Monthly Archives: August 2022

Northwest Food and Drink Seattle Dining

Northwest Food and Drink – Connie Adams – August 2022

Penticton, Okanagan Valley

Phantom Creek Estates

Phantom Creek Estates celebrated the 25th anniversary of Phantom Creek Vineyard in July 2022. The vineyard was established in 1996 by viticulturist Richard Cleave. This vineyard is known for producing some of the best red wines in Canada from the lower terrace of Black Sage Bench, sitting just above the valley floor giving it afternoon sun. It is now planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.

Going back a bit further, the viticulturist Helmut Becker began a project growing over 30 different Germanic white grape varietals at what is now Becker Vineyard to show that traditional European grape vines could survive in B.C. As we know now, it worked. In 1993, Becker Vineyard was replanted to show the potential for late-ripening Bordeaux red grapes. That also worked. Becker is now planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carménère, and Syrah.

In 2005, Kobau Vineyard was planted and now boasts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Viognier, and Syrah. Located in B.C.’s first official sub-appellation, Golden Mile Beach, wines from this vineyard have a minerality that comes from the gravelly soils paired with morning sun and afternoon shade.

In 2016, Richter Bai purchased Becker and Phantom Creek Vineyards, followed by Kobau Vineyard in 2017. In 2018, Phantom Creek Estates entered into a long-term collaboration with Olivier Humbrecht, Frances’s first Master of Wine. He is the owner and winemaker of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, an estate that has been in his family since 1620. It is now of the world’s leading producers of Pinot Gris and Riesling. He moved his winery to organic and biodynamic practices in 1997. He is part of Phantom Creek’s move to add Pinot Gris and Riesling to its portfolio. Influenced by Humbrecht and having a vision of building a winery that will be here for 100 years, Bai began transitioning the vineyards to organic practices. Kobau became certified organic in 2020, joined by Phantom Creek in 2022. Becker is also certified organic. Evernden Springs Vineyard in nearby Similkameen Valley, planted after Bai purchased it, added a fourth vineyard, which is also certified organic.

Mark Beringer, the Director of Winemaking, is the great-great grandson of Beringer Vineyards’ founding brother Jacob Beringer. After getting his Enology degree from California State University in Fresno, he worked at Benziger in Sonoma in the cellars, then moved to Duckhorn in 1992, starting as Enologist and working his way up to VP of Winemaking. In 2009, he went to Artesa as VP and Winemaker, returning to Beringer Vineyards in 2015 before coming to Phantom Creek Estates in late July 2021.

Chef Alessa Valdez helms the kitchen at the Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates. She took culinary arts in high school and has worked in Toronto at Buca Yorkville, Alobar, Oliver & Bonacini’s Auberge de Pommiere and Canoe, and Gusto 101. She worked in the kitchen at Phantom Creek before being promoted to Chef, and works closely with the winemakers to ensure dishes work with Phantom Creek wines, using locally grown ingredients.

Spring risotto

Menu items all have interesting twists, like the Tanto Latte Burrata with apple, green apricot chutney, sunflower seed, pea shoots, and bee pollen. The suggested paring is a 2019 Viognier. 63 Acres Beef Tartare included pickled shimeji, caperberry, xo yolk caramel mushroom dust, and tendon chips. Suggested pairing is the Petit Cuvee. Currently her food can be enjoyed by everyone for lunch in the restaurant, and for private events in private rooms, patios, and the Founder’s Cellar.

The winery itself is quite impressive, designed by Napa firm Backen Gillam Kroeger. 78,000 square feet hold a wine cellar, tasting room, restaurant, amphitheater, production area beneath the winery, picnic areas, private rooms, gift shop/retail wine sales, members-only areas, and more. Tours can be booked online. Driving up to the winery is a moment to be savored with landscaping surrounding the buildings and two large angels hovering over as you enter the grounds. If you’re looking for a wine experience that is more than just a tasting and you love ‘fabulous’, Phantom Creek Estates should be on your must-visit list.

4315 Black Sage Rd
Oliver, British Columbia

To read the full article with images: Northwest Food and Drink

Phantom Creek throws the soirée of the summer

Times Chronicle – Staff – July 31, 2022

Phantom Creek Estates uncorked the party vibe on July 9 with its Soirée en Rouge event. The winery’s first big event celebrated not just the reopening after pandemic restrictions but the arrival of summer and the 25th anniversary of the Phantom Creek Vineyard.

“We wanted to create an event with a big theme and the theme we decided on was red,” says Kathy Nichols, Wine Club Manager at Phantom Creek Estates. 

