Monthly Archives: July 2022

Bucket List BC: The Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates

Daily Hive – Hanna McLean – July 26, 2022

BC is in no shortage of incredible places to sip and savour local wine and fare, and here’s one to add to your bucket list if you haven’t ticked it off already: The Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates.

Located on the Black Sage Bench in the Okanagan Valley, Phantom Creek Estates produces wines from historic vineyards using over 30 different varieties of grapes.

And while this high-profile name might ring a bell because of its award-winning wines, we think you should know about the restaurant on site as well.

The Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates offers some of the most stunning, unparalleled views we’ve come across in any BC dining room.

Whether you take a seat inside or outside on the sun-soaked, covered patio, we can confidently guarantee both the views and food will be outstanding.

Now open for lunch service Thursday through Monday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, this dining destination promises patrons a “culinary adventure” and serves up exactly that.

Diners can enjoy either two or three-course lunch spreads from the mind of Chef Alessa.

The seasonal menu will rotate, but during our visit, we tasted many highlights including an outstanding Albacore Tuna starter, as well as an unforgettable 63 Acres Beef Tartare served with the most perfect puffy and crunchy tendon chips.

Mains such as Halibut, Fraser Valley Duck, and a delectable Spring Risotto made with oyster mushrooms, a farm-fresh sous vide egg, and Grana Padano, are all up for order. The latter can be topped with shaved truffle upon request.

For dessert, the seasonal delights keep coming. We opted for the Rum Baba and the Pecan Éclair made with mousseline, praline, candied pecan, and pickled Saskatoon berry.

Naturally, wine pairings are exquisite in the restaurant and we’d highly recommend opting for them when dining here.

If you’re aiming to check out the one-of-a-kind “Founder’s Cellar Experience” at Phantom Creek — you’re in for a treat.

Patrons start with a captivating tour of the underground cellars while getting an explanation of Phantom Creek’s history, sustainable farming practices, and winemaking philosophy.

This tour ends in the stunning Founder’s Cellar where folks will enjoy a special five-course menu paired with exclusive and rare wines.

A minimum of seven days notice is required to book this experience and groups of up to six people can be accommodated.

Phantom Creek offers an array of experiences and tours that vary in length and price.

Options include everything from a $20 seated tasting to a Heli Tour & Tasting, and everything in between.

Be sure to plan ahead and book a time to visit this bucket list winery and restaurant in beautiful Oliver, BC.

To read the full article with images: Daily Hive


Scout Magazine – Press Release – July 22, 2022

Oliver, BC | Phantom Creek Estates is proud to announce Director of Winemaking Mark Beringer’s first wine release. The 2021 Rosé was harvested in September 2021 from dedicated blocks at Becker and Evernden Spring Vineyards and bottled in March 2022. The wine reflects the complexity that comes from the winery’s organic-certified terroirs in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. The 2021 vintage is dry, finessed, and nuanced, with delicate red berries and layers of spice.

“This Rosé represents the first wine release from me and my team. We are excited to finally be able to share it with all of you as the weather has warmed up, providing the perfect atmosphere to enjoy it,” says Mark Beringer. “This Rosé was made in the traditional method by whole cluster pressing the fruit at the optimal ripeness and fermented in a combination of stainless-steel tanks and large oval oak tanks. The result is a wine with bright red fruits such as strawberry and cherry, with a hint of ruby grapefruit. It has been made in a dry style with crisp acid supported by a rich texture from extended time on the yeast. It’s like summer in a glass!”

The Estate Rosé is $33 CAD per bottle, and is available to purchase here.

To read the full article with images: Scout Magazine

Guide to Dining Out: Chef Alessa Valdez, Phantom Creek Estates

Guide to Dining Out – GTDO – June 29, 2022

Chef Alessa Valdez came dangerously close to losing her passion for cooking.

It was during the Covid 19 pandemic when just about every hospitality venue in Toronto, where she lived and worked, was ordered to shut down. After having cooked in some of the city’s top restaurants, she suddenly found herself out of a job.

“I was laid off for a couple of months, then went back to work doing only take out service,” she says. “I was falling out of love with cooking.”

But then an Instagram post changed her life. It was about a position as the senior sous chef at Phantom Creek Estates in Oliver, B.C. She applied and got it.

