Early October is Wine Fest time in the Okanagan Valley and the Festival of the Grape in Oliver, BC has become a premier event with a distinctly family-friendly vibe. They have grown from 300 attendees the first year, to well over 4,000 this year. “2014 is our breakout year,” says Bonnie Dancey, CEO of the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce which organizes FOG. “People are very impressed with what we have to offer above and beyond the great wine tasting opportunities from our fabulous Okanagan wineries.”
Taking over the grounds of the Oliver Recreation Centre, with 50 wineries, 60 vendors & artisans, 15 different food vendors, and live entertainment by the Paperboys, the party atmosphere of Festival of the Grape is apparent as soon as you walk through the gates and are handed your own FOG wineglass!
The opportunity to taste such a variety of wines in one location is unique. Each wine coupon ($1 each) gets you a 1 ounce sample of wine, so it’s easy to taste away the day. The kids won’t let you linger too long, however, as the special kids area awaits!
Once you make your way past the Fire Truck and Grape Stomping stage, you enter the domain of children known as the Chateau de Kids! With bouncy castles, petting zoo, giant games, and their own DJ, children can party hard! The FOG organizers have worked diligently to create a child friendly environment, and they’ve succeeded in making the festival fun for every member of the family from toddler to tween.
The grape stomping competition is a hit! You definitely need to pick a team to root for, to make it more exciting. Teams of 5 compete by stomping grapes in a barrel, and the winner is the one who has produced the most juice. A throwback to old wine making techniques, it’s a hoot to watch both for the spirited competitiveness and for the ew-factor. The Walnut Beach Nut Crushers, a team representing the Walnut Beach Resort in Osoyoos, BC where we stayed, bested the completion with 38 pounds of grape juice! That’s a lot of toe squishing fun!
Festival of the Grape is an annual event put on by the folks at the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, and is yet another great reason to visit the beautiful Okanagan Valley. Will we see you there next year?