Naramata

Photo of vineyard in Naramata, BC
One of the many vineyards in Naramata, BC

Backstory

This summer after having my birthday, I decided to make a few little goals to work towards as I approach a year that makes me somewhat uncomfortable (dancing around the mid-life years can be such an unexpected mind-F!).   I have always prided myself on living an active lifestyle and have come to enjoy the pains and pleasure that come with distance running.  I decided that I would throw some actual focus on properly training for a 13 mile trail run.  I have achieved this distance in the past but always was certain to choose flat courses during fair weather months.  I’m getting more used to powering through the rain and inclement weather as I have lived in WA for 12+ years now, however running in the rain or snow and cold is NOT my jam.   My guy is an avid trail runner and offered to help me find a trail to run with views to help make this goal even more satisfying.  In my mind, I thought I would be going for a run in the late spring/early summer or something. You know, when it’s warming up. He suggested a run that he had done in the past that was in October outside of Vernon.  I technically had enough time to train, quieted the rational voices in my head  and went for it.  

He did the planning and we ended up torturing, I mean enjoying ourselves, through the trails around Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.  The course was an original that he came up with based on races he had done with the Dirty Feet Running Club.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever physically done, but wow, it was spectacular.   We ended up with perfect fall weather, encountered few other people and I achieved my first birthday goal.  I would absolutely recommend checking out Lake Kalamalka.  There were all levels of trails making it accessible to everyone.  

As a reward for my achievement, I knew I had a surprise waiting for me on the other end.  He does this for me sometimes (which drives me a bit crazy but I completely love it), where he tells me he has a surprise and I get one guess per day leading up to it.  I will be the first to admit, he would corroborate this for sure, I am not a professional class guesser.   It usually goes something like this- 1) Are going someplace? 2) Are we driving? 3) Have I been there? 4) Is it North/South/East/West?…. You get the idea.   He is sweet, humors me and eventually time is on my side and I get my surprise.  After getting a “yes” to the first question of “Are we going somewhere? “, guessing was futile as my geographical knowledge of BC is limited to say the least. So after the run, I hobbled myself to the car, melted into the seat and stared out the window watching the gorgeous fall day unfold on the way to my well earned surprise.

Getting there…

As we made our way from Lake Kalamalka down highway 97 towards Kelowna, it was easy to get lost in the beautiful scenery passing by….even if your muscles are aching and your head isn’t quite right from just running 13 miles.   As a Californian transplant to the Pacific Northwest, the shoulder seasons continually surprise and delight me in so many ways.  The fall colors that decorate the tall mountains and lakes are truly spectacular.  If you have never experienced a road trip through southern British Columbia in the Fall, you are missing out.  I threw out a guess that we were going to Kelowna for my surprise and was quickly shot down.  We continued down the highway which borders the Okanagan lake, and after passing through some cute little lake towns I spied a plateau across the lake that had a series of orchards and vineyards all the way to the edge.  Being that it was Fall, the colors were in full effect. Yellows, oranges, different shades of rust, it was gorgeous.  I commented on how beautiful it was and asked what it was, and that was when I got my smile that told me I had discovered where we were going.  He said we were going to Naramata, which still meant nothing to me, but I was excited to find out. 

Where we stayed….

The best part of being surprised is that I didn’t have to do any of the arrangements!  We rolled through town and made our way to an adorable house that had the AirBNB we would be spending the next few days.  It was named The Naramata Creek Guest House and it was ADORABLE.  The hosts were thoughtful about every detail and embodied the spirit of the area.  It was a bed and breakfast, so we were able to put in our requests for home made treats such as muffins, crepes, sausage, coffee/lattes that arrived through an adorable pass through closet at our requested time.   Apparently, the house is blessed with magical treat fairies, and we were surprised on a few occasions by chocolates and wine. The bed was comfortable and the hot tub was exactly what my sore body needed.  Outside of having to walk up a steep flight of stairs to get to the suite, it was perfect.  I hope to go again sometime, it was really special. 

What we ate….

We arrived right after the end of the season and many wineries and restaurants were closed for the winter.  By the time we arrived on the day of the epic run, it was fairly late so our choices for food were dictated by what was open.   The universe was smiling on us because we lucked out and ended up at The Bistro at Hillside Winery.  We were able to sit outside with the heaters and the ambiance of the tall, wooden winery was hard to beat.  The server was friendly and attentive and put no rush on us despite it being the end of the evening.  We shared a special for 2  with lamb that was amazing.  She paired it with a red wine and I have zero complaints on anything that evening.  

Breakfasts were taken care of at the suite, and every morning was better than the previous. It is such a treat to not have to cook or go anywhere for that first meal of the day.  It is even more of a treat, when you get to enjoy it in a cozy robe after a morning hot tub too!  The Naramata Creek Guest House is next level…. GO THERE!  You’re welcome. 

We enjoyed a lovely charcuterie platter and pasta with a glass of white wine at Serendipity Winery.  The grounds were beautiful and there was a great covered patio that we were able to sit at.  The service couldn’t compare to the previous evening and you did get the sense that the staff was winding down for the off season.  Being in wine country does put me in such a good mood that the view made up for anything that was lacking on the service side. 

2 other places we visited on this weekend getaway were Therapy Vineyards and Legends Distillery.  The property at Therapy was more memorable than the wine for me.  The vineyards stretch out over the plateau with the lake beyond it.  It was easy to just stare out there and half ignore the quirky but nice enough person pouring our tastings.  The gin at Legends distillery was excellent. The person serving was friendly and knowledgeable about the history of the distillery and the spirits they make there.  The building was full of personality and we purchased a nice bottle of gin to take home as a souvenir.   

Our final dinner wasn’t the highlight of the trip but it was fun nevertheless.  Reservations were a must for the popular restaurants so we ended up with 2nd choice.  We made the short drive down to Penticton, hoping to try out Elma’s ( a cool looking Turkish restaurant) but ended  a few doors down at Salty’s Beach House. The food was just ok for bar type fare, as were the drinks, but people watching was fun as our neighboring patron was super stoned and wasn’t trying to hide it.   It is likely a blast in the summer being right on the beach, but for a romantic weekend trip I would pass next time.  

One last winery we hit up on our way out of town worth mentioning was 50th Parallel Estate Winery and BLOCK ONE restaurant located between Kelowna and Vernon. It was a bit off the highway but the modern building nestled in the vineyards overlooking the north part of the Okanagan Lake was something to be seen.  The food and service was as good as the surroundings.  We didn’t partake in any tastings but the bustling tasting room led me to believe that it was topnotch. 

What we did….

I have to say the activities mostly involved eating, drinking and enjoying the Guesthouse, but there were plenty of trails and scenery to enjoy nearby as well.  We took some lovely drives to check out the new mansions and estates that occupy the area.  We followed some roads up on the north end of town that provided spectacular views of the lake and the plateau.    

We visited Creek Park, which was a lovely little trail right off the main road that led us to a waterfall.  We also took a nice, flat recovery run on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail.  Everything was green and the paths were all well kept with few people around, just how we like it. 

Parting thoughts…

I have such warm feelings when thinking back on our visit to Naramata.  I love discovering new places and feeling that appreciation for how much is out there in the world to be seen.    I have been to wine country in California, which is lovely, but the combination of the sparkling water and the manicured agriculture in this region of British Columbia was something else. I hope to take another trip here, maybe in the summertime to experience it during the on season, but Fall was great for avoiding the crowds and seeing how nature unfolds before winter.  This trip was perfect in so many ways and I couldn’t be more grateful for my guy’s knack for knowing how to surprise me with new and wonderful places.