Less than a year later, she’s the executive chef of the winery’s restaurant, which was named in May as one of Canada’s best new eateries. As the only Okanagan establishment to make the list, published annually by Canada’s 100 Best Magazine, it’s an astonishing achievement, especially considering the restaurant is still only offering lunch service and private dinners.

But what a service it is. Patrons are greeted with a creative and eclectic choice of starters, entrees and desserts, including what Valdez says are the menu’s current signature dishes: 63 Acres Beef Tartare with pickled shimeji, caperberry and xo yolk caramel; Duck Confit with puffed red quinoa, beets, fava bean, red and green sorel and hoisin; and Basque Cheesecake with brandied cherry.

“Our menu is unique from any other restaurant in the Valley. We are constantly changing the menu as the season changes. We change two items on the menu twice a month so that guests can always expect something different, rather than having the same menu for the whole season,” she says.

The cuisine may seem sophisticated, but Valdez describes her food philosophy as simple.

“Simple but very elevated and flavourful at the same time,” she explains. “I have a French fine dining background, I put a lot of French techniques into the dishes on the menu. I like to let the ingredients speak for themselves instead of hiding them. I have so much appreciation for our farmers who took the time to grow us beautiful produce, so why not let them shine.”

Valdez’s foray into the kitchen is homegrown. She was raised in Toronto, but has Filipino roots, and as a child, she enjoyed helping her mother – whom she describes as her inspiration – prepare her native cuisine. She took a co-op program in high school and decided to pursue a career in the culinary arts, with her mother’s encouragement. 

Though she describes her mom as the better cook, Valdez has an impressive pedigree. She has worked in top tier Toronto eateries such as Alobar and Canoe, both of which made Canada’s Best 100 Restaurants list in 2022.

The winery in the place she now calls home is as grand as any big city establishment. Set on the lower terrace of the Black Sage Bench, it’s a stunning piece of architecture with sweeping vineyard and mountain views. The winemaking team is led by a man who also has a pretty profound pedigree – Mark Beringer, great-great-grandson of one of the founders of Beringer Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Moving and settling into a tiny, predominately agri-focused community is, no doubt, a big adjustment for her. But she embraces the weather and the abundance of fresh ingredients.

“We have so many local farmers producing beautiful produce, we are also lucky to have a kitchen garden just a minute away from the winery, so we also try to incorporate our own produce on the menu.”

But there are notable disadvantages as well.

“Staffing is probably one of the biggest issues with having a restaurant in the Okanagan. We do offer housing but I’m noticing that a lot of cooks prefer to work in bigger cities rather than moving out to the Okanagan,” she says.

Having Valdez as their culinary leader just might tip the scales in favour of the Valley and Restaurant at Phantom Creek, in particular. 

It’s certainly nabbing the attention of patrons and critics alike.

“I want our guests to have an elevated experience when they visit Phantom Creek, not only on the food side, but the service as well. It’s very rewarding knowing that guests come and eat at Phantom Creek and have a memorable experience. Our goal is to be the best restaurant in the Valley.”

And it’s well on its way to achieving just that.

To read the full article with images: Guide to Dining Out

Phantom Creek Estates: Enjoying an exclusive winery experience in Oliver, BC

Foodology – Diana Chan – July 14, 2022

When we previously visited the Okanagan, we would do several tastings in a day. As we make more trips to the Okanagan, we really find a lot of value in having an immersed experience to really understand the unique wine making methods, the architecture, and of course tasty dishes.

Phantom Creek Estates has 25 years of rich history in Oliver, BC on the famed Black Sage Bench of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, specializing in single-vineyard Bordeaux reds, Alsatian whites, and the Okanagan’s benchmark varieties of Viognier and Syrah from storied vineyard sites. The winery was established in 1996 by Richard Cleave, a pioneering viticulturist and found by the Bai family in 2016 to further develop the estate.

Phantom Creek Vineyard is consistently recognized for producing some of the best red wines in Canada, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. They strive to be one of the best in Okanagan and it shows through the wine, restaurant, and amazing staff.

Tour and Wine Tasting

Phantom Creek Estates offer 6 different tour and tasting options from $20 to $475 per person. Good options depending on how much time you have during your trip to learn about Phantom Creek Estates.

