• Bacchus and Pan
  • CheeseGoatOkanaganTravelWineWine Tasting

Bacchus and Pan

This beautiful view is from a vineyard and a winery in the Okanagan valley in British Columbia. I've heard so much about this area but it took me 11 years to actually make it up there, and learn that the "valley" really is a large and long lake, and along its shores, sliding from the slopes of the dry mountaies are scattered orchards, vineyards and ever-growing little towns and and wineries. Orchards are fast being uprooted and replaced by vineyards; apparently Canadians prefer their fruit fermented and boozed up rather than fresh... Personally I'd rather have the fresh fruit: cherries, peaches, pears and apples make the majority - but it is also possible to grow kiwis there! The area is considered to be the northern most desert in the world, although the desert is kind of scattered around... With extreme climate (very cold at night and in the wintertime; very hot and dry in the summer), little rainfall (about 30cm annually) and relatively sparse vegetation.

Turns out I came to the area just in time for the grape and apple harvest as well as the wine festival in the region. I was originally invited to teach a workshop up in Vernon, which unfortunately got canceled (but hopefully postponed to another time). The softness of a full autumn sunshine was magical, as if the sun was kissing goodbye all the orchards and people before taking a little nap for the winter. And the atmosphere was festive, with all the ripe apples on the trees like bright red ornaments, and the odour of fermented grapes like after some kind of ancient fertility ritual for Dionysus.

I've experienced my first wine-tasting there (and the second, certainly too much for one day!) and learned the difference between red and white wines is more than just the colour of the grapes, but also how it is processed. I also learned the winery jargon is something that no matter how great is my olfactory imagination, I will never get it. With due respect to this tradition which is highly connected to the development of perfume (after all, without alcohol and distillation techniques, perfumes would not be very interesting at all) - perfumery is so much interesting. I find the whole notion of describing fermented (and often sour) grape juice as "floral" or with hints of this or that unrelated fruit or spice is a little silly. At least in perfume we use more than one plant and don't need to try to find other things in it that aren't there...

And one of the most fantastic things was discovering Carmelis goat cheese artisan at the very end of Kelowna towards Chute Lake and Naramata - which turns out to be owned by an Israeli woman. They make the best Labaneh (strained yogurt cheese) I've tasted out of the Western Galilee. They also serve ice cream by the scoop (their pistachio was amazing) and their variety of cheeses is more than impressive - soft ripened cheeses, brie, blue cheese, gruyere and even parmesan type but all made from goat cheese. My love for goats has grown even stronger seeing how much variety of cheeses can be made from their milk. Plus, in case you didn't know already, I just love how they smell...
  • CheeseGoatOkanaganTravelWineWine Tasting
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