Amidst the countless wineries clustered up and down the length of the 200-kilometre Okanagan Valley the architecturally impressive Mission Hill Family Estate stands out as one of those magnificent structures that anchors a city. The postcard-perfect estate located in Kelowna is of formidable measure—in size, in scale, and in sort.
The entry gates to Mission Hill Family Estate pointedly force vehicles to slow their speed when passing through; an allée bordered by oak trees helps transition from the hurried pace of daily life into the world of winemaking. As you pass under the curved arches that are held together by a single keystone carrying proprietor Anthony von Mandl’s family crest, the view gives way to the courtyard. Once inside, the eye is drawn to the imposing 12-storey bell tower, where four bronze bells handcrafted by Fonderie Paccard in France (the same foundry that cast the bells for New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral) ring on the hour.
At midday, the bells chime a symphonic cadence as if to signal the hour to break bread. The al fresco Terrace Restaurant, which overlooks vines of pinot noir and chardonnay, is open seasonally from May through September. Chef Patrick Gayler prepares fare to further complement the Mission Hill Family Estate wines, all the while adhering to the winery’s overall mission of sustainable and local.
The charcuterie board delivers big on flavour and the selection of cured meats are made in-house, the aging done during the off-season; the Terroir Collection rosé is the wine to pair. Strawberry rhubarb and garden herbs accompany the organic grass-fed milk fresh cheese; the estate honey harvested from on-site bees will have you drenching your spoon for more in your own indulgent Winnie the Pooh moment.
Roasted scallops with house cured bacon is delightful; the durum wheat orecchiette with clams and celery root should be paired with the Mission Hill Perpetua chardonnay. The dry-aged Yarrow Meadows duck is delectable (add a side of the triple-fried frites); and the sturgeon is sourced from Northern Divine Aquafarms. There is an extensive Mission Hill Family Estate wine portfolio at your fingertips, the servers and somms eager to share telling details. Other highlights include the Juniper smoked white sturgeon and Cache Creek beef bavette. Cherries canned in Oculus—the Bordeaux-style blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot—are not a menu item, but should you have the chance to try, let me tell you: you will never forget. To have these served as mignardises? They would make for a prized parting gesture from the kitchen.
From the farms to the table and the fields to the cellar, Mission Hill Family Estate is as grand as a food-and-wine experience gets. And with a setting this splendid, take the time to sip; take the time to swallow; take the time to savour.
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