You can't go wrong naming a winery Liber after the Roman god of wine, viticulture, fertility and freedom.

As such, Nicole and Mike Dowell are going with the Liber Farm label for their new winery along the Similkameen River in Cawston.

The Dowells bought the 14-acre vineyard in March 2016, but grapes have been grown organically on the property since 2007.

The vineyards are on east to west slopes and overlook the river, which provides a nice breeze to cool an otherwise hot site, resulting in complex flavours and high natural acidity to balance the resulting wines.

The first six Liber Farm vintages have just been released.

The Dowells are particularly proud of the 2016 rose ($22), which they call a grown-up pink made in the dry French style of Provence, and the 2016 Everyday Chardonnay ($18), an unoaked version perfect for the summer that lets the minerality and fruit shine.

There's also Hello Sunshine 2016 ($19), a blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer; a classic white Bordeaux blend in the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon ($22); 2015 Let Me Be Franc Cabernet Franc ($23); and 2015 Signature Red ($25), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Liber's consulting winemaker and viticulturist is French-born Pascal Madevon, who's also made wine for Culmina in Oliver, Osoyoos Larose and the French wineries Chateau La Tour Carnet, Chateau Tour Blance and Chateau Laffitte Carcasset.

Wines can be purchased at the winery at 156 Sumac Rd., open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, online at or at select private stores like Save On Foods Penticton, Cask & Barrel in West Kelowna and Urban Liquor in Kelowna.


Black Hills Winery certainly knows how to throw a wine-release celebration.

The Oliver property refers to its Nota Bene Release Weekend as "a winery party unlike any other."

It starts off fairly traditionally on Friday, June 16, with a Winemakers Dinner at Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos.

The meal includes wines from Culmina, Zanazawa, Lariana and Black Hills' Cellarhand label paired to the four courses and the winemakers will be on hand for some witty commentary.

On Saturday, June 17, at the Nota Bene Release Party, things get a little wild with live music from pop-rocker Barney Bentall and Latin guitarist Oscar Lopez.

The eclectic Luki Dance will perform to honour Canada's 150th birthday and The Silent Disco will be held in the barrel cellar with people listening to the music on wireless headphones.

Of course, there will also be food and wine.

Tickets to the Winemakers Dinner are $105.

The 400 tickets to the $199-a-head Nota Bene Release Party are almost sold out.

Buy tickets at or 250-498-0666.

Ironically, you can't purchase the coveted 2015 Nota Bene at either the dinner or release party.

You'll have to buy it for $60 a bottle by visiting the winery during regular hours or online.

By the way, Black Hills' signature Nota Bene is a big deal because it's an excellent Bordeaux-style red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that's gained a zealous following over its 17 vintages.


Get ready for some volcanic classical music with a huge, fabulous tone that pours out of the violin like molten lava.

That's how The Los Angeles Times described a performance by Canadian-born violin virtuoso Lara St. John, who's also recorded and performed with the likes of the Royal Philharmonic in London, England, Hong Kong Symphony and Boston Pops.

St. John will play the Concert in the Cellar at Kelowna's Tantalus Winery on Sunday, June 11 along with pianist Martin Kennedy.

It's a fundraising dinner for the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, and, as the name suggests, the meal and music will be in the cellar amongst the wine tanks, barrels and equipment.

Food from B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame chef Bernard Casavant and Okanagan College culinary-arts students will be paired with Tantalus wines, including, no doubt, its famous, flagship Riesling.

Tickets to the event are $185 per person at or 250-763-7544.


Its Chase My Tail pal ale helped Yellow Dog Brewing of Port Moody secure the championship at last weekend's Great Okanagan Beer Festival in Kelowna's Waterfront Park.

The fest determines the champ by a count of tokens turned in to each brewery for samples of their suds.

Yellow Dog had the most, and besides the glory and adulation of being the favourite, the brewery also won a contract with the Train Station Pub in Kelowna to provide a draught beer.

In honour of the win, the brewery will provide the pub with Chase My Tail draught.

Yellow Dog's beers are available at most government and private liquor stores in the Okanagan.

Howe Sound Brewing from Squamish placed second and won a contract to provide a draught for 97 Street Pub in Kelowna.

The People's Choice Award, voted on by fest goers, was picked up by Mt. Begbie Brewing of Revelstoke and comes with a draught contract with Smoke's Poutinerie in Kelowna.

The fest attracted more than 2,500 last Saturday to taste 120 beers from 60 craft breweries from across B.C. and the world.


Okanagan wines are also wildly popular outside the Valley.

That's why the Kelowna-based B.C. Wine Institute organizes events like Bloom in Vancouver and Chef Meets BC Grape in Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver.

Bloom at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Thursday will see winemakers pouring new vintages for Lower Mainland media and wine buyers from restaurants, hotels and liquor stores.

Chef Meets BC Grape is a public tasting where Okanagan wines are matched to the small plates prepared by Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver chefs.

The Calgary event was held on May 10 and the Victoria and Vancouver meets are Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.


Steve MacNaull is The Okanagan Saturday's business reporter and columnist. But he also loves to eat and drink, thus his new column, aptly named Fill 'er Up. Reach him at