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The 2014 workshop wouldn't exist without the support of the following partners.

We thank our main partner in the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers' Workshop, Tourism Kelowna.

Visit Tourism Kelowna's website. Follow @Tourism_Kelowna on Twitter. Like Tourism Kelowna on Facebook.


Guided, narrated and custom tours in the Okanagan.

Visit Distinctly Kelowna's Website. Follow @KelownaWineTour on Twitter. Like Distinctly Kelowna Tours on Facebook.


Conference rates coming soon.

Our 2014 host resort! Visit The Cove Lakeside Resort's Website. Follow @Covelakeside on Twitter. Like The Cove Lakeside Resort  on Facebook.

Visit BC Tree Fruit's Website. Follow @bctreefruits on Twitter. Like BC Tree Fruits on Facebook.


Visit Knifewear online. Follow @KelownaKnife @Knifenerd @KnifewearYOW and @KnifewearYEG on Twitter.

Our other event-based partners are recognized in our schedule notes.


Blog Your Way to Kelowna in 2015!

Celebrate food, drink and culinary travel in Canada and you could win airfare (from a major Canadian airport), accommodations and a spot at the 2015 Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop!
We’re excited to announce a blog contest collaboration between Food Bloggers of Canada, Okanagan Food & Wine Writers’ Workshop and Tourism Kelowna. Prize includes travel for the winner to and from the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop 2015 (Sept 11-13, 2015), registration fees and hotel accommodation during the workshop! Airfare from a major Canadian airport is courtesy of Tourism Kelowna and the workshop pass & two nights accommodations are compliments of the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers’ Workshop.

Contest Theme: Canadian Tastemakers

Share your story of a local food or drink champion or favorite spot to grab a bite to eat or have a drink, whether in your neighbourhood or on a memorable trip somewhere in Canada.  We’re calling out to all FBC members to celebrate a culinary experience they’ve encountered in their own hometown or somewhere along the road. Blog posts should celebrate/discuss/educate the reader about one or more local food champions in the Canadian food community or a culinary product or products grown/made/harvested in Canada.

Kelowna, BC is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada with a wonderful culinary scene that focuses on farm to table eating. FBC members experienced everything Kelowna had to offer recently, we offer their stories as inspiration.


The jury will be composed of published authors, well-known food bloggers and professionals in the publishing industry.

Anita Stewart, Food Day Canada
Robert McCullough, Publisher of Appetite
Dianne Jacob, author Will Write for Food.
Jennifer Cockrall-King, Okanagan Food & Wine Writers’ Workshop
Ethan Adeland / Melissa Hartfiel, Food Bloggers of Canada

A note from the judges

Tell us a story about a tastemaker in your community or a tastemaker that you have encountered recently. While we’re interested in how you integrate beautiful photographs and recipes into your blog post entry, what we want is a well-told culinary travel story, in an authentic voice that addresses the question of why the subject – person or ingredient – is important in the Canadian culinary scene. Moreover, the winning blog post will take us along on this journey and put us right in the kitchen/bar/market/bakeshop with you. It will even inspire us to seek out the same tasty adventure. Make us laugh — or cry — and include your personal connection to this story.

Some of Canada’s best food writers, editors and cookbook publishers will be reading your writing.  Be funny, be authentic, be interesting, be yourself. Good luck.

Submission Criteria

A single-entry blog post, max 800 words. May include photos, recipe and video but it is not mandatory, nor will the recipe count towards the maximum word count. The blog post shall be original material, previously unpublished, and posted between Jan 1, 2014 and January 31, 2015 (11:59 pm). Only one entry per URL (blog). There is no cost to entry. All decisions by the judges are final. Submission links to be entered by emailing with subject heading “Blog Your Way to Kelowna in 2015!”

Contest Timelines

The contest and contest details will be launched during FBC2014.

Contest Closes, 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) January 31, 2015.

Long List will be announced March 1, 2015

Short List will be announced April 15, 2015

Winner will be announced May 1, 2015

About the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers’ Workshop

In 2015 from Sept. 11-13, the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers’ Workshop will be celebrating its 6th year. Imgine three days of eating, drinking, learning and networking with North America’s top food & wine writers and editors, and you get the idea. Held in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia within the Okanagan Valley, it’s a weekend of professional development and gastronomic experiences within one of the most celebrated food and wine regions within North America. In 2015, it will e held at Hotel Eldorado and Manteo Resort.

