Over the past 25 years, BC's Okanagan Valley has developed a wine and food culture to rival that of Sonoma and Napa. One of the pioneers in this extreme makeover was Grey Monk Winery, which began producing quality vinifera wines way back in the 70s. Although we have enjoyed Grey Monk's wines, especially now that their tasting room is in its spectacular new timbered building, we have not eaten there since the Grapevine opened a few years ago. That was a mistake.
Only a few minutes north of Kelowna, and three hours and five from Vancouver and Seattle respectfully, the winery is located above beautiful Lake Okanagan, and the restaurant, surrounded by 100 acres of vineyard, takes full advantage of its magnificent setting, placing diners on a broad veranda that provides stunning views north and south along the lake and low mountains. As we ate and sipped wine, the sun slowly slipped behind the mountains to our west, and the sunscreens which help keep the dining area cool during summer days, rose magically, revealing an astonishing panorama up and down the valley that would be hard to match anywhere in the world.
But as we know, lots of restaurants can by lovely locations and turn out mediocre food. This is certainly not the case with the Grapevine -- far from it. From the local goat cheese and apple salad to my flavourful lamb leg and sirloin, the food was absolutely outstanding. Chef Willi Franz has earned lots of awards in the last few years, and it's easy to see why. Accompanied by the winery's own dry and delicious chardonnay and their rich Odyssey cabernet and merlot (while the white grapes are grown primarily on the vineyards surrounding the winery, Gray Monk accesses its reds from top vineyards in the southern Okanagan) and the whole experience enhanced by friendly, efficient service, this is a great restaurant in a fabulous location.
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