They’re cool, but not icy, nubbly, but not that hard, and they
squish satisfyingly between your toes. What it all comes down
to is that stomping grapes barefoot is a juicy purple blast.
At the Oliver Tourism Association’s Festival of the Grape (FOG), the Grape Stomp competition’s 24 three-member teams are chosen by lottery. If selected, you’ll learn that in addition to grapes and a barrel with a spigot inserted to let the juice out, a prize-winning stomp requires genuine exertion and very silly costumes. Think babushkas.
The Grape Stomp is a goofy good time, and a popular attraction at FOG, the annual wine-tasting event held on “Festival Weekend,” which takes place September 29 and 30 this year. Fortunately, stomp losers aren’t forced to drink the unsavoury liquid they’ve produced. As some of the 4,200 annual FOG attendees sampling the wares of 40-plus wineries in Oliver Community Park, they’re unlikely to be thirsty anyway.
There’s plenty going on locally, including the Golden Mile Bench’s Hester Creek Garlic Festival (Sept. 29, 10 am-5 pm). It draws some 2,300 people to Hester Creek Estate Winery to sample wine, food and various permutations of “the stinking rose.” Sept. 29 from 6-10 pm, the distillery/brewery/cidery festival Cask & Keg takes over Oliver Community Park. FOG moves in on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Festival Weekend or not, an autumn visit to “Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country,”
as the region’s officially called, offers you 41 wineries to explore.
Oliver Osoyoos wine country stretches between the southernmost tip of Osoyoos and McIntyre Bluff, north of Oliver, and boasts 5,052 acres “under vine.” Its numerous tiny microclimates and its soil‘s pockets of clay, limestone and granite contribute to the region’s terroir.
Visitors like to check out big names, but there’s a handful of lesser-known newbies worth a look, like the stylish Rust Wine Co., the southernmost winery in the Golden Mile. Owned by Mt. Boucherie, it’s the proud producer of the tasty 2014 Golden Mile Zinfandel. Another youngster is Pipe Dreams Winery, the brain-child of Alberta/B.C. surveyor John Ness. Pipe Dreams focuses on some unusual varietals – Kerner, Zweigelt, Gamay and Gruner Veltliner; its first vintage was 2016.
Read entire article in the digital issue of City Palate.