The workshop is open to writers of all levels, and is designed to inform, inspire, and motivate writers as they move their careers forward through professional development workshops.

About Tourism Kelowna

Free your Spirit in Kelowna: Every inch a city, and yet every bit as scenic and abundant as wine country can be. Kelowna is the perfect balance for the travler in search of boutique experience. Beaches and fruit stands, wineries and fairways, hiking trails and “boulderfields”, and miles of singletrack encircle the city. Lakeside, even the main street ends at a beach.

Blog Your Way to Kelowna in 2015! is also supported by the Wines of British Columbia.



Thanks to all of our partners in food and wine writing.



Calling All Food Bloggers to Food Bloggers of Canada 2014, Oct 17-19, Vancouver, BC

#FBC2014Our friends over at Food Bloggers of Canada (@foodbloggersCA and on here on Facebook) have an amazing conference organized. And it kicks off on Friday!

We wish we could be there because our friends Julie Van Rosendaal of Dinner with Julie, Dianne Jacob author of of Will Write for Food and Michelle Peters-Jones of The Tiffin Box will be hanging out in the fabulous Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and schmoozing with chef Ned Bell. Sob.

(The only reason I'm not there, is that I'll be in Edmonton at LitFest: Edmonton's Nonfiction Festival, of which I'm the president of the board of directors and the festival's main groupie.)

There are still a few spots left. The program is bloody amazing. Take a peek and get food blogging. I'll be following the action on social media. The event hashtag is #FBC2014.




Press Release: Mary McDermott Joins Township 7 Vineyards & Winery As Winemaker:

For the full press release and Mary McDermott's bio click here.

NARAMATA BENCH, BC – AUGUST 25, 2014 – Township 7 Vineyards & Winery is delighted to announce Mary McDermott as the winery’s new winemaker.  Mary joins Township 7 from Trius Winery at Hillebrand and Thirty Bench Winery, which are Peller Estates premium Niagara wine brands.  Township 7 Vineyards & Winery has two locations in British Columbia, on the celebrated Naramata Bench and in picturesque south Langley.  The winery has a built a reputation for its small production wines that reflect the unique elegance and character of the Naramata Bench and boldness of the south Okanagan’s Black Sage Bench.
“We are just about quality wine and Mary has demonstrated her prowess in producing excellent wines from a variety of classic vinifera grapes in often very challenging growing conditions,” said Mike Raffan, general manager, Township 7 Vineyards & Winery.  “She’s a rising star with impeccable credentials and extensive expertise in premium wines.  She’ll be a great fit for ramping up our 7 Stars Sparkling Wine program.  Her relentless focus on continuous improvement will help steer us as we evolve in the coming months, particularly with her plans to enhance our Bordeaux reds program at a world-class level.”
Her winemaking finesse is backed by the accolades to prove it. Many of her wines have achieved national and international acclaim, including numerous gold medals.  Most recently the Chardonnays were honoured at the All Canadian Wine Awards 2014, Decanter World Wine Awards 2014, International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014, L.A. International Wine Competition 2014, and Chardonnay du Monde 2014.
“I’m thrilled to start working within a tight knit community and pursue my lifelong dream of crafting small production wines in the Okanagan Valley.  I feel like all the stars have aligned to bring me the opportunity to work on the prestigious Naramata Bench at Township 7,” said Mary McDermott, winemaker, Township 7 Vineyards & Winery.  “It’s exciting to fully leverage everything I’ve learned in my winemaking skillset over the years and combine that with the fresh and creative approach of the west coast.  I believe this can really make a positive impact at an up-and-coming winery like Township 7.”
Mary’s  first fully realized her passion for wine on Canada’s west coast as Sommelier at the popular Monk McQueen’s Fresh Seafood & Oyster Bar.  This was shortly followed by a return home to the Niagara region to expand her wine expertise with a Bachelor of Science in Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University’s prestigious winemaking program.  Obtaining her first taste of winemaking, she landed at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s celebrated Stratus Vineyards as cellarhand and then assistant cellarmaster at Cave Spring Cellars.  Soon thereafter in 2010, Mary joined Niagara’s premier winery family, Peller Estates premium wineries; Trius Winery at Hillebrand and Thirty Bench.  As winemaker, her responsibilities covered the gamut of skills from directing cellar staff, to monitoring vineyards, supervising the facility, to public relations, to her favourite roll of actually crafting fine wine.  One of her largest roles was in their sparkling wine program, where she was responsible for Canada’s most extensive production of premium sparkling wines, overseeing everything from managing grapes on the crush pad to the tirage and disgorging.
At Township 7, Mary’s vision for the winery entails boosting the sparkling wine production and expanding the small lot, fine wine program with additional single vineyard designate offerings, where she will be working closely with the viticulture team on the estate vineyards and with their long time growers on the Black Sage Bench, in Okanagan Falls, and in the Similkameen Valley.  In the cellar she will augment the premium oak barrel program with upgrades to large oak barrique fermenters for the 2014 harvest. With more improvements planned in the vineyard and winery on the horizon.
Founded in 2000, the winery has had two previous award-winning winemakers; Michael Bartier and Bradley Cooper.  Club SEVEN members, friends and guests are invited to meet our new winemaker.  Join Mary at Township 7’s Naramata Bench winery at several upcoming events including: the Anniversary Party on September 7 and “Be a Winemaker”: Meritage Barrel Blending Seminars Oct. 4 and 11th, or at the south Langley winery’s annual Grape Stomp on October 26.  More details are available at
We have a singular focus.  It’s just about quality wine and nothing else!  No trinkets, no shoes, no food, just wine. We believe premium winemaking starts in the vineyard. We carefully select specific sites throughout the south Okanagan for their unique characteristics.  Our fine wines reflect the special terroir of each vineyard and this is expressed in the bold flavours of the wine.  Handcrafted to cellar, we hope you enjoy our robust reds and aromatic whites with loved ones.


