Hops, Grapes and Grub at Tinhorn Creek – #SpringOKWineFest
Tinhorn Creek Winery hosted one of their sold out long table dinners during the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival that I was recently invited to attend. Tinhorn Creek is well known in the valley not only for their wines but also for their fabulous events, from long table dinners at Miradoro restaurant to cooking classes, movies under the stars, open air concerts and this year dinner and dance in the vineyard (watch their website for details).
This particular long table dinner was the first of its kind: they invited a local micro-brewery to bring their beers and designed a dinner menu to pair with both the wine and the beer. The Okanagan Culinary and wine community is a collaborative one and businesses seem to support each other. It’s not uncommon to hear a wine maker tell a tourist to be sure and stop at another winery or restaurant down the road. I find it to be the same in the food blogging community where we are all supportive and inclusive. And so, three of us food bloggers, Laura, Val and myself drove down the one and a half hour ride to wine country in the South Okanagan to enjoy a special dinner at Tinhorn Creek.
The winery is located in a gorgeous building or series of buildings designed by Architect Richard Lindseth and later added to by another BC architect, Nick Bevanda, keeping the same architectural elements intact. As it happens, Lindseth also designed our former home in Calgary, so I felt an immediate connection to the spacious and airy Tinhorn Architecture.
Dinner was served at Miradoro restaurant, overlooking the gorgeous valley, vineyards and mountains beyond. A long communal table was set along the length of the restaurant and we were seated family style mixing with other guests. The food was plated and served individually this time. I have been there on other occasions when food was serve from platters set on the table family style.
The beer was provided by Cannery Brewing, located in Penticton, currently moving their operation to a bigger and better site. Cannery, a micro-brewery produces individually crafted fine ales and lagers of complexity and balance achieved through carefully chosen malted grain and pacific northwest hops. It’s a family run business in operation since 2000. Proprietors Ron and Patt Dyck are not new to the area. Patt and Ron operated the Country Squire restaurant in Penticton to great acclaim for twenty three years until they took a different direction with the brewery. In the beginning Cannery brewed and sold their beer in kegs to local restaurants and clubs. Next came an 8.5 litre party beer that generated a lot of interest in their beer. Soon six pack arrived in the form of Anarchist Amber Ale and now Naramatha Brown Ale is also available in cans. Cannery offers winery tours which is on my to do list for this summer, once they move into their new premises.
Tinhorn Creek has been in operation since 1993, since the beginning a venture between two couples who remained friends and business partners all these years. The Oldfields run the winery but the Shaunessys are not what you’d call a “silent partner”, at least this is what Sandra and Kenn jokingly tell you when you ask. Sandra Oldfield, an outgoing and friendly woman with taste for adventure is the president and CEO of the winery running the entire operation. Kenn Oldfield is the chairman now and says he enjoys not having to be hands on day to day at the winery. The winemaker, Andrew Windsor is an Ontario native who spent several years living, studying and working abroad before he settled here in the Okanagan. He made wines in Austraila, France, Niagara and now the Okanagan. Miradoro restaurant was opened in partnerships with Manuel Ferreira, owner of La Grevoche in Vancouver. Miradoro was honoured last month with gold medal for best winery/vineyard dining for the fourth consecutive year by the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Miradoro chef Jeff Van Geest delivers unpretentious comfort food including wood-fired oven pizza with fantastic crust. They also hold cooking classes there and I have heard of but not tried the amazing popcorn risotto they make.
The Golden Mile Bench was recently designated as the first Okanagan Sub Appellation and this is major event for local wine makers. We see Okanagan Valley on the label of bottles we buy but the okanagan has different growing conditions and micro climates that make a difference in the style and quality of wines. “There is a vast difference between Vernon to Osoyoos in climate, geology, aspect and the grapes grown” says Sandra Oldfield. “we think it a sign of a mature wine industry that it is finally time to separate the different areas of the Okanagan, and we are privileged to be the first area where that happened.” They have been making golden mile wines for years now and together with other wineries have been working hard for several years on this application. It must be rewarding to receive the first appellation in the valley for this area.
Dinner menu, wines and beer:
Selection of canapes
Prosciutto devilled eggs
Moroccan spiced pork crackling
Tinhorn Pinot Gris 2014
Cannery Brewing pineapple Chamomoile Maibock
Wood grilled mussels & potato gnocchi in baked potato brodo
Tinhorn Creek 2 bench Rosé 2014
Cannery Brewing Squire Scotch ale
House made charcuterie – goan chorizo, chicken and wild mushroom terrine, bresaola
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Pinot Noir 2011
Cannery Brewing Anarchist Amber ale
North Okanagan venison short rib – grain risotto, dmason plums & wild juniper glaze coffee roasted carrots, leek ash
Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2012
Cannery Brewing Baltic Porter
Nut tart with poached pear and dulce de leche
Tinhorn Creek ice wine 2013
Cannery Brewing Naramatha Nut brown
Dinner with all its elements replicated the flavours of the beer and the wines complimented and contrasted the menu items nicely. The 2014 pinot gris was special to the winemaker Andrew, as it represented his first harvest at the winery. The wine was dry and bright with fresh acidity and citrus aromas. This is the 14th vintage of this wine from Tinhorn Creek and one of their top selling whites.
The 2014 rosé was nice and dry with beautiful peachy colour and red berries on the nose. It was a delicate wine, very perfumed and very food friendly. The rose was bottled the day before so it was “as fresh as the food on the plate” says Andrew. It is very young wine, fruity, still primary and it should evolve over the next year into a beautiful fresh and mature rosé.
The 2011 pinot noir came from a cool year which is how you want it for this finicky grape. It had good brick red colour, red stone fruit on the palate and a little chocolate lingering at the back. It’s a bold version of pinot but presents smooth and food friendly.
The 2012 cabernet franc was a beautiful ruby coloured wine with black fruit aromas and herbal notes on the nose and palate. You noticed the red cranberry fruit and smoky complexity from the barrel. Acidity was softened by a malolactic fermentation and tannins were solid and restrained at the same time. “We consider cabernet franc our most special grape variety and it is perfectly suited to Okanagan growing conditions” says Andrew. The wine has just been released and is still opening up. If you store it for a while your patience will be rewarded.
The 2013 ice wine was the last ice wine vintage that they will produce so it’s a farewell to ice wine at Tinhorn. Beautiful jammy compote of peaches and apricots it makes a lovely end to any meal. I am sure Tinhorn customers will miss it.
It was fun trying the various beers with the food as well. The Squire Scotch Ale was rich and malty with a little sweetness. The Anarchist Amber ale was a nice marriage of hop and malt. The Baltic Porter artisanal beer was opulent and smooth with dark fruit notes. The dark and beautiful Naramatha Nut Brown is full bodied, powerful and gentle all at once, with dark malt sensation lingering at the back. I have to try their beers again at the next opportunity.
The evening came to end and we headed back to the car for the one and a half hour drive back to Kelowna. My friend Laura, the driver for the evening, was not able to sample the wines and beers but Kenn Oldfield was kind enough to send her home with a bottle of their wine.
I look forward to summer concerts at the winery and a few lunches and dinners at Miradoro over the season.