Okanagan trip begins in the Similkameen valley, @vanessavnyrd!

Two people at very high risk, traveling in the middle of a global pandemic that has killed (as of this writing) over 611,00 people. Good idea? Bad idea? Absolutely-freaking-crazy idea? I guess a case could probably be made for all three.

We are not huge risk takers. So why now? Well, a few things made us feel confident.

  1. BC had done a very good job of keeping the virus at bay (at least, until our trip was underway – more on that later)
  2. I had a relationship with most of the wineries we planned on visiting, and sent Emails asking each of them for details on exactly what they were planning to ensure we were safe. Many of them sent very good replies, a few of them were absolutely excellent.
  3. Health experts have become increasingly confident that the way to catch this virus is through prolonged indoor contact with infected persons. It seems as if there is little chance of catching it from surfaces unless you are a moron (like, the kind of moron who licks door handles and never washes their hands). We are not those kinds of morons. We were spending our first three nights in a 2-bedroom townhome at the Watermark, and our last two nights at a pet-friendly hotel in Kelowna that we have stayed in previously, and we knew that we would have little interaction with staff or other guests.
  4. Most of the responses that I mentioned in #2 indicated that we would be able to hold our tastings outside, and interact with very few people. In rare cases where we were going to be inside, staff would be wearing masks and would never get too close to us.

So, 1+2+3+4 = confidence that we could go on this trip. We were certainly not planning a “farewell tour” – we would have stayed home if we thought there was anything but a minuscule chance of either of us getting sick. So let’s get to our first tasting of the trip, as we drive through the Similkameen valley, at Vanessa Vineyards!

In addition to my regular wine reviews, I am going to give every winery that we visited a “Safety score” of 1 to 10, 10 being we felt 100% safe. For any winery that scores less than 10, I’ll make a note of why it was less than that and ways they might be able to improve.

Vanessa hosts most of their tastings inside these days, but we asked to do it outside and they easily accommodated. They don’t have a ton of space outside, hence why it would take a special request to get such a tasting, but I believe if you wanted to call them they would happily accommodate you as long as no other groups were already booked outdoors. They brought out 5 wines for us in shot glasses, which we poured into our glasses ourselves, minimizing any interaction between us and our guide. He stood 10 feet away as he took us through the wines. Two of the five wines we have previously tasted and reviewed, so I’ll stick to the three newbies.

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We picked up some Rosé and Syrah and were on our way. We also picked up a few 2014 Merlots, as they were getting very low and it’s a very good wine that we have enjoyed in the past.


WHY NOT 10?: A minor quibble, all incoming guests have to wait outside to be greeted, and they will congregate right outside the door, meaning when we had to go inside to buy our wine, we had little choice but to walk through a crowd. As I said, a pretty minor complaint, but perhaps incoming guests could be asked to stand to one side, so anyone coming in or out of the winery does not have to interact with them.

Next up: We head down the road to a perennial favorite, Liber Farm & Winery!

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Wine blogger, foodie, traveler.

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