"Encounters with Iceland" at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Kelowna, BC

"Encounters with Iceland" sculpture exhibit, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Kelowna, BC (image provided by Mission Hill Family Estates)

On Saturday, June 21, I was among the guests at Mission Hill's official opening of its new sculpture exhibit, "Encounters With Iceland." I hadn't been to Mission Hill in a while. Keeping up with all the new boutique wineries, distilleries, cideries, meaderies and eateries in the Okanagan Valley seems to be a losing battle, frankly, so I'm not prone to repeat visits to places I've already been several times over. But I'm grateful that I was on the guest-list.

Grateful? Yes, actually, which is funny because as I said, it's been a busy 2014 already. Launches! Openings! Special Events! And other Must-Attend happenings had me a little road-weary by the first day of summer. Pathetic, but true. And in true journalistic fashion, I was verging on becoming jaded, the writer's equivalent of being a snivelling whiner.

Mission Hill, however, knows how to create an occasion, and with the invite-only cachet -- a small gathering of journalists and Mission Hill Family Estate Wine Club members, plus a few other friends of the winery, I suspect -- plus it was a major international sculpture exhibition opening right here, in the valley. Furthermore, the sculptor of the 42 pieces, Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, would be in attendance from Reykavik, Iceland. Iceland seems to be punching well above its weight class drawing half of Western Canada to its geysers and Nordic-chic cultural coolness these days. Why would I not go?

"Place" sculpture in aluminum by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir at Mission Hill, Kelowna, BC (image provided by Mission Hill)As I walked through the keystone arch and into the loggia-framed courtyard, I was handed a handed a glass of the Terroir Collection 2013 Rosé. (More on this in a second.) Although I've seen it a million times, I stopped involuntarily and tipped back on my heels as I stared at the bell tower. Mission Hill's architecture never fails to impress me with its ambition and self-assurredness. It's the kind of winery that few Canadians would ever dare build, but Anthony von Mandl did. And it has been a significant part of why the Okanagan has reached the heights it has.

We were ushered into the Chagall Room, where proprietor Anthony von Mandl (wearing his Order of Canada pin) and Thórarinsdóttir (wearing her Order of the Falcon pin) gave us the background of the deal-making that went into the largest exhibit of Thórarinsdóttir's sculptures to date in North America, from just an initial meeting and conversation in summer of 2013, to having crates arriving at the winery less than a year later.

Mission Hill's Terroir Collection 2013 Rosé, against the Chagall tapestry, Mission Hill Winery, Kelowna, BCThórarinsdóttir, somewhat statuesque herself, was warm and charming. She spoke about how her son has been the model for all of her sculptures. While he has had to sit for countless hours (albeit as a paid model), he likes that his image might outlast a future catastrophy or calamity, and be found by people who assume that he was worshipped as a god. She also spoke of the reality of living in Iceland, with its extreme light and darkness, and its elemental landscape that dictates the rhythms of Icelanders lives.

