Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We need a ‘tom-tom’


After a very windy night and losing the outside garbage can to a gust of wind we are happy to report that it has been returned to it's rightful spot beside the trailer door.

This morning the weather was a bit cloudy but the sun came out before long and we were well along the way to yet another sunny day. After spending the morning doing our usual activities, we headed out on the highway towards Okanangan Falls once again. We seemed to have worn a path down this stretch of Highway 97 towards Tickleberry's Ice Cream.


Before we arrived at Tickleberry's we stopped at Stag's Hollow Winery...the following is an excerpt from the winery's website..


‘Established in 1995, Stag's Hollow Winery is one of the hidden wineries and undiscovered gems in the South Okanagan Valley. Nestled in the hills, it is surrounded by vineyards, mountains and large tracts of land owned by the Nature Trust.


From the beginning, hands on owners, Larry Gerelus & Linda Pruegger, believe their passion and involvement in every aspect of the vineyard and winemaking process has created a unique style. This style is a fusion of both Old and New world.

2009238223244253This is exemplified in our very popular Sauvignon Blanc, which some critics have likened to a Sancerre from France, while others say it leans more to a New Zealand style. We like to think it is uniquely Stag’s Hollow, expressing the terror of the Okanagan with minimal winemaking intervention.

From the day the vineyard was purchased in 1992, concerns for the environment have been a priority at Stag’s Hollow. A geothermal system was built into our home and winery building in 1995 at a time when going ‘green’ was not yet the thing to do. When space in this facility ran out, a new winery building was constructed in 2005, which again included a geothermal system.

This system heats and cools the winery building, heats and cools all the wine tanks and provides different heating and cooling requirements to the barrel room, fermentation room and wine storage areas. In addition, high efficiency windows, energy efficient lighting, and high insulation values were utilized throughout the building. All these environmental initiatives earned Stag’s Hollow recognition from Fortis BC and the Federal Government in 2006.’

2009238223250656Two more bottles are now added to my collection of Okanagan Wines..this is getting to be an addiction!!

Once we were done at the winery it was time for lunch!!..Tickleberry's Ice Cream here we come...after our fill of ice cream we were off to find the BLASTED CHURCH.


In a previous entry I mentioned that we had gone to the Blasted Church Winery and that there was an actual church. We had success and found this 103 year old church on Willow Street in Okanagan Falls.

After we were done in Okanagan Falls we took Green Lake Road..


heading south towards Oliver and we found another winery stop..this one was called See Ya Later Ranch.

2009238223329382The following excerpt is from the See Ya Later Ranch website explaining the history of this beautiful winery...

‘See Ya Later Ranch is located outside of the town of Okanagan Falls, British Columbia in an atmosphere of old world timelessness. The winery’s tasting room and wine shop are housed in the estate’s well-restored, heritage stone home, which dates back to the early 1900s.


A patio offers visitors a place to relax while taking in the spectacular view. The wine shop and tasting room are open year-round, and tours of the winery are offered May to October.

2009238223427609The winery produces premium varietals that include Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Meritage, Semillon,Icewine, and a classical method Brut.

2009238223421946Located high above Okanagan Valley, Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards is now known as "See Ya Later Ranch", as it was once known years ago.

In 2003, a series of wines were created under the See Ya Later Ranch name to salute both the site's quirky history and also the man who first planted grapes in the beautiful mountain setting.

See Ya Later Ranch wines are in honour of Major Hugh Fraser, who was born in 1885 and died in 1970 at the age of 85. In celebration of the Major's pioneering life in the Okanagan,the See Ya Later Ranch (SYL) series were unveiled.


The vineyard site was first established as a working ranch in the early 1900s by the Hawthorne Brothers. The brothers and their families stayed on the ranch until shortly before it was sold to Major Fraser.
Major Fraser first visited the Okanagan as a guest of a local playwright, C.C. Atkins, and loved it so much he stayed.

After a stuffy upbringing in Eastern Canada and time spent as a prisoner during the First World War, the Major found the freedom and open skies of the Okanagan Valley to be the ideal frontier for his outgoing personality.

The Major made the ranch his home for more than 45 years. Like any true local celebrity, the folklore surrounding him is sometimes murky, a blending of myth and reality. One story notes that the Major, a compassionate man, was said to have fired a maid over the treatment of a pet, while others tell of elaborate social gatherings that lasted for days.

2009238223418740What is known for sure is that the Major became a favourite among the locals, due to his kind nature, eccentric parties and his love of dogs. His many dogs were given free run of the ranch and were ultimately laid to rest in a doggy cemetery that still exists at the winery. His favourite pets were given headstones engraved with their names, dates of birth and deaths.

The label for See Ya Later Ranch wine series features a white dog with angel wings in celebration of "man's best friend", the individualist lifestyle of the Major and the pioneering spirit that has always surrounded the winery site.

