Last weekend I went to B.C. to the Shuswap for Thanksgiving. I love B.C. in the fall! Beautiful colours on all of the trees. Perfect place to spend Thanksgiving. It is such a gorgeous drive through the mountains with the yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees. The drive was sunny most of the way but sadly once we got to B.C. the weather turned cloudy although it stayed fairly warm and didn’t rain.
Aside from spending Thanksgiving in the beautiful surroundings in B.C., the other thing that made it perfect was that it was the Okanagan wine festival. There were events at most of the wineries in the area and around Kelowna. We stopped at three of the wineries for tastings, Mt. Boucherie, Volcanic (they have amazing ice wine) and Mission Hill. All of the wineries are picturesque, especially with the fall colours and the views over the lake, and they all had some very tasty wines. Mission Hill is one of the biggest wineries in the area, it is up on the hill and is definitely worth a visit, the setting is gorgeous, with views over the lake and vineyards, and the winery itself is reminiscent of an Italian winery.
After touring the wineries we went to the Old Vines restaurant at Quail’s Gate winery for our Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner was a special wine festival set menu dinner with wine pairings. It was delicious! Four courses, all of them very tasty. The dessert was especially impressive, a dark chocolate disk on top of a cake then covered with a warmed fruit sauce. Delicious! The view from the restaurant is one of the best in the area, unfortunately it was not a clear day but the setting was still lovely with the trees in full fall colours.
The next day we drove out to the Adam’s River and Roderick Haig Brown provincial park to watch the salmon run. Every four years there is a surge in the number of salmon that come back to the rivers in central B.C. to spawn. This was one of those years and the Adam’s river was full of sockeye salmon. Apparently only two fish from the thousands of salmon eggs laid by one female actually make it back to the river where they were born. During the Salute to the Sockeye festival at the park, which takes place the first three weeks of October, a fee of $5 is charged to enter the park and watch the salmon. There are nice walking paths, a viewing platform and signs along the paths providing information on the salmon run.
It was actually the second Thanksgiving I spent wine touring and enjoying the lovely fall colours. The first was a couple of years ago in Ontario. I went with a friend from Calgary to spend Thanksgiving with my best friend in Ontario. We toured Toronto and Niagara to see the fall colours and also stopped by some of the wineries around the Grimsby area on our way to and from Niagara on the Lake where we stayed for a night. Similar to B.C., many of the wineries have restaurants with menus which include wine pairings and of course the wineries offer regular tastings. I have found that most of the winery restaurants are delicious (Hillebrand is one of my favourites in Niagara on the Lake, Angel’s Gate along Beamsville Bench is amazing), plus the wine pairing menu is a great way to taste different wines. There are wineries scattered from Grimsby all the way to Niagara on the Lake, ranging from boutique wineries, like Organized Crime, to the big producers like Jackson-Triggs. The wine route is well marked, although many of the boutique wineries are off the beaten track, but there are maps of the area that make it easy to find all of the wineries.
Niagara on the Lake has great shops, restaurants and is surrounded by many wineries. In the fall the Shaw Festival is still on with plays at the theatres throughout the town. After spending some time in Niagara on the Lake we drove the wine route from Niagara on the Lake to Niagara Falls.
Although I missed getting turkey dinner this year, I loved spending Thanksgiving at the wine festival. During the fall around Thanksgiving there are often wine festivals and other events making it a great time to visit the wine regions. Plus it isn’t the high season so some of the hotels will have package deals that include dinners or wine tours. I think I may need to make wine touring a Thanksgiving tradition, at least every couple years since I would hate to miss turkey every year no matter how good the wine is.