beekeeping, meal making, and overall help around the house [four kids all under the age of 11 is a lot of work...especially when the two year old has a broken tibia!]
Our little helper
The time spent in the vineyard with Markus flew because of the hilarious conversations focusing on German translations. We learned the most important words like 'kaffee' [coffee], 'schokolade' [chocolate], and also ordinary phrases like 'guten morgen' [good morning], 'wie geht es dir' [how are you], 'eins zwei drei' [one two three]. He taught us other things as well....but we will keep them to ourselves, hahah. To return the favour, we taught Markus some English [with the Emma slang, obviously]....the poor guy is now totally Canadianized after having spent a week with us!
Our free time in Summerland was always jam packed, we had such a blast exploring, eating, and drinking wine! Some highlights include:
- our first ever wine-tasting experience
- visiting the top of 'Giant's Head' mountain to get a spectacular view of the valley and endless wineries
- making bracelets and beading constantly with the kids
- early morning walks to 'The Beanery'- the local coffee shop....amazing!
- evening hike along the Trans Canada Trail
- ride on the Kettle Valley Railway, a 'must-do' in Summerland!
- exploring Penticton with Markus, including walks along the beach / pier, and ice cream after...obviously
- visiting the 'Gasthaus' in Peachland (a German-style restaurant highly recommended by Klaus] for a Hefeweizen and cheese pretzel [which Markus gawked at because of it's lame Canadian imitation]
- Peacock's Perch for karaoke and beers
- learned how to make mouth-watering crepes from the master breakfast chef TT [totally got the recipes for these....booya!]
- baked a chocolate peanut butter cake using one of the many cook books purchased thus far
- learning how to properly examine the taste and appearance of wine [swirl, smell, 1st taste, 2nd taste, hold glass sideways to look at 'legs...] PROS!
- visiting the local farmers market for awesome breads and free samples [key in our lives this summer]
- ripping around in golf carts through the vineyard [Emma A took a nice tumble once....she has mastered the 'tuck and roll' technique by now.....]
- transporting bee swarms...a very interesting and dangerous experience!
- a second tour around Kelowna, this time with Markus [we have never met a straight guy who loves shopping as much as him....every girls dream!]
The top of Giant's Head Mountain
Kettle Valley Railway
Kettle Valley Railway
Kettle Valley Railway
Beers at the Gasthaus
Peanut Butter Cake
TT teaches us how to make crepes the proper way!
The time we spent in Summerland was truly amazing. The bustle of the family reminded us of home, giving us our first dose of home-sickness. We had so much fun learning about wine making, and have gained a great appreciation for the art of wine and the lifestyle that comes along with it. The Stohler family [and extended family] were such a perfect addition to our trip- always kind, informative, inclusive, and fun! Despite the hectic days, everyone always came together for dinner at the end of the day and recognized the importance of family and togetherness. Thank you to Mike, Gill, Katarina, Natasha, Toby, and Nicola for making our stay in Summerland one for the books!
If you ever have the chance to pass through Summerland, be sure to check out SummerGate Winery for a refreshing glass of wine, and lots of laughs!
Us with the Stohlers!