“We had a red carpet entrance, food stations, wine pairing, a band – Rann Berry – from Kelowna, it was just basically about having a fun night at Phantom, opening the doors and having people over,” she says. 

“It was a much-needed party and I think people were pretty stoked about it. It was fun for us as well just to have our members and other people in a different setup other than just hosting them for a tasting or a tour.”

And indeed people came, some 400 in all, mostly made up of wine club members who paid $100 to attend along with about 50 non-members who paid $150 for the event. And also in attendance were the 20 or so seasonal workers who work primarily in the vineyards. 

“We have such a small team and they work very hard and they always show up anytime we need them even if it’s not specifically related to the vineyard. They helped us moving stuff around, setting up and packing up at the end and it was nice to have them as well and I think they enjoyed themselves,” she said.

To alleviate concerns over drinking too much wine and getting behind the wheel, the winery arranged shuttle buses back and forth to Osoyoos, Oliver and also as far as Kelowna. 

As to whether it will be an annual event, Nichols is hopeful but these are less than certain times.

To read the full article with images: Times Chronicle

5 Winery Restaurants to Enjoy in the Okanagan This Summer

Nuvo – John Clegg – July 28, 2022

While the main draw of wine country is self-evident, there are plenty of auxiliary reasons to visit, food chief among them. Now that vineyards are open to the public, and Okanagan Lake is finally warm, NUVO has rounded up five great winery restaurant experiences for visitors to enjoy between bottles of merlot.

The Patio Restaurant at Nk’Mip Cellars

Nk’Mip Cellars, the world’s first Indigenous-owned winery, which is operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band, tends its vineyards and makes its wines in a way that honours the band’s culture. Similarly, the Patio Restaurant at Nk’Mip Cellars, helmed by chef Ian Stilborn, offers an experience that celebrates the Four Food Chiefs (bear, salmon, bitterroot, and Saskatoon berry), key elements of Indigenous cuisine. Enjoy a bison taco alongside one of Nk’Mip’s upper-tier Mer’r’iym meritage blends.

The Restaurant at Phantom Creek Estates

About 20 minutes north of Nk’Mip Cellars, Phantom Creek Estates is one of the Okanagan’s most exciting new wineries with an equally exciting new restaurant. Led by chef Alessa Valdez, the estate restaurant serves small, seasonal menus that pair perfectly with the wines made just around the corner. Valdez’ cuisine offers simple, staple proteins enlivened by Asian and Middle Eastern flavours. The summer menu features albacore tuna with togarashi, beef tartare with pickled shimeji, duck with a hoisin jus, and pork with Jerusalem artichoke and harissa. Named the 20th best new restaurant in Canada by Canada’s 100 Best, the Restaurant at Phantom Creek is striving for greatness.

Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards’ Miradoro Restaurant is one of the better-established winery dining experiences in the Okanagan. But that’s not to say its culinary program isn’t innovative. Returning to his family’s agricultural roots, executive chef Jeff Van Geest (formerly of Bishop’s and his own Aurora Bistro in Vancouver) packed up and moved from the city to the Okanagan—and ever since, Miradoro has been turning out some fantastic locavore cuisine. Besides his propensity for local ingredients, Geest chooses funky, gamey flavours. Mushroom dusted steak, wild boar ragu, and a salad featuring a balsamic pickled egg are currently on the menu.

The Restaurant at Poplar Grove

Where Penticton meets the Naramata Bench, the Restaurant at Poplar Grove and head chef Rob Ratcliffe are dishing up a menu that pairs nicely with the estate’s bubbles, rosés, and whites—and the reds too. Having grown up just outside of London, Ratcliffe might be expected to lean old world, but in reality, his cuisine is West Coast with Asian and American influences. On Munson Mountain, with views of Penticton’s downtown, Okanagan Lake, and the estate vineyards, there is no better lunch spot for taking in the majesty of the valley.

The Restaurant at the Naramata Inn

While it’s technically not a winery restaurant, the Restaurant at the Naramata Inn is smack dab in the middle of what may be the most densely planted part of the Okanagan, and so it feels like the restaurant for a number of estates. Chef Ned Bell is well known for championing B.C. cuisine, and there is no better way to enjoy it than after checking out a few of the local wineries. You can swing by the aforementioned Poplar Grove for a glass of rosé, head over to Little Engine Wines for a taste of Burgundy in the Okanagan, or farther up the Naramata Bench, pop into Nichol Vineyard & Estate Winery for the iconic pinot gris or syrah. Just remember when visiting that the main event is still to come, and there’ll be wine.

To read the full article with images: Nuvo