get a job – in BC wine country

Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm
Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm, July 2014 – author photo

 

You’re so lucky to live in the Okanagan. I wish I could.

Guess what? You can.

In 2006, my fella and I decided to leave the big city. I was working in human resources at Vancity Credit Union and he was (still is) a merchandiser with Canadian Tire. Our combined income was probably what many expect a single person to live on in Vancouver. So when looking to purchase a home with a garage (my fella wanted the garage, not the home), we chose to move somewhere else. One year later we’d sold our condo, found jobs, and bought a home.

I miss Vancouver. I love the Okanagan. There’s nothing wrong with holding those sentiments simultaneously. Did I give up a skookum gig with an upward career trajectory? Yes. Are we living in the same fashion here? No. We could if we wanted, but we didn’t move to replicate our urban life. There I didn’t write. Here I do. That’s difference enough.

My first gig on moving to the Okanagan was in a winery tasting room. I washed and polished glassware, swept the floors, and cleaned the bathrooms. Daily cashout included sipping a glass of wine. In my second week I found a rattlesnake curled up behind the front tire of my car – so I lingered on the patio with another glass of wine.

When I was inevitably laid off at the end of the season I found a job, this time in an office for administrative-y type work. That kept me going while I finished university (I drove to Vancouver every other week for the first year we lived here, to complete my undergraduate degree) and while I stretched my writing wings until I could eventually dive into the unfamiliar world of freelance work.

The timeline: five years.

This time of year, many of my Okanagan business friends are hiring staff for the season. While I can’t help you make the decision to haul stakes and join us in the wilderness (the tasty, BC wine wilderness), I’m happy to share with you some of the awesome gigs available at lovely places where you could work with nice people.

Local Lounge * Grille (Summerland): Top of the food chain for service and quality, with a stellar new executive chef on board as of April. Relentless in their pursuit to deliver excellent customer service, this is an ideal environment to excel at over-delivering. Hiring for both front and back of house, email your resume to employment@thelocalgroup.ca.

Miradoro Restaurant (Oliver): Flawless dining experiences, for both service and cuisine. Restaurateur Manuel call-me-Manny Ferreira and executive chef Jeff van Geest bring their A-game to every day. They cultivate one of the most engaged and proud teams in hospitality. Hiring server, server assistants, and back of house, email resumes to info@miradoro.ca or stop by in person. (PS: Tinhorn Creek is also hiring in the wine shop, vineyard, and for grounds maintenance)

doLci Socialhouse (Osoyoos): A brunch/mid-afternoon/evening watering hole, frequented by locals and recently refitted from the former “doLci Deli”. Now with a focus on small plates, evening specials, and local beer/wine/spirits, doLci is the answer to the ongoing Okanagan question of what do we do in the evening?. Answer: hang out here. One more thing: house cured bacon. Now hiring servers and cooks, apply to lunch@dolcideli.com.

Wine Jobs: They’re everywhere right now. Search for a particular winery you’d like to work at and check for employment listings. Or, visit one of these aggregate sites:

  • Wine Plus+: MW Rhys Pender posts BC wine jobs shared with him
  • WineBC.org: the British Columbia Wine Institute posts BC wine jobs on behalf of member wineries
  • Wine Jobs Canada: MW James Cluer posts wine jobs from across Canada

The next time you think I’m lucky to live here, know that yes indeed I feel that I am – but I (and those living here) work very hard to stay here, so luck really has nothing to do with it.

~ Jeannette

of TIME and place

People and place are what lend time context. We can measure it, but we can’t make it – and maybe that helps gives time a value.

Someone who has given one place (the Okanagan) a great deal of his time is Harry McWatters. 2013 marks his 46th vintage in winemaking – a remarkable amount of time in any industry.

The McWatters timeline includes planting what was in its day the largest vineyard in Canada, purchasing fallow land others shook their heads at in disbelief, and starting unproven Bordeaux reds in the Okanagan desert. Add to that the founding of a quality assurance program (today’s VQA brand), growing one of the most successful wineries in British Columbia (Sumac Ridge, later sold to larger commercial interests), and retiring a few years ago only to restart a second (or third? fourth?) career – still in the wine industry. Bringing the word “meritage” to Canada? Harry did that, too.

If people and place lend time its context, then Harry was meant to launch TIME Estate Winery in the Okanagan.

The winery license was obtained in 2011, and TIME began its first vintage of Chardonnay and Meritage (red and white). The people behind the brand are Harry, partner Bob Wareham, and Dick Cleave, viticulturist. Current vintages have been made under the watch of Township7 winemaker Bradley Cooper, acting as Harry’s hands in the process.

Time, it could be said, is on their side.

