“Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.” ~ Robert Fripp
Being blessed and cursed with an adventurer’s heart, I’m forever fantasizing about distant foreign lands. Fortunately, we have a plethora of awesome destinations right here in our neck of the woods — such as The Dream Cafe. The Cafe is a fabulous Penticton venue offering an acclaimed selection of live music, which I’ve been just itchin’ to visit since forever.
Our circular road trip through Napa-North, overnighting in Penticton, was peppered with ‘wet-your-whistle’ stops at numerous wineries ranging from funky to elegant, to downright pretentious. They say half the fun is in the journey and in this case it’s never been more true nor tasty. The most memorable stop on the journey there was a quirky little crow-inspired winery called Back Door in Summerland. Not only was the vino amazing, but the gregarious and entertaining staff made our day.
Arriving in Penticton, my companion and I checked into Casa Grande, a hospitable little southwestern themed B&B. The afternoon was spent touring the Naramata Bench, a wine lovers paradise. Our best picks there were Township 7 and Lake Breeze, which impressed me with generous sips of my absolute fave — super dry whites.
After regrouping back at the Casa we were off to the main event — Leeroy Stagger’s performance at The Dream Cafe. This bohemian-style cafe on Front Street is a foodie and music lovers haven. The warm, personal service, exotic ambiance and delicious dishes alone make the trip worthwhile. But we also felt fortunate to experience the musical story-telling of Leeroy Stagger and his talented band. Stagger is a B.C. born alternative country singer-songwriter, who now hails from Lethbridge. The musicianship and comradery of this tight little group and their engagement with the audience was a righteous thing. For me, this connection was extra special, as I enjoy a close pen-pal relationship with a buddy of theirs back home, who is also a musician and their go-to guy for instrumental repairs (and my go-to guy for mutual musing, fretting, venting and sharing of eclectic music from Skip James to Iggy Pop and everything in between). Small world.
After the performance we strolled under the moonlight back to our lodgings, wading along the shore of Okanagan Lake, humming Lee’s tunes and feeling the warm (in comparison to the North Thompson) waves roll in. What a lovely time. We were pleased Penticton has retained its small town feel.
Come morn we hit the road, looping back to The ‘Loops through Kelowna, Lake Country and Vernon. My favourite stop along the way being Quails’ Gate, where the knowledgable sommelier offered expert advice along with sips of their quality product. Wine tasting is a multi-sensory spiritual experience. First, one must examine the colour of the wine and smell the aroma, then let the rollercoaster ride of fruity flavours morph and blossom on one’s palate. Nirvana.
Our last hurrah involved a mini-feast of a locally sourced charcuterie board with sour dough breads on the terrace at Grey Monk Winery. Intoxicating wine, satisfying nibblies and inspiring song are all food for the soul — but the natural environment of the Okanagan’s rolling hills and lush vineyards, scenic cliffs and deep blue waters are also rejuvenating.
The weekend was a blast and it felt great to support hard working Canadian musicians, small local venues and accommodations. The sunny Okanagan makes for an easily accessible getaway ripe with wine and song.
(My next tipsy trippy tale might just occur on our very own Kamloops wine trail.)