Canada’s Napa of the North, The Okanagan, is home to rolling vineyards and wineries both large and small that produce varietals quickly growing in popularity. For five days this month, these wines will be paired with fresh, sustainable oysters in a series of dinners, shucking competitions, cooking classes and wine-, cider- and beer-tasting events.
With so many options to choose from during the Oliver/Osoyoos Oyster Festival (April 17 through 21), we’ve narrowed down the trip to a few essential components. For starters, you’ll want to bunk in a suite at the Walnut Beach Resort, the epicenter of the festival and the only hotel in British Columbia with a licensed beach (meaning permission to drink).
On the five-hour drive from Vancouver, you’ll want to stop at Mission Hill (one of the biggest and most notable wineries in BC, if a little out of the way in Kelowna) and the eco-friendly and family-owned Orofino Winery.
On Friday, catch the Oyster Brew Party at Spirit Ridge Conference Centre, which will have craft beers and loads of tasty Vancouver Island oysters. This is a chance to chat with oyster farmers and oenophiles, so you’ll definitely learn about pairings as you go about your shucking.
But it’s not all fun and games: Canada’s Oyster Wine Competition is open to all Canadian wineries and tasting is blind, with the winner being revealed at Saturday’s Art of the Oyster, the weekend’s signature event that will feature samplings from the region’s most prestigious wineries, including Tinhorn Creek and Burrowing Owl.
And with that, a brunch of eggs benedict with smoked trout and shrimp and BC squid pizza at Terrafina on Sunday afternoon and a sampling of the newly released rosé from Hester Creek Estate Winery before you leave The Okanagan, there will be just a trail of half shells behind you.
Photos courtesy of Amber Goodwin