A popular option is their Estate Tour & Tasting for $60 per person where a Senior Brand Ambassador will guide you on a 90 minute tour around the estate. It begins in the History Room, where you’ll get an overview of the historic vineyards on the Black Sage Bench. From there, you’ll see the curated art installations and learn about their commitment to natural farming. Then, venture into the winery to see the winemaking process. The tour will end with a one-of-a-kind tasting in an exclusive private tasting room with unobstructed views of the South Okanagan. The tasting features their premium selection of wines.

Their Founder’s Cellar Experience is highly recommended as you get the extended tour and access into the Founder’s Cellar, plus a curated five-course menu paired with library and exclusive wines from their cellar. The underground cellars make for some amazing photos to capture memories with your friends and family. A great way to see it all.

The Restaurant

The restaurant is a must and have 2 and 3 course menu with optional wine pairings. It opened in 2021 and Chef Alessa Valdez brings her skills to elevate the seasonal menu that pairs so well with their exclusive wine selection. Plus, the view from the dining room and patio are stunning.

Lunch service offered from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.

Do inquire about any features of the day as we were surprised they offered a seafood tower and had the options of substituting our appetizers or main.

Seafood Tower
This seafood tower has shrimp, oysters, mussels, ahi tuna on crisps, and mini crab claws. Paired with the rosé. It was fresh and naturally sweet and delicious. I love how everything is cracked for you so it’s seamless to eat and enjoy.

Duck Confit
The duck confit has puffed red quinoa, beets, fiddlehead, red and green sorel, and hoisin. It is paired with the 2019 Cabernet Franc. Duck was rendered nicely and always a great pairing with red wines.

Prairie Ranchers Pork
This fun plate has pork shoulder croquette, pork tenderloin, jerusalem artichoke, pickled mustard seed, and harissa. It is paired with their 2018 Merlot. The pork shoulder croquette was a joy to eat and bursting with flavour.

Spring Risotto
The morel & oyster mushrooms, asparagus, sous-vide farm fresh egg, and grana padano in the risotto is pure magic. The earthy notes from the mushrooms pairs so well with the 2020 chardonnay

Strawberry Pavlova
The pavlova has house made granola, coconut cream, and basil. It is paired with the exclusive 2016 Riesling Ice Wine only available at The Restaurant. Guests have tried bribing the staff to purchase bottles, but no luck.

Rum Baba
This dessert was surprisingly moist even though it didn’t look like it. It has cardamom diplomat, crepe dentelle, poached rhubarb, rhubarb purée, and nasturtium. It is paired with the 2016 Chardonnay. Very enjoyable.

Pecan Éclair
My favourite dessert was this eclair and it has mousseline, praline, candied pecan, and pickled Saskatoon berry. It is paired with their exclusive 2016 Cabernet Franc Ice Wine only available at The Restaurant. Just a joy to eat.

Reservations is a must and it can be booked up fast. They have inside and patio seating available. The Restaurant was the highlight of our trip at Phantom Creek Estates and even our whole trip to the Okanagan.

Summer events

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Phantom Creek Vineyards, the winery is hosting a series of celebratory events this year and will take place through September, including a monthly Phantom Creek Vineyard-focused dinner series.

Soirée en Rouge
The Soirée en Rouge event happened earlier this month and kicked off the 25th anniversary with more Summer events to come. The estate is gorgeous and is a perfect backdrop for any event. Absolutely STUNNING.

Summer Picnic
The winery is also debuting a new Summer Picnic offering which is available daily and is BYO (bring your own) blanket. Reservations are required for the Summer Picnic, and wine bottles and charcuterie trays are available for purchase to enjoy in the winery’s outdoor lounge and amphitheater. 

Summer Music Series
The winery will also be hosting a Summer Music Series every Friday, through September 16 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with live music in the amphitheater featuring local musicians.  Tickets can be purchased here.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are a lot of ways to enjoy Phantom Creek Estate through the tours, tastings, restaurant, or special events. Plan accordingly and make reservations as it will get busy through the Summer.

Phantom Creek is a newer brand in the Okanagan, but don’t overlook them as they have 25 years of rich history and continually giving back to the land to make it better. Add Phantom Creek Estate to your next visit to Oliver, BC!


To read the full article: Foodology