Eliza Wine Bar is the highlight of Okanagan travel

Wine director Emily Walker has put together exciting hard-to-find local wines, some you’ve probably never heard of from small, thoughtful producers.



Where: 3625 1 Street, Naramata

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When: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday

Reservations and information: 778-514-5444, naramatainn.com

Terrafina restaurant

Where: Hester Creek Estate cellar in 887 Highway 8, Oliver

When: Lunch and dinner, every day

Reservations and information: 250-498-2229; hestercreek.com


Where: 522 Fairview Road, Oliver

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., every day

Reservations and information: 250-498-0350. popocafe.com

In June 2021, I was fried by the heat dome on the streets of the South Okanagan. But this June, the ever-sunny Okanagan rained on my biking plans, but I did catch up with a few restaurants on my list to try.

The highlight was the Eliza Wine Bar at the Naramata Inn, where chef Ned Bell and his wife Kate Colley sprayed magic on the historic inn built by John Moore Robinson who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, incorporated and developed the towns of Summerland, Peachland. and Naramata.

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The wine bar is named after Robinson’s wife.

“As you can imagine, there isn’t a lot of documentation on Eliza,” says Bell, “but we wanted to congratulate her.”

As he does with Kate, calling her his “rock” twice during an interview.

The wine bar that opened in April shares a kitchen with the restaurant upstairs at Naramata Inn and on warm days, Eliza spills out onto a cobblestone patio. Thus, in a previous incarnation of the inn, the same room was called the Cobblestone Wine Bar.

Since most of the best restaurants in the Okanagan are housed in wineries and showcase their own wines, and wine club members are often the first to sample the most coveted wines, a wine bar can allay your fears of missing out. . Wine director Emily Walker has put together exciting hard-to-find local wines, some she’s probably never heard of from small, thoughtful producers, including library vintage collections.

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“You will always find something interesting from Bella Wines that is only available in Naramata,” he says. Or something from Plot Wines in Kaleden. “We were lucky enough to get a few cases of their delicious Tempranillo.”

You might find sold-out releases from Ursa Major or a beautiful Pinot Noir from Fox & Archer, “a relative newcomer that is quickly building a reputation for its expressive, single-block Pinots.”

Rainbow trout platter at Eliza.  Photo: John Holland
Rainbow trout platter at Eliza. Photo: John Holland jpg

On the international side, Walker favors low intervention producers who highlight the terroir.

“If you’ve never tasted a Jacquère from the Savoie region, you can enjoy a glass of this spicy, mineral white wine,” she says.

Grower Domain Labbé sells just a handful of boxes to the Canadian market each year. And for the curious palate, there is always a rotating flight of unique vintages grown in three different local terroirs.

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The food menu offers sharing plates to accompany local wines, beers and cocktails. Bell is a locovore ascetic and tries his best to fulfill the hyperlocal spirit of the inn. About 90 to 95 percent of the ingredients are from BC or Canada. The quality and aesthetic of the food at Eliza matches the restaurant above and plates range from $15 to $33.

The raw scallop came with apple vinaigrette and “Naramata fermented fodder treats”. A homemade cheese and spring onion tart was drizzled with verjus emulsion.

“It’s made with green (unripe) grapes from Lightning Rock Vineyards, juiced and lightly fermented and pasteurized,” says Bell.

Deprived of imported lemons and limes, it is its acid.

“I want to celebrate this place. I want to give people a reason to drive to Naramata and have a dinner that can only be had here,” says Bell.

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I loved the duck liver parfait, shaped like a doodle and served with homemade brioche toast and sides. A beautiful cured and smoked rainbow trout came from a land-based fishery on Vancouver Island.

“We use it during non-wild fish season, but starting tonight we will switch to wild BC,” Bell said.

Terrafin restaurant.  Photo: Mia Stainsby
Terrafin restaurant. Photo: Mia Stainsby jpg

I also visited the Terrafina restaurant at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver, with its attractive vine-covered patio. The restaurant was previously leased, most recently to Rod Butters of RauDZ in Kelowna. In 2019, the winery took over operations and hired chef Adair Scott of Watermark Resort in Osoyoos.

Mediterranean food pairs with the warm, big-bone Tuscan-style room. Entrees run between $23 and $52, the latter for a 10-ounce tenderloin from Two Rivers. Dishes are comfortably traditional, generous and solid. The thin-crust truffled potato pizza has a flavorful crust thanks to a 36-hour cold fermentation and doesn’t skimp on the cheese.

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“I can’t get rid of him. The guests will hang me from the cherry tree,” says Scott.

The cannelloni were well done with a fresh flavor tomato sauce, roasted courgette, broccoli and pecorino feta cheese that fill the freshly made pasta. The cumin-spiced leg of lamb was served with cucumber couscous and spiced yoghurt and seasonal risotto. Braised, then seared, it was tender and very good. We shared a chocolate avocado mousse for dessert, a three in one, satisfying diner that is dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free. Coconut milk and avocado substitute for dairy. Just like Eliza, the menu will have moved on to a lighter, more summery version. for now.

Like most wineries, Terrafina almost exclusively serves its own wines. Some Look out for include the Trebbiano, whose fruit grows on one of those old plantations, and The Judge, a delicious Bordeaux-style red blend. A house sangria, a few cocktails, and some local craft beers round out the drink list. Terrafina also offers cooking classes in a 14-seat demonstration kitchen that concludes with dinner and wine. It also organizes four new wine presentation dinners a year.

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I was hoping to have lunch at Popolo in Oliver, operated by Steeve Raye, known for its masterful pastas at Orto in North Van and French bistro food at Cafe La Regalade in Kitsilano. Unfortunately, severe staffing shortages forced him to temporarily close, and for now, he’s operating a food truck out of the restaurant with sweet and savory buckwheat pancakes, coffee, and ice cream. Recently, the crepe menu included specials of a savory morel, green onion, cheese and spinach and a sweet filling of local cherries with merlot and balsamic vinegar sauce. There are picnic tables and air-conditioned indoor eating areas.

“If I can find suitable cooks, I will reopen,” he says. “I can’t stay closed.” Upon reopening, he will return to his pasta-centric menu.

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I previously wrote about Elma in Penticton but visited on this trip with friends. His modern take on Turkish cuisine includes pide, or Turkish flatbread. The burrata with roasted eggplant, XO mushrooms, pickled peppers, and grilled bread was also a memory hunter.

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