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Friday, August 7, 2015

Keeping the Romance Alive: Our Okanagan Anniversary Getaway

This Summer Will & I have been married for 5 years. When did that happen??? A house & mortgage and 2 kids later and here we are, pretending we're grown ups (who else feels this way?!). As they say, marriage takes effort, and you've got to keep the romance alive. We've had a lot going on in the past few months so we've been craving a chance to unwind and with it being our 5th anniversary I really wanted to do something special. I haven't been away since having kids and even though Liam is only 3 months old, he takes a bottle well and is in a good little routine, so I knew if I pumped enough milk he'd do ok (I pumped my little heart out for the month leading up to our night away to make sure I had enough- a lot of work, but so worth it for a night away). Even if you don't have a ton of money and/ or only have a small window of time to work with, you can make the most of it if you plan ahead- and keeping the romance alive is something you can't forget to make time for. 

I started thinking about what we could do a few months back, but didn't want to set anything in stone until baby #2 arrived and we knew what we were in for. Once Liam was born and I started to settle into life with 2 kids I felt we could pull off a night away and after thinking through our options decided on a one night getaway to the Okanagan. One of my friends suggested some of her favourite wineries on the Naramata Bench in Penticton and I loved the idea of a getaway that involved wine. After looking into which wineries offer accommodations & reading reviews I decided on Quidni Estate Winery at the southern end of The Bench. A boutique winery, producing only 1,500 cases of wine every year, Quidni Estate Winery has 3 guest rooms for visitors looking to enjoy a few nights away in the heart of Okanagan wine country. Thanks to this lovely venue our 24- hour mini getaway was everything we hoped it would be, with some fun added bonuses thrown into the mix. 

The night before I prepped snacks for the drive up, stocked the kid's overnight bags, and made lists of last minute things I had to do the morning we left (I can't function without writing lists!). That way all I had to do when we got up was get dressed, pack the car & go (we actually hit the road on time, when does that ever happen???). Will & I arrived mid afternoon, ready to enjoy a wine tasting and some R&R. Right off the road, the winery is easy to find and when you enter you're greeted by a 2- storey wine wall that showcases the wineries' selections (so pretty!). The friendly staff made sure we had everything we needed and got us settled into our room so we could get right to the highlight of the trip: the wine!

We booked the vineyard view room, but enjoyed views of the adjacent farm and Okanagan Lake in the distance as well; who needs TV when you've got such natural beauty right outside to enjoy? Our room was beautiful. Clean, cozy, and exactly what you'd hope for when you book a romantic night away. The property has been decorated in a modern rustic style, and it's exactly what I pictured a winery to be like. It was like a high- end B&B that happened to be perched on a vineyard overlooking the lake- what more could you ask for?

Once we had unloaded the car & settled, the fun began, starting with a wine tasting & tour (we were only away for 24 hours, so didn't want to waste anytime!). The lovely Ema brought us into Quidni's wine tasting room and went over the wines we would be tasting. The winery produces 8 varieties of wine, of which we got to try 6 (3 whites & 3 reds). We were treated to a complimentary bottle (I picked their 2014 Viognier) and we bought a few bottles to enjoy during our visit & to take home. At $13- $28 per bottle, these wines are delicious without breaking the budget. 

After the tasting, Ema took us on a tour of the wine cellar and told us about the history of the winery and how their wines are produced. We got to sample some wine right out of the barrel (a Port to be released this December- Will loved it!) and check out the grapes growing in the vineyard- I'm a bit of a foodie/ wino at heart and loved seeing the grapes that will be used for future wines.

Under the new owner the winery has been transformed into what it is today, complete with its renovated facilities and guest accommodations. Quidni's wines are produced by award- winning wine maker Todd Moore, who combines traditional & modern techniques to produce the winery's 8 varieties (see more about him at the end of the post). And while you can't purchase their wines in BC liquor stores given their limited production runs, you can purchase them from the winery's website (I'm a fan of their Gewurtztraminer & Viognier and love that they're an affordable way to enjoy BC wines). Yum! 

