La Petite Paille

For those of you that know French, this can be translated to “The Little Straw”. After visiting 14 wineries on the trip to My Own Backyard, this was by far, one of my favourite wineries in the tour.  Small, intimate, and highly personal.  I got to walk amongst the precious fruit of the vine that I enjoy, educate about and love.

My 13-year-old daughter Chynna, was hired for the day to be my official photographer, and what an excellent choice THAT was!  She took her job very seriously, and made sure she got some great shots! (Which she totally did.) So stay tuned for not only this post, but a few more in the next couple of days of my experiences in the Okanagan Valley, in my home country….Canada.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the second stop on my first day of wine touring, and little did I know, that I would have a first hand look at the life of a family run vineyard and winery. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Marechal Foch, Pinot Noir, Auxerrois, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Lemberger….with 13 acres under vine, this little vineyard is making a BIG splash in the Okanagan! On Boucherie Road in West Kelowna, many of the vines were planted over 40 years ago by founder and patriarch Joseph Slamka.  As my daughter (my official photographer) is following me through the vineyards, my husband was left to browse the rest of the property including the tasting room.  I had already tasted, and persuaded Rick Slamka to take me on a “tour” of the vineyards.  Graciously, he had the time, and although he was concerned about my attire, I really didn’t care…”Bring it, let’s go!” I stated emphatically.

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Amongst the Sauvignon Blancs

Learning about the vines first hand, there is no spraying, just a lot of “weed whacking” in between rows and just letting the vines do their thing.  The fruit is being exposed now, and the leaves blocking them are pulled away by hand. Rick Slamka has spent some significant time in the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuit.  His Pinot Noirs reflect the Burgundian style, and his Sauvignon Blancs are very reminiscent of a Loire Valley Sancerre. (He leaves for Spain in the next couple of weeks!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Marechal Foch grapes starting to ripen

Definitely a great learning experience for me, and I loved walking “amongst the vines”.  The Marechal Foch was starting to ripen, so my expert photographer made sure to get those shots in as well.  This trip was really beginning to be worth my while, and I was no longer concerned about “staying on schedule”.  I would get to the next winery/vineyard in due time….

Meanwhile….my husband gets greeted by an elderly man, who we find out later is THE Joe Slamka…the gentleman himself who started this fine vineyard.  And what a gracious man he was!  He invited us up to his personal home for some “coffee, tea, wine, or whatever you’d like!”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Myself, my husband and daughter had the privilege of meeting this humble, gracious man and his lovely wife.  And while my husband carried on a conversation with Joe in his living room, I was being poured a glass of Tapestry, the Little Straw white blend in a tumbler. I. Loved. It.  No pretension, just a great deal of humbleness in my opinion. And I finished every last drop.  It wasn’t difficult!

And at the end of this tour, I myself, came away a little more humbled, and thankful for people like Joe (and his wife) who gave up everything in Slovakia and Vienna, Austria respectively, to come over to my amazing country, and grow a few grape vines.  I will never forget this experience….never.

At the end of it, I was proud to show off my “dirty feet”!  Special thanks to my sweet Chynna, for taking such stellar photos!

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