2011 TIME Chardonnay $27.99: looks like pale liquid gold; smells like hazelnuts and butter; tastes… like it looks and smells.

2012 TIME Meritage (white) $25: looks like sun-bleached straw; smells like honeysuckle, pear, peach, cantaloupe, pineapple…; tastes bright and beautiful, like a summer day after a sun shower.

2011 TIME Meritage (red) $29.99: looks like garnets drowned in ink; smells like memories of boot leather, cherries and cocoa, sage; tastes like the okanagan.

Wine country isn’t just a place anymore. It’s an attitude.

~ Harry McWatters

TIME Estate Winery media launch in the Okanagan, at Local Lounge * Grille in Summerland on June 20 2013 – just in time for summer solstice
the three elements of TIME: red meritage, white meritage, and chardonnay
elegance in the details – from the wine itself, to all aspects of presentation
the faces of TIME, l-r: Harry McWatters, Bob Wareham, and Dick Cleave
the new facility for TIME will include a hospitality centre, commercial kitchen, four luxury guest suites, and a lap pool – all but buried into the hillside to be as integrated into the landscape and unobtrusive as possible – architect: Nick Bevanda, CEI Architecture
Local Lounge Executive Chef Lee Humphries matched TIME wines with his new menu: tuna tatami with orange-honey gel paired exquisitely with the TIME 2012 white meritage
a study in glassware: the TIME 2012 white meritage in two options, both unique and delicious
second course: wild pacific seared salmon, grilled romaine, asparagus, clam-chorizo sauce verige – paired delectably with TIME 2011 Chardonnay
third course: roasted lamb rump, crushed minted spring peas, polenta croutons, tomatoes in texture, olive jus – paired magnificently with TIME 2011 red meritage
the pickled cherry chocolate truffle – just because
Okanagan, your TIME has most certainly arrived

best third glasses

As I shove my arms through sweater sleeves and cling desperately to the notion of wearing Birkenstock sandals, I realize summer has printed its online boarding pass and is at the departure gate. le sigh…

This means a new season approaches, and while I’m ready for the onset of fall – and love it dearly – I must take a moment to reflect on what the best third glasses have been of this waning summer season. Here they are, randomly selected from my muddied memory banks.

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wrapping art for a client – and loving every minute of it

new spaces

I started a business this year. It’s been two months, and I’m still having what-the-hell-have-i-done moments. Friends advise me this will last a long, long while. A few sips were had at my  new space, M gallery | book. We drank plenty Tinhorn Creek wines, thanks to Sandra and Kenn Oldfield; chowed down on ridiculously tasty treats made by Chef Paul at Local Lounge, thanks to Cam and Christa-Lee Bond; kept caffeinated with delicious beans from Good Omens Coffee, thanks to Jamie and Jason Embree (who got married this summer – congrats!). It was a cornucopia of magnificent tastes, and I’m truly grateful to have had a few sips with such fabulous people.

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1600 wines, and far too little recognition for the people who make it happen – be they volunteer, staff, judge

1600 wines

The Okanagan Falls Winery Association invited me to dine with them as they hosted the judges from Wine Access, who were in town to evaluate 1600 wines entered from across Canada. Roland and Hagen at Wild Goose hosted a great night at their new wine shop; Dana of Joy Road Catering fed us with the most incredible (fresh, local) food; the Association wineries warmly welcomed the judges (and me, the hanger-on) to their distinctive region. An invite to check out behind-the-scenes at such a massive wine competition = unparalleled joy on my part. And really, no envy. That’s a LOT of wine.

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so many wines, so much deliciousness

hops, and hospitality

350+ wine bloggers walked into a conference room…and a bar, and a hotel, and basically took over part of Portland over four days. The 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference was a highlight of new friends, old acquaintances, and getting sidetracked. From an overwhelming opening reception by Oregon Wines, to a captivating keynote speech by Randall Grahm, a detour by Sideways author Rex Pickett to a Bonny Doon tasting, and an exploration of Oregon and area IPAs by Wes of Dobbes Winery (he went above and beyond, that one), this year’s conference was hands-down a brilliant experience. Fun fact: I like hops.

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Canadian indie-rock-uber-musicians Sloan, playing at Tinhorn Creek in Oliver (I know!)

musical interludes

There were a number of third glasses this summer set to a musical score, most of them within a five minute drive of my house. Lucky me, indeed. Strategic placement aside, the best way to explore a few glasses is barefoot on a warm summer night, dancing, surrounded by friends. That’s what I did – several times, strictly for quality control purposes and research. (and I stand by my earlier claim that it takes 3 glasses to get a Canadian audience on the dance floor/lawn)

PS: SLOAN!