June 12, 2009
At dinner last night Loren and I realized that we had a lot of time before the 1:30 bus tour of the wineries. So we made plans to play golf at 8:00 am. Now Loren is used to just getting up, driving to the golf course, and taking off—no tee times needed. Oliver is such a popular place, and this was Friday, that such a program was not going to work for us. I called one local club and learned that they were completely full until almost 11:00. That was the less expensive place. But the one I really wanted to play at was Fairview Mountain Golf Club that, as it turned out, had an 8:40 tee time and was less expensive than I thought. We were only going to play 9 holes, so that would be even cheaper.
We drove over in Loren’s jeep and were pleasantly impressed with the club the first time we saw it. It had landscaping and tasteful gates at its entrance, smooth-running golf carts, a nice pro shop, a sign suggesting what handicaps should play what tees, and even a Stimp meter reading on the greens. (A Stimp meter is a means of determining how fast the balls run on the greens.)
We warmed up at the driving range and the putting green, then we went over to the first tee and met Doug and Gord, two guys from Calgary who were in a group of 7 guys doing a bike and golf tour. The other 5 guys decided to bike; Gord and Doug decided to golf.
None of us had played the course before, but the scorecard gave a good description of the hole and what to expect and watch out for. This course was very fair—the sand traps and bunkers weren’t directly in the landing zones but punished you if you strayed. The greens were set up with good protection from bunkers but playable. The whole course had tremendous elevation changes. We were often hitting up to or down to the green from the fairway or to the fairway from the teebox. We were all pretty evenly matched. I think each of us hit at least one ball out of the golf course and each did our fair share of hunting for balls.
Each green and each tee box offered some breathtaking views of the Southern Okanagon Valley. Many golf course have one or two holes it considers its “signature” hole, on this golf course almost every hole was a signature hole. It was that pretty.
We got back in plenty of time to shower and get ready for the wine tour. Susan dressed in a pretty purple ensemble with a matching hat that was just perfect for this trip. Our first winery was Gehringer Bros. We thought we were going to do a tour of the winery, but the winery was under construction and we had to make do with an impromptu talk from Walter Gehringer, one of the owners, about the climate, growing season, and the special challenges they faced for wine production in Southern Okanagon County.
We had a generous wine pourer who helped us appreciate each of the wines that Gehringer made. Gehringer offered ice wines as well, and we ended up with a small assortment of those as well. Gehringer put us a lot closer to the vines and machinery for wine-making, so several of our group with an agricultural bent enjoyed looking at some of the tractors and other machinery and closely inspecting the vines.
From there we went to Silver Sage, which offered a much different experience. This was a production. The area near the entrance was laced with flowers and small statuary that evoked beauty. The tasting room itself was dominated by the wine pourer, who talked up the Silver Sage wines and told great jokes about them. He probably sold several bottles on his patter alone. We tasted every one of the wines they had to offer. We ended up buying 2 bottles.
From there we drove a ways to the Golden Mile Fruit Market. I fell asleep on the way, but I woke up in time to look around the market. We bought a few vegetables, some fruit (mostly cherries), and some Apricot Brandy Syrup (for pancakes later).
Then it was on to dinner in Osoyoos. We were on a patio off a restaurant and bar that was playing the final game of the Stanley Cup-Detroit Redwings v. Pittsburgh Penguins. No Canadian team in the finals. I asked the bartender where all the Canadian teams were, and he said “practicing their golf swings.” We had a pleasant steak dinner on the patio, then got back to the RV park about 9:00. Tomorrow we head out to Canyon Hot Springs near Revelstoke.