November 16, 2010

tantalus / mission hill wineries (kelowna)

Just a head's up, I didn't actually eat at the following wineries, but I thought it would complete the whole package to at least mention them, and the reasons they stood out for me.

Tantalus Vineyard

Tantalus Vineyard was one of my favourite visits of the whole trip - not for the reason you would think too! Hidden away in the hills of Kelowna's wine country, it's frighteningly easy to drive past the winery and not realize it's there. We actually ended up driving past it 3 times before we finally figured out this little dirtroad was the entrance! My GPS was absolutely no help as it didn't recognize that civilization existed in this part of town. Epic. Fail.

Once inside, it was clear Tantalus wasn't your ordinary winery -- there was a serious modern bend to their architecture. They had metal sculptures strewn about the property, and abstract art hung from the walls. The tasting room was designed with a minimalist eye, using clean lines, a high ceiling and white paint throughout the cavernous room. Every other winery we had visited went with classical European designs, but Tantalus was definitely going against the grain and I loved it. Even the way the grapevines lined up with the main building, and how it's roof angled against the sun towards the lake - it was gorgeous. Though small, Tantalus, in terms of architecture, was my handsdown favourite - find them at 1670 Dehart Road in Kelowna.

Mission Hill Family Estate

Mission Hill is ridiculous. There. I said it. The drive up to the estate winds through a residential subdivision, making you wonder constantly at every curve if you're going in the right direction or not. Eventually you catch sight of a tall fortress-like gateway, reminiscent of a gangster enclave. A small sign to the right denotes you have arrived at the Mission Hill Family Estate winery.

Once you hike your way up from the parking lot and through the front courtyard, you quickly realize you've entered into another world. Californian/Spanish-influenced design is pervasive, reminiscent of an old-style hacienda albeit without the ravaged signs of aging. Sort of like an Epcot Center version of Napa Valley. They had just completed extensive renovations within the last year. The main winery/house/stronghold holds court over the grounds, complete with a bell-tower, terraces, and even a grass-lined outdoor amphitheatre where concerts and performances are held during the summer months. One of the outdoor terraces is home to their award-winning Terrace restaurant, fully al-fresco dining with a clear view of the lake and the lower valley. It is absolutely gorgeous here.

Sadly the sky had opened up as we arrived and the rain limited our time at Mission Hill. It's definitely high on my list of a revisit when I return to Kelowna next. Mission Hill is located at 1730 Mission Hill Road in West Kelowna.


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