BC wine industry saddles up for Ride with a Winemaker cycling weekend

By on May 16, 2015
Graham Pierce, longtime winemaker at Black Hills Estate Winery in Oliver, British Columbia, organizes the Ride with a Winemaker weekend in the Okanagan Valley.

Graham Pierce, longtime winemaker at Black Hills Estate Winery in Oliver, British Columbia, organizes the Ride with a Winemaker weekend in the Okanagan Valley. (Photo courtesy of Black Hills Estate Winery)

OLIVER, British Columbia — The French made cycling through wine country an iconic tradition, and British Columbia continues to put its spin on Pacific Northwest agri-tourism with its Ride with a Winemaker weekend cycling tour of the South Okanagan Valley.

Six of the B.C. wine industry’s top vintners begin Friday, May 22, on the second annual Ride with a Winemaker, a three-day event that features rides through some of the region’s top vineyards.

For the second straight year, Olympic silver medalist Kelsey Serwa has signed up to ride through BC wine country. This year, the former world champion in ladies ski-cross racer from Kelowna will be joined by mogul skier Kristi Richards, another past world champion and two-time Olympian, as well as professional free skier Mark Amba.

“We are absolutely thrilled at the number of winemakers and Olympians that have signed on to join us for this weekend of cycling, wine, food and fun,” organizer Graham Pierce, winemaker of Black Hills Estate Winery in Oliver, said in a news release.

Other winemakers on the tour include Michael Bartier from Bartier Bros., in Summerland, David Enns from Laughing Stock Vineyards in Penticton, Larry Gerelus from Stag’s Hollow in Okanagan Falls, Todd Moore from Quidni Estate Winery in Penticton and Robert Thielicke of JoieFarm on the Naramata Bench.

2-day ride tours Okanagan Valley wine country

A number of winemakers from the Naramata Bench near Penticton, British Columbia, will be participate in the second annual Ride with a Winemaker weekend in the South Okanagan Valley.

A number of winemakers from the Naramata Bench near Penticton, British Columbia, will participate in the second annual Ride with a Winemaker weekend in the South Okanagan Valley. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Event officials bill Ride with a Winemaker as the only event of its kind in the world because consumers ride through a region alongside the winemakers of that region. Riders also get to enjoy two of the Pacific Northwest’s top culinary experts as Joy Road Catering and Richards — who also operates Solfeggio Restaurant in Pemberton — will pair wines with local fare while dining with the winemakers.

Cost is $499 per rider, and the weekend begins with dinner by Solfeggio on the Black Hills crush pad along Canada’s famed Black Sage Bench, a 20-minute drive north of Oroville, Wash.

Support vehicles will be on duty during the rides on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, May 22

Welcome dinner, package pick up and guide introductions at Black Hills Estate Winery with wines from partner wineries as well as a barrel tasting of Black Hills wine.

Saturday, May 23

A “neutral” start from the hotels in Osoyoos with the official start from the Black Hills Wine Experience Centre on Black Sage Road. Breakfast includes SoLo Energy Bars, espresso, green smoothies and snacks from 8 to 9 a.m. until the ride begins.

Riders will split up into three groups of about 15 riders for three routes through the South Okanagan from 65 to 100 kilometers (45 miles to 60 miles).

Ed Kruger from Monashee Adventure Tours will provide support, which includes fully stocked aid stations along the way. The day’s finish is Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos for a lunch accompanied by a variety of wine and beer.

Saturday night brings a shuttle for the short drive to the Black Hills Wine Experience Centre for a four-course dinner by Joy Road Catering paired with wines from partner wineries. The winemakers will be on hand to talk about their wines.

Sunday, May 24

The day begins similarly with the option to roll from Osoyoos or drive/shuttle to the start at the Black Hills Wine Experience Centre. Smoothies, coffee and snacks will be available before the official start on a much easier ride to Okanagan Falls. There will be three groups covering three  routes, including a valley bottom route for anyone who might have overdone it on Saturday (or Saturday night).

All rides will end at Liquidity Winery in Okanagan Falls, which features lunch and wine before taking the shuttle back to Osoyoos.

Lodging is not included, but organizers secured rates for a limited number of rooms with partner luxury properties in Osoyoos such as Watermark Beach Resort and Walnut Beach Resort.

This event has limited registration. For more details and the registration form, contact Pierce at Black Hills via [email protected]

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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