Wine Culture Magazine

This August, hundreds of clever wine lovers sampled all over the South Okanagan and beyond—on foot, without a sluggish summer crawl across Highway 97 or the Bennett Bridge. The Silver Star Summer Wine Festival at the Vernon-area mountain resort brought together around 20 B.C. wineries for a weekend, and for the first time, Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country brought the heft of some of its South Okanagan wineries’ sun-soaked offerings to the table.

A course at the wine pairing dinner at Black Pine Social. Charlene Rooke photo

Hosting not only a stellar wine dinner but crowds of cocktail lovers all weekend, Black Pine Social is under energetic new ownership: Vancouver hospitality and wine vets Melanie and Brandon Loughery. Chef Jarred Sauve served a divine braised pork belly with pickled mustard seeds that paired as beautifully with vinAmité Cellars’ 2020 Chardonnay as it did with Kismet Estate Winery’s 2020 Mantra red. You’ll find nuggets of that lush pork in the Alpine Mac n’ Cheese, one of the elevated, mountain-inspired comfort-food dishes to taste in front of the room’s stone fireplaces.

Enjoy Thai and Indonesian-influenced food at The Bulldog Grand Café. Charlene Rooke photo

A familiar name from the famed Amsterdam “brown-bar” scene, The Bulldog Grand Café has cozy pub vibes and a menu with an unexpected twist. The Thai and Indonesian influences that flavour so many Dutch menus spark some of the best dishes from chef Tyler Lafferty’s kitchen. Try satay sticks with flatbread, crispy lumpia spring rolls, savoury herb-fresh beef salad and creamy penang randang curry bowls. (The chimney-shaped, cheesy tower of nachos is legendary, too.) Watch for DiVine Cellar, the attached basement wine and tapas bar, to reopen soon.

With a hopping patio spilling out into the village, The Red Antler is the spot for not only happy hour drinks and snacks (like addictive Korean Fried Cauliflower) but wholesome salads, taco trios and a breakfast menu that’s a bubbly brunch on weekends. Aperol Spritzes ($7 special between 4-6 p.m.) are best enjoyed on an Aperol-coloured deck chair outside!

Giving Hollywood North a whole new meaning, the relatively modest-looking Bugaboos Bakery and Café has been graced by celebs from Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban to Anthony Hopkins. Proprietor Frank Berkers has figured out how to turn out perfectly risen, crispy croissants and European pastries in the alpine air, and house-roasts small-batch coffee beans for a robust morning cup. Bavaria beer is on tap, plus a tight selection of brews, ciders and radlers.

Enjoy sourdough crust pizza at Pizza Gratta. Charlene Rooke photo

Enjoy a hot, gooey slice from Pizza Gratta without the guilt and heavy gut from some commercial pizza. That’s thanks to a light, chewy sourdough starter nurtured over six months at mountain altitude by co-owner Wendy Olson (a naturopath and PhD), to produce the crisp fermented crust. A $5 slice and a baked treat (like fist-sized chocolate chip cookies!) will satisfy even the most voracious mountain-biker appetite.

Whether you’re packing up a mountain-picnic lunch or driving through Vernon, stop at Ratio Coffee & Pastry. A JuiceWall in the renovated train station sells hard-to-find natural wines from the Okanagan and around the world. Ratio’s #donutfriday, Saturday pizza and wine specials, toasted sandwiches and treats (including gluten-free baking) are incentives to stop by anytime.

Splash out on private chef Terry Port of Elite Chef events for a luxurious night in at your Silver Star accommoations. Charlene Rooke photo

When you think you’ve sampled everything the area has to offer, splash out with a private chef dinner in your Silver Star rental accommodations. Chef Terry Port brings years of experience from the Toronto reataurant and dining scene to Elite Chef Events, which can whip up anything from sophisticated appetizer bites to elevated dinner plates like crispy duck-confit croquette paired with tea-smoked duck breast and fondant sweet potatoes.

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