Mission Hill Winery in Canada's Undiscovered Wine Region
You may not know but British Columbia has a wine region that is a worthy rival of Napa and Tuscany. Mission Hill Winery is one of the stellar estates that not only has some of the best wine in Canada but also serves the best food with matching views of Lake Okanagan.
Sit at their Terrace Restaurant, have a cheese plate or one of Chef Batey's unique creations and enjoy the view. In August there is a diner en blanc event and all summer long there are concert performances you can take in on the terraced grass amphitheatre.
When summer is over and the Terrace is closed the chef also offers cooking courses, celebrity chef cooked meals and wine pairing classes. After dinning shop for some unique stemware or local preserves as a souvenir.
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Learning to Cook in Wine Country: Canada's Best Winery
From the architecture of the bowed archway to the singing bell tower and the spectacular view from the loggia you would think you were standing on European soil. But this is Canada and one of Canada's best wineries with a one of a kind restaurant that works to pair the food with Mission Hill's award winning wines.
In this case, a month before the Terrace restaurant opens (beginning of May - beginning of October), I was there for the final Professional Series culinary course of the season.
The winery, from winter to spring, is hardly devoid of a pulse as they host culinary courses, fine dinning private dinners and wine tours through their cellar within an extinct volcano.
Chef Matt Batey, CCC, is your teacher, host, storyteller and tour guide for the evening. Chef Batey teaches guests to cook a three course meal from 1-5pm when guests then proceed to take a break from the kitchen and tour the cellar with a glass of Riesling at hand. After the tour the guests then return to the kitchen where they plate their results for themselves and any invited guests. During each course Chef Batey then proceeds to describe the narrative upon your plate, the terroir that spawned the grapes within your glass and the personal history of the proprietor who conceived the very winery, down to the last detail, you sit within.
Nestled within Canada's only desert, the Okanagan has a unique climate with mild winters ideal for harvesting ice wine to hot summers that provide a home for pinot noir grapes. The cool air from the mountains and the breeze over the Okanagan Lake are thought to give the grapes their distinct flavour.
Within this valley Mission Hill Winery, built atop an extinct volcano, holds it's future wines within a specialized cellar surrounded by volcanic rock - housed within the terroir that gives the Okanagan grapes their distinct taste.
As Chef Matt Batey described, the wines are harvested and aged in an old world style and Burgundian fashion, however, the grapes - grown within the unique terroir of the Okanagan Valley - do not taste at all the same but are certainly resulting in award winning wines that set this winery as Canada's best.
I have never met a company that takes such good care of its employees AND customers. If you're a friend and supporter of the Mission Hill Winery you're in for life.
Having written more than a few articles about how much I adore the Winery and its restaurant The Terrace, my sister, unbeknownst to me, approached Chef Matt Batey CCC and Chef Chris Stewart to create a menu with some of my favourite ingredients. Not only did they do this and with locally sourced ingredients - The Terrace Restaurant is a huge supporter of Okanagan farmers - but they also paired some of my favourite wines with the menu.
The dinner was held on a private terrace which we arrived at via a secret entrance and overlooked one of the best views of Okanagan Lake and the surrounding wineries. The entire staff was extremely friendly and made me feel at home as we were served an amazing meal. To cap it off Chef Batey, Chef Stewart and other members of the kitchen all signed a handwritten menu addressed to me.
Clearly Mission Hill Winery is the place to plan private events and dinners or even go to their popular Terrace restaurant to sample farm to table menu paired with the Okanagan's best wines. In Summer the winery also hosts outdoor concerts with names like Leann Rimes to Chris Issak and Lyle Lovett.