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Wine column: There's still plenty of summer left to drink wine

Don't give up on summer just yet.

And -- most certainly -- do not give up on drinking wine summer-style, meaning on the patio, deck, boat, at a picnic or barbecue, after work, after play with friends and family.

Once the calendar says September and the kids go back to school, some people tend to dismiss summer and the wine-drinking fun that goes along with it.

But, astronomical summer is officially here until Sept. 23 when the sun is directly above the equator crossing from the north to the south, signifying the start of fall.

And, by the way, fall is pretty awesome in the Okanagan, so keep your seasonal wine drinking going.

With that scolding over, it's time to introduce you to a baker's dozen of wines made for end-of-summer sipping.

</who>Mark Hopley is the winemaker at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver.

Hester Creek

These four new releases from this Oliver winery are another fantastic way to bring attention to the fact Hester Creek won '2023 BC Winery of the Year' at the Great Northwest Wine Awards.

Ever heard of Pinot Bianco?

Well, it's Italian for Pinot Blanc and the dolce-vita version tends to have zestier acidity and more pronounced pear-and-lemon profile than other Pinot Blancs.

The Hester Creek 2022 Pinot Bianco ($22) is made from grapes planted in 1968 by BC wine pioneer and immigrant from Italy Joe Busnardo.

Those vineyards are now Hester Creek's and it pays tribute to Joe, those 55-year-old grapes and the fact that old vines add more character, texture and depth of flavour to wines in a special way.

The label of each bottle containing wine made from grapes off those vines is stamped with a '1968' decal.

</who> Four beautiful end-of-summer wines from Hester Creek. From left, 2022 Pinot Bianco ($22), 2022 Ti Amo Sparkling ($22), 2021 Joe's Block Merlot ($40) and 2022 Semillon ($24).

That stamp is also on the 2022 Semillon ($24) and, naturally, on the Joe's Block 2021 Merlot ($40).

The 2022 Ti Amo ($22) sparkling wine doesn't have the '1968' stamp since it is made with a blend of grapes, some planted more recently -- Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Semillon, Viognier and Chardonnay.

But, it's delicious nonetheless and is made with a nod to Joe's roots in the Italian Prosecco method where the bubbles are created with a second fermentation in big stainless-steel tanks.

</who>Elegant summer sippers from Blue Mountain Winery in Okanagan Falls. From left, 2022 Estate Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc, 2022 Estate Cuvee Pinot Gris and 2022 Estate Cuvee Pinot Blanc.

Blue Mountain

This winery in Okanagan Falls didn't make 2021 vintage wines because grapes in its estate vineyards were tainted with smoke from wildfires that followed the great heat dome.

So, Blue Mountain's release of 2022 whites was eagerly anticipated.

And the wines do not disappoint.

They are fresh and elegant and beautifully presented under cork in thick bottles with cream labels.

All are made with grapes from home vineyards, so they carry 'Estate Cuvee' in their names.

They are the 2022 Sauvignon Blanc ($26), 2022 Pinot Gris ($26) and 2022 Pinot Blanc ($26).

</who>Two new releases from Black Hills -- the 2022 Alibi ($35), left, and the 2022 Rose ($30).

Black Hills

The 2022 Alibi ($35) is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Black Hills producing this Bordeaux-style white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

On top of that, it's also the first white wine Black Hills in Oliver ever made.

The young Alibi is bright, yet lush, with aromas and flavours of apple, pineapple, lemon and honey.

Age Alibi a few years and it will get more concentrated and complex.

Black Hill's first wine, of course, is the famous red Bordeaux-style blend Nota Bene, which has a cult following.

Another of Black Hills' new releases is the 2022 Rose ($30) in a seductively curved clear bottle to show off its pale pink colour and hints to the contents inside -- a textured profile of strawberry and lemon.

</who>Four new releases from Tinhorn Creek in Oliver. From left, 2022 Pinot Gris ($24), 2018 Blanc de Blanc sparkling ($45), 2021 Reserve Chardonnay ($37) and 2021 Cabernet Franc ($30).

Tinhorn Creek

This winery in Oliver serves up four new releases that cover the late-summer sip requirements of white, sparkling and red wines.

The 2022 Pinot Gris ($24) has aromas and flavours of pear, lemon and spice.

The 2021 Reserve Chardonnay ($37) has just the right amount of oak treatment to create a delightful grilled pineapple-lime-and-vanilla profile.

Some vanilla tones also show up in the 2021 Cabernet Franc ($30), which also sports some nice cherry and spice aromas and flavours.

Let's finish the column off with the Champagne-method 2018 Blanc de Blanc ($45) because sparkling is celebratory and the end of summer definitely deserves to be celebrated.

This bubbly delivers with abundant fine effervescence and an intoxicating profile of apple, lemon and fresh-baked croissants.

Steve MacNaull is a NowMedia Group reporter, Okanagan wine lover and Canadian Wine Scholar. Reach him at [email protected]. His wine column appears every Friday afternoon in this space.

Send your comments, news tips, typos, letter to the editor, photos and videos to [email protected].

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