Our group was then taken on a tour of the sculptures in the courtyard and in the cellar by Thóraninsdóttir. The occasion seemed to be a good time to launch its first new collection in 8 years, so we sipped barrel samples from the as-yet unreleased Terroir Collection collection. Again, why would I not? (The Terroir Collection is limited in its production. The 2012 sauv blanc: 19 barrels produced. The 2012 merlot: 13 barrels produced. The 2012 chardonnay: 19 barrels produced. The 2011 syrah: 13 barrels produced. The 2013 rosé: 223 cases produced. These wines are only available from the winery.)

Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, image supplied by Mission HillNow it will get very boring if I try to describe the sculptures, their subtle particularieties, and their specific settings here. Instead I just urge you to visit the winery. Take in the exhibit. Drink in the views. Eat at the restaurant and savour the wines. In this current fashion -- at least in food and wine journalism -- of celebrating the micro, the obscure and the fleeting, it's a nice palate cleanser to just let yourself be blown away by scale and magnitude. And that is what Mission Hill does very, very well.

"Journey" by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, image supplied by Mission Hill


Many of the sculptures looked very much at home at Mission Hill. Von Mandl mentioned "Gate" more than once. It's a cast iron and glass form, standing in a wide stance, with hands clasped behind his back, head bowed andslightly casting a look over the vineyards and lake from the north loggia of the winery. He mentioned that he often stands like that. And that he intended to purchase "one, two, or three" of Thórarinsdóttir's pieces to remain at Mission Hill. My money is on "Gate."

"Gate" - image by Jennifer Cockrall-King

Encounters with Iceland exhibit runs from June 22, 2014 to October 2014 at Mission Hill Winery, British Columbia, Canada. 


Joy Road Catering opens container kitchen at Black Hills Winery

Joy Road Catering Kitchen at Black Hills Winery, Oliver, BC: Summer hours 11 am to 6 pm Wednesdays through Sundays

Joy Road dinners, up at God's Mountain B & B and at special events up and down the Okanagan Valley, are mostly sold-out affairs. So they should be...the dinners are built around of-the-day seasonal, local ingredients and premium regional wine. The menus are thoughtful and memorable culinary moments in time that you never forget. I wrote about one of these dinners in a recent issue of Western Living Magazine.

But sometimes, you just want a damn fine pizza, some cold-smoked sockeye, or a salad to go with a really great glass (or two) of wine mid-day. This is why Joy Road Catering's container kitchen at Black Hills Winery has created such a buzz.

Yesterday, I was among the food and wine writers invited to the unveiling, and indeed the second day of operation of JRC's container kitchen at Black Hills Winery in Oliver, South Okanagan.

Here are the photos:

The Ribbon-cutting of the new Joy Road Catering container kitchen at Black Hills Winery, Oliver, BCBlack Hills Estate Winery president Glenn Fawcett (R), winemaker Graham Pierce, and Joy Road Catering's Dana Ewart (L)Container Kitchen's window herbs

Joy Road Catering's Cameron Smith

The JRC team prepping the charcuterie boards for our lunchHousemade charcuterie and seasonal veg and picklesJoy Road Catering beets, burrata and local hazelnutsJoy Road Catering basil pesto pizzaJoy Road Catering sausage and arugula pizzaJoy Road Catering cold-smoked salmon and asparagusJoy Road Catering menu at Black Hills WineryWhat we DRANK: I guess I was a bit overly obessed about the food, as I didn't actually take any photos of the wines...but Black Hills Estate Winery DOES produces extraordinary wine. We paired fresh oysters on the half-shell with rhubarb-mingonette (not pictured) with the 2013 Alibi (a sauv blanc/semillion). I drank the 2012 Chardonnay with the beet and burrata with hazelnuts, as well as the cold-smoked salmon (and I think this was the intended pairing too). But it was also great with the basil-pesto pizza with thinly sliced potatoes and mozza. Then we finished with the 2012 Nota Bene, Black Hill's signature wine, which is a cab sauv, merlot and teeny splash of cab franc. The Nota Bene was delish for the heartier sausage and arugula pizza, the meatballs (not pictured) and the dark chocolate cookie with a dark chocolate ganache filling.

Worth the stop? Definitely.

Black Hills Estate Winery (and Joy Road Catering's on-site kitchen) is at the corner of Black Sage Road and Black Hills Road. As the sign says, "Stop."