We made a day of it in Summerland. Unlike the other wine enthusiasts travelling the Bottleneck Drive our first stop was at the Ornamental gardens. The gardens are a well kept Summerland secret as there was only a biker and his girlfriend in the parking lot when we arrived around 11 AM. We were greeted by sounds from the Kettle Valley railroad steam engine. The gardens are very well kept, the perennials were still in bloom and there was a great Xeriscape section that brought back memories of our time in Phoenix with many different shades of flowering prickly pear cactus. After spending a pleasant hour wandering the gardens the next leg of the journey was the 15-minute drive to Dirty Laundry Vineyard.
When we arrived we almost had second thoughts and briefly considered coming back another day. A large tour bus was disgorging excited wine tasters, the parking lot was full but we decided just to move on to the overflow parking. Entering the winery we were taken aback by the beauty of the patio setting with hanging baskets, great view of the lake and bordello theme. They also have a great selection of interesting stuff in the wine store. I picked up a Man Cave plaque for the entrance to our home theatre room!
The Dirty Laundry Story
The story is well known so if you have already familiar with the history just skip down to the wine tasting section. In the village of Summerland in the late 1800’s , there was a laundry service owned by Sam Suey, a young entrepreneur tired of working on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Sam decided to start a laundry service, but when he noticed the other needs of the local railway workers, fur traders, cattlemen and miners were not being met, he built a second story to house a gambling hall and bordello. “Woo woo” was the password to obtain entrance to the house of ill repute and the patron could also make use of the downstairs laundry while they had fun upstairs. This is how the winery arrived as the “Dirty Laundry” theme. Today the “lovely ladies” mean “wines” and the whole double entendre is fun for everyone. You can also check out the video for more details.
Now to the serious stuff.
Our luck ran out. Just as we arrived at the winery they shut down the patio wine tasting bar. They were six deep at the wine bar inside, flashbacks to ugly memories of holiday weekends at the Napa wineries trying to belly up to the bar. Not being a shrinking violet we graciously manoeuvred into an opening as the patrons in front of us hurried to rejoin the bus tour. Our gracious host served the following seven BC wines for free, no wonder the winery was full!
- Say Yes Pinot Gris 2014.: Good but not memorable. Fun, fresh and vibrant with some attractive bite on the palate. Fresh white peach and pear flavours and crisp, dry finish.
- Riesling 2013. Excellent Dry wine. Aromas of lemon, green apple, pear, and a hint of floral notes. The delicious fruit flavours form a juicy mid-palate, balanced with crisp refreshing acidity and a sweet, lingering finish
- The Grande Dame Gewürztraminer. Definitely our favourite white. Only 300 cases produced. Planted over 40 years ago, the most mature vineyard produces a drier, more traditional Alsace-style Gewürztraminer. Truly one for the cellar. Further making this a collectable wine, each bottle arrives individually packaged in a stunning olive green and 24K Gold embossed gift box. Rich, lively and with amazing textured with some intense fragrant aromas of white peaches, lychee fruit and rose petals. The driest of the Dirty Laundry Gewürztraminer line, with rich fruit flavours with hints of allspice yielding to a dry crisp finish.
- Hush – Merlot Blend 2014. A lightweight rose compared to the Gamay and Pinot Noir dominant rose’ available in the valley. Maybe too much merlot in the blend. Anyway still great to quaff in the summer heat.
- Cabernet Merlot Blend. 80% Cab Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. With aromas of dark chocolate and blackberry, this round full bodied red blend develops with every swirl in the glass. Flavours of black cherry and blueberry give way to cassis and vanilla on the finish.
- Dangerous Liaison – Merlot Malbec blend. Excellent introductory red. Well balanced and full of fruitiness with lots of berries and cherry. Slightly sweet. This is the red for the white wine drinker.
- Kay – Syrah 2013. My favourite Dirty Laundry red. Gold- All Canadian Wine Championships 2015 Gold- Northwest Wine Summit 2015. Full of aromas of lavender, white pepper, ripe berry fruits with a hint vanilla from ageing in French Oak.
If you a looking for a restaurant while in Summerland, we can recommend the Local Lounge by Lake Okanagan.
If you are in the Summerland area make sure you stop at Dirty Laundry Vineyards and remember you can taste for free!