Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WBC13: So there was this one time, at Wine Camp ...


Thus was the rallying cry issued forth by Christine, our Constellation camp counsellor for the evening, to a school bus of thirsty bloggers on the way to See Ya Later Ranch. We hollered and cheered with equal fervour in reply as the bus chugged its way up through the Okanagan hills.

View from See Ya Later Ranch
It was only day one, and the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference was already turning out to be a superlative, high-octane camp experience for grown-ups, complete with enthusiastic counsellors and a non-stop roster of activities. (Minus the drafty, spider-infested cabins, though. No, we were quite comfortably put up at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. More on that later ... )

After checking in, I started matching faces to Twitter handles and getting to know my fellow bloggers. The energy buzzed through the crowd at the trade show while we learned about non-cork wine stoppers, drank a whole bunch of verdejo from DO Rueda, and got some tips on how to track down the Ogopogo (or at least a souvenir version of him from downtown Penticton.)

Then the buses rolled up in front of the hotel, each one assigned a rep from Constellation Brands, the host organization for the evening reception. Constellation and its associated wineries had been tweeting up a storm all week; it was at a fever pitch today, getting bloggers stoked for what was waiting for them up in them thar hills. Not much of a surprise to find everyone practically bursting at the seams with excitement.

The ascent finally complete, our banana-yellow chariot deposited us outside a sprawling house at the top of the ridge, surrounded by rugged cliffs and rolling vineyards. Greeters handed us flutes of Sumac Ridge Stellar's Jay Brut as we took in the views. I saw lots of dropped jaws and heard plenty of blissed-out sighs of "oh my"; this was natural beauty beyond imagining, a surreal sight that literally took my breath away.

Was I really, truly here? Was this real? Please let this not just be me dreaming.

Over a dozen stations were scattered throughout the property, bearing morsels supplied by Joy Road Catering and wine from the Great Estates of the Okanagan. A favourite dish of mine actually came in a jar: pink-hued radishes, still frilly with their green tops, dipped in goat cheese and resting in a "dirt" made of crushed hazelnuts. Then there was the smoked salmon, the bison sliders, truffled popcorn, strawberry shortcake ...

Glass in one hand, plate/bowl/paper cone of food in the other, we chatted on the deck, we strolled among the vines, we admired the view (frequently, with no less a sense of awe than when we arrived). The twilight sky rolled overhead in an endless arc of blues, purples and pinks. Laughter rose and mingled with the steady rhythm of indigenous drumming and La Vie En Rose on accordion. Blankets were spread out on the dewy grass like flannel islands for us weary travellers, now with bellies full and palates drenched.

In the growing darkness, candles were lit, bright sparks in the shadows that danced in unison with the constellations as they appeared: Leo, the Dipper, Cassiopeia. As though our host had invited them to join us for the party. What was next, the aurora borealis? I wouldn't have been surprised, really. A fitting end to a spectacular first night at "wine camp".

1 comment:

  1. Awesome writing my dear! I felt like I was there with you - oh, wait - I was!!! XO C


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