The pop-up phenomena has hit Okanagan wine.

CheckMate Winery in Oliver has an architecturally stunning temporary tasting room at its Oliver vineyards to introduce its ultra-premium Chardonnays and Merlots to the public.

"This pop-up really frames the Valley and is the ideal place to experience our wines," said CheckMate winemaker Phil McGahan when my wife and I dropped by for a tasting.

"It was just put in place by a crane and will be taken away by one in late October."

The pop-up is open daily 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and tastings are $20 for four wines, $30 for six.

This pop-up, called The Installation, isn't a cheap after thought.

The butterfly-roof glass box with patios was designed by famed Seattle architect Tom Kundig.

The starchitect also designed the other wineries of CheckMate owner Anthony von Mandl, Mission Hill in West Kelowna and Martin's Lane beside CedarCreek in Kelowna.

CheckMate's vintages are crafted to take the Valley's wine industry to the next level.

As such, fastidious, hand farming of only the best Chardonnay and Merlot vineyards in the Oliver and Osoyoos area produces low-yield fruit that McGahan finesses into outstanding wines using the finest French oak barrels from Burgundy, France, larger foudre casks and even ceramic vessels.

Australian McGahan was headhunted for the job via California's Russian River Valley where we was working for Chardonnay-specialist William Selyem.

Standing on the front patio with six glasses on the table in front of each of us, McGahan leads us through tastings of the 2013 Chards – Knight's Challenge, Queen Taken, Attack and Fool's Mate – and the 2013 Merlots – Opening Gambit and Black Rook.

As you've figured out by now, all the names are chess-inspired because CheckMate's vineyard blocks on a map resemble a chessboard.

My wife's favourite is Queen Taken, the most opulent of the Chards with flavours of white peach and wet stone.

I was a fan of Attack, the Chard aged in a foudre with complex flavours of tropical fruit and even sea salt.

The Chards are priced $80 to $125 and the Merlots $85 in keeping with their "next level" status.

They are only available at the winery off Road 13 in Oliver, online at and in select restaurants.


Not knowing if the rose or the white blend will go best with the salad Nicoise, I order both.

It's lunch time at Liquidity Winery in Okanagan Falls and there are numerous food-and-wine pairing options.

Server Tamara Gardner mentions both the savoury rose ($22) and the aromatic Collage ($18) match the grilled Albacore tuna, tomato, green bean, potato, hard-boiled egg and olive salad.

Not wanting to dither, I ask for a glass of each.

The strawberries and cream of the pink holds up to the tuna and the hint of sweetness in the Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris-blend Collage works well with the salad dressing.

Besides the divine food and drink, Liquidity Bistro offers chic seating indoors in front of the open kitchen or outdoors by the infinity pool.

We sit outside to enjoy the filtered sunlight and the water and Valley views.

On the way to or from lunch, you can also sample other wines made by Alison Moyes – the signature Estate Pinot Noir ($26), Estate ($26) and Reserve ($42) Chardonnays, Viognier ($25), Pinot Gris ($18) and even a prosecco-style sparkler simply called Bubbly ($23).

The winery also doubles as an art gallery.

You can't miss Jeff Burgess' giant canvases of the Pope painting and The Dinner Party and be sure to check out the art installations at both the front and back of the winery.


Wine goes with anything and everything, even all the combinations and permutations of events at the International Triathlon Union's Multisport World Championships in Penticton Aug. 18-27.

As such, Township 7 Winery on the nearby Naramata Bench has created two Multisport proprietary wines.

The 2016 Trivino ($20) is a summer-in-a-glass white blend of Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Riesling.

It acquired its moniker in a name-the-wine contest for athletes who wanted to mash up the tri from triathlon and the Italian vino for wine.

The 2015 Marisol ($25) is named after the International Triathlon Union's president Marisol Casado.

It's a red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon with classic Bordeaux-style flavours of black cherry, cassia, cedar and cocoa and soft tannins.

The wines are expected to be a quick sell out because they are drinkable souvenirs.

They are available only at the winery, online at or by the glass or bottle at the at the Hooded Merganser restaurant at Penticton Lakeside Resort.

Of course, the wines will also be poured at the Multisport Team Canada welcome party on Aug. 21 at the winery.


After 13 years of holding Chef Meets BC Grape events in Vancouver, Calgary and Victoria, the food-and-wine extravaganza is finally coming to the Okanagan.

The inaugural Chef Meets BC Grape, Okanagan edition, entails four parties in the South Okanagan Aug. 24-27.

On the 24th, Nk'Mip Cellars in Osoyoos hosts the $130-a-head First Nations Elements dinner with winemaker Justin Hal and Aboriginal chef Shane Chartrand, Orlin Godfrey from Nk'Mip and Matthias Fong of River Cafe in Calgary.

The $165-a-plate Icons of Food & Wine dinner at Burrowing Owl Winery in Oliver on the 25th is already sold out.

Taste of the Okanagan ($115 or $155 for VIP tickets) is the outdoor festival at See Ya Later Ranch in Okanagan Falls on the 26th featuring 40 wineries offering tastings, food stations, wine seminars and demonstrations.

Food Network star chefs Mark McEwan, Nicole Gomes, Trevor Bird and Connie DeSousa will all be there.

The long weekend wraps up on the 27th with a $110 Bubbles and Brunch at Terrafina by Raudz restaurant at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver where six chefs, including Rod Butters of Raudz, will create dishes to match the sparkling wines.

Tickets at


Steve MacNaull is The Okanagan Weekend's business and wine reporter and columnist. Reach him at