2009238223410345According to Winemaker Dave Carson, while the label may be light hearted, the wine in the bottles is anything but. "These are serious wines that the team is very proud of," says Carson. "These are the new tradition for Hawthorne Mountain. We believe the Major would definitely approve of SYL Ranch and its wines."

See Ya later Ranch’s tasting room and wine shop remain in the Major's old home, which is made of hand-split stone and dates back to the 1900s. The winery is worth a visit for its well-crafted VQA wines served in an atmosphere of old world timelessness. A patio offers visitors a place to enjoy a glass of wine (and something to eat in the summer) and take in the spectacular view of the surrounding valley, vineyards and lakes.

Located just 15 minutes south of Penticton, British Columbia and only five kilometres from the town of Okanagan Falls, the drive to the winery offers the scenery of the Okanagan Valley, Skaha Lake, and the historic See Ya Later Ranch site.

Major Hugh Fraser..
Born in Montreal in 1885, Hugh Fraser graduated from McGill University in 1912 and was engaged as an accountant until the outbreak of war in 1914. He enlisted immediately and was stationed in France, where he was captured by German troops in 1916. He spent the next two years living in one of three prisoner-of-war camps for commissioned officers and was released when the Armistice was signed in 1918.

After the war, Major Fraser returned to Canada and accepted an invitation from a friend, Naramata playwright C.C. Atkins, to visit the Okanagan. He loved the wild, scenic valley. Quickly determining that he wanted to make it his permanent home, he purchased the Hawthorne ranch. Although he lived in a remote location, the Major was a social person who loved nothing better than a good party.

He was also a prolific letter-writer, staying in touch with dignitaries around the world like Lady Shaughnessy, Princess Patricia and the Duke of Connaught.
He would end each letter with the signature phrase, "see ya later," which was shortened to the letters S.Y.L. and led to the naming of the property – SYL Ranch.

It is unclear as to how the Major made his living, or if the financial feasibility of the ranch was even of concern to him. Prior to the invention of electric pumps, constant water supply was an issue, making farming the ranch a challenging enterprise. A few head of cattle grazed the land and most likely the Major kept chickens and a milk cow.

The Major was the first to plant grapes at the ranch and was a true pioneer of viticulture, being one of the first to plant Marechal Foch, Chelois, Buffalo and Bath. None of these grapes exist at the ranch today since they are not favoured by modern winemakers; however, the wine-growing tradition was established at the time and it was recorded that the site was an excellent one for grape production.

The Major lived at the ranch until 1966. He then moved 24 kilometres north to Penticton, where he became active in community projects. He was a patron of the S.P.C.A. and served as its president for five years. He was also a director of the Penticton chapter of the Red Cross for 10 years.

The Major, who remained single and did not have any children, was content to spend most of his life with his dogs as his main source of companionship. The dogs came in all shapes and sizes over the 50-year period that the Major was a pet owner, but according to locals, Scotch Collies were one of his favourite breeds.

The Major passed away in 1970. Unfortunately, with no immediate family in the area, most of his possessions and treasures did not remain in the valley, although some of his prized belongings were donated to the Penticton Museum.’

Keeping consistent with this winery holiday, another purchase was made of one bottle of pinot gris and also a bottle of RUFUS TEAGUE BARBECUE SAUCE.


We continued south on Green Lake Road heading towards Oliver, passing three lakes along the way. One of the lakes is called Mahoney Lake, an ecological reserve.

Mahoney Lake has a depth of 18 metres and a surface area of 21.6 hectares. It occupies
glacially formed kettle depression and has no outflow. The surrounding and underlying bedrock is fractured lava of highly alkali composition.
Mahoney is one of the few meromictic lakes in the province.


These lakes have very limited circulation and the unusual water chemistry creates strong stratification of water layers. The upper surface waters are clear and have a variety of plant and animal life, including algae,plankton, and aquatic insects.


Under this surface zone is a layer or plate of purple sulphur bacteria that extends across the lake. This layer is the most striking feature of the ecological reserve and is considered to be the best example of a purple sulphur bacteria plate in the world.

Once we had stopped to take a few photos of this lake we continued to travel south on Green Lake Road, passing through the town of Willowbrook, population 175.

It was after we passed this town that we made a wrong turn, or rather did not turn when we should have and we wound up at a junction that would have taken us to Twin Lakes or Penticton...once we got to the Radio Observatory we knew we had a made an error..dumb dumbs..should have turned at the stop sign at Fairview Road.....we need a "TOMTOM"..!!!

We turned around and headed back the same way we came and found the right way back to Oliver and Highway 97. We finally made it back to our campsite after our big adventure!!

It was only a 10 kilometer error, but we got some good pictures, so in the end it was worth it!!! Sometimes it pays to go off the beaten never know what you will find!!

We found some great spots for geocaches to be if only we had a GPS..there may have been some caches to be found!!!


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