After the wine tasting and tour we were off to enjoy some  relaxing 'us time' on the shore of Okanagan Lake. It was a quick 10 minute walk to the beautiful & quiet 3 Mile Beach (where we got the bonus of seeing a gent rockin' his birthday suit and later learned it's home to a nude beach!), and enjoyed a lakeside siesta complete with wine (hey, we only had 24 hours, so we had to make it count!). It had been a long time since we've enjoyed some time with just the two of us, and we relished the chance to relax on the beach and go for a swim without the distraction and noise of having the kiddos in tow. It was blissful

The nice thing about where we were is that you're far enough away from the busy- ness of Penticton's touristy spots to relax, but still close enough to drive to anything you need. For dinner we headed into Naramata (about a 10 minute drive from the winery) and did it in 2 parts (not on purpose, but let me explain...). The first place we tried ended up being a bit of a dive; the service was slow and the food and drinks weren't great. The winery staff had recommended trying the local pizza place (Real Things Pizza- if you're ever in Naramata I totally recommend it) and since we'd been planning on ordering some as a late night snack anyways, opted to pick some up to enjoy back at the winery as dinner attempt #2. All I can say is this:  oh. em. gee. I picked the 'Traindock Loaded' pizza and it's one of the best pizzas I've ever tasted (sorry there's no photos, we ate it that fast). 

Thanks to that pizza, dinner was salvaged and then some; we took it back to enjoy for a late sunset dinner on the winery's large patio with wine (what else??) and followed that with a twilight walk on the nearby trail & enjoyed more beautiful views of the lake before turning in for the night. Because we had to pack up and come home the next day, we didn't have a lot planned for the following morning; we had thought of going paddle boarding but opted not to to avoid feeling rushed. We just enjoyed the view from bed with a cup of coffee and the ability to relax and chat without having to hop out of bed to tend to the kids. Ah, how you enjoy things so much differently after you've had kids! ;)

We came home feeling de- stressed, calm, and relaxed thanks to our little getaway. And of course, as soon as we picked up the kids it quickly shifted back to reality, but we were happy and grateful for the time together to reconnect. If you & your hubby are trying to carve out some alone time in the chaos of family life, I hope this shows you that it's not how much time you've got together, but the quality of the time. Will and I have both been reflecting on our little getaway and are so glad we jumped at the chance. The chaos & craziness of daily life can be tough on a marriage, and it was nice to remove all that temporarily just so we could reconnect and feel like 'us' again. 

A huge thank you to Quidni Estate Winery & it's wonderful staff for making our 5th anniversary getaway so wonderful. We have some beautiful memories to look back on.

If you would like more information about Quidni Estate Winery, to book a room, or purchase wine, visit their website

If you'd like to enjoy some bottles from this boutique winery, join their Wine Club & enjoy free shipping within Canada! Click here for details.

You can also find them on social media:

For anyone passionate about wine, here's more about Todd Moore, the Wine Maker behind the delicious wines at Quidni Estate Winery:
- Began his nearly three- decades career making wine in 1987 at Lewis Brothers Winery in Grande Prairie, Alberta
- Has worked at several wineries, including Quail's Gate, Cherry Point Vineyards, and Quidni Estate Winery over the course of his career and has earned awards for vintages he helped produce, including a Gold Medal at the LA County Wine Competition for Quail Gate's 1993 Gewurtztraminer
- Has worked with respected wine makers including Elias Phiniotas and Jeff Martin
- Learned hot climate techniques from esteemed Wine Maker Colin Glaetzer at Barossa Valley Estate Winery where he  travelled to work during his time at Quail's Gate
- Joined Ian Mavety at Blue Mountain Vineyards for the 1994 Harvest & helped process the grapes in what has become one of the best vintages on record in BC
- Became a member of the VQA Tasting Panel in 1995, where he has become one of the most experienced tasters on the panel given the duration of his participation 
- Took a position in 1998 at the BC Wine Institute Technical Committee (responsible for determining VQA standards in BC) and was elected Chairman of the Technical Committee from 1999- 2000 where he was instrumental in developing the Ice Wine Standards that are in place today
- Todd turned to consulting following his role as Wine Maker at Cherry Point Vineyards & has helped new/ struggling wineries establish cost effective production facilities based on their winemaking style and transform them into respected, prosperous operations (most recently winning Best of Category at the All Canada Wine Championships & Pinot Noir Gold at the North West Wine Summit) 

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