Monday, October 24, 2011

Hester Creek Winery: Jewel of the Okanagan

Hester Creek Estate Winery & Villas in Oliver B.C. is the hidden jewel of the Okanagan. Located along the fertile Golden Mile Bench, Oliver is wine country — home to more than twenty internationally recognized wineries, 400 farms and 102 vineyards. From 'vine to wine', the region produces more than a third of British Columbia’s wines and an abundance of locally grown produce, which have made the area a popular culinary destination. 

Hester Creek Vineyard's great signage identifies each of their grape varieties

Autumn in full blaze at Hester Creek

Some of the oldest vines are found at Hester Creek Estate Winery, a beautiful Mediterranean-style property with a winery, wine shop, gorgeous guest villas and acclaimed restaurant, Terrafina. Located in the former wine tasting room detailed with old brick, wooden pillars and iron chandeliers, Terrafina is Italian for 'from the earth', and their Tuscan-inspired menu captures the essence of the Okanagan's seasons, from the locally grown fruit and vegetables to the best wines of Okanagan wine country.

Private villas with private patios, overlook the beautiful Golden-Mile vineyards

The twilight drive welcomes visitors to Hester Creek

Our complimentary bottle of Pinot Gris we received as we checked into our villa which we uncorked and enjoyed while drinking in our fabulous view

Hester Creek Estate has six sumptuous Mediterranean-style villas nestled high up on the mountain side, perched above the winery with unsurpassed views to the valley below. As we made our way through the vineyard up a winding road to our hilltop villa, I spotted a family of deer grazing nonchalantly in the grassy hillside tundra — a perfect welcome to the natural splendour of the Okanagan Valley. A second welcome greeted us as we checked into our villa — a complimentary bottle of Hester Creek's Pinot Gris, which we enjoyed on our private terrace as we soaked up the breathtaking view of the valley below, and watched tiny quail scurry through the bushes in front of us. Extraordinary.

A family of deer roam the hills just above our Villa at Hester Creek

Terrafina, Hester Creek's lovely restaurant, located in the former winery tasting room, provides an intimate and romantic setting for lunch and dinner, with old brick, wooden pillars and iron chandeliers, with additional seating on the patio surrounded by a garden and covered by lush vines. Terrafina not only captures the character of Hester Creek Estate Winery but also offers a setting as if you were overlooking the Tuscan hillside.

Terrafina's outdoor patio with lush grape vines

Terrafina's Executive Chef Jeremy Luypen

Jeremy Luypen, executive chef and co-owner of Terrafina with his partner, operating manager April Goldade, is passionate about capturing the natural flavours of the locally-grown, farm produce. From wood-stone baked bread to house-made pizzas and pasta to grilled offerings, the light, flavourful dishes are Italian-inspired and created to marry perfectly with Hester Creek's award winning wines. The menu is carved into Antipasto & Insalata and Wood Stone & Entrata, with tempting dishes including Roasted Quail with Artichokes, Sea Scallops with Roasted Pancetta and Angus Beef Carpaccio with arugula, petals of grand Padano cheese and aged balsamic & olive oil. 

Angus Beef Carpaccio with arugula, petals of grand Padano cheese and aged balsamic & olive oil

Olive and Fennel Insalata

Terrafina's Roasted Potato Pizza and Cured Pork & Veal Meatballs

Innovative wood stone pizzas such as duck prosciutto and little Qualicum blue cheese or the traditional Margherita with fior de latte whole milk mozzarella, Okanagan tomatoes and local basil, are cooked to perfection in Terrafina's pizza oven. Entrées range from Seared BC Sable Fish with a sweet corn reduction and angel hair pasta to Roasted Free Range Chicken with pea and caramelized onion risotto to Sautéed Prawns and Clams with Toasted Pine Nuts, Candied Cherry Tomatoes in a Shellfish Broth. 

Seared BC Sablefish with Cherry Tomatoes and Sweet Corn Reduction on Angel Hair Pasta

Sautéed Prawns and Clams with Toasted Pine Nuts, Candied Cherry Tomatoes in a Shellfish Broth

Roasted Free Range Chicken with Pea, Roasted Asparagus, Haricots and 
Caramelized Onion Risotto

In addition to the free wine tastings and a handsome wine shop, visiting chefs also offers hands-on cooking classes with Hester Creek wine pairings. With all of the excellent wine and delicious food, thank goodness our room was only a few steps away!