We were in Vernon, enjoying a weekend at “Sparkling Hill”. Our check out was 11am, but our flight not until 7pm. So we filled our time with wineries, visiting as many as we could on our way to the airport. But sadly it was raining today so all the other tourists had the same idea, and we joined the roaming crowd.

Our first stop was “Grey Monk”, the largest of all the wineries in Lake Country. It was a beautiful property, two levels, with tall steeples and separated off sections. It gave you the impression of a monastery, befitting of their name.

We began with a wine tasting, 4 tastes for $5, a fee waved if you purchase a bottle of their wine. We flew and only had carry on luggage, so the option of taking any bottles back with us, was off the table. You had your choice between 4 of their whites, 1 rose, 3 reds, and 1 sparkling.

The following is what my girl friend and I tasted between us. They are most known for their Pinot Gris, as the first growers of it in Canada, back in 1972; so started with that. The winery would actually open 10 years later, in 1982.

The 2017 Gewürztraminer wasn’t as sweet as I expected.

The 2017 Rose was produced with a little pinot gris in it.

The 2016 Odyssey pinot noir was a medium red.

The 2015 Estate Cabernet Merlot contained a blend of cab sav and merlot together.

From there it was a stone’s throw to their gift shop. They had all sorts of knick knacks to tempt you with. The type you get at most wineries, like drinking accessories and glasses, plus plenty of fun souvenirs. We picked up a beaded bracelet of good intentions, a bag of merlot flavoured chips, and a couple of sun hats with wine related saying. I got “rose si vous plait” and my girl friend “Prosecco Princess”. And the latter two quickly became rain hats as we navigated the open property, to our next stop: their on property restaurant.

We were patience for a table by the rainy patio view. If you are going to dine in the Okanagan, you want to take in as much of the view as possible. But what we got was cloudy skies, faint mountains, and pools of rippling water. But I still preferred it over any table by the door.

Here, we enjoyed more wine in our cocktails. My guest had the “Grey Monk 75”. An Earl grey infused gin and their Odyssey Brut. I didn’t get any gin, it tasted more like a mimosa with enough orange flavouring that I asked if this was the right drink. It was.

I had the “Iced slush” in Riesling apricot, but it also comes in a rose berry. The former just seemed more unique. It was a tart slush, more juice than spirit. Sadly they only had a paper straw to drink with, so the slush wouldn’t travel up it, or got caught along the softened sides. I eventually gave up and finished the rest of my cocktail like a soup.

For a starter we had the “Crispy spiced calamari” with black garlic mayo, tzatziki cream, and a spicy pepper slaw. You could taste the quality in this, a good amount of breading to get the crunch, but not so much that you can’t taste the actual squid. I just wished that there was more of it. The dish was more dipping sauces than the squid you dip into it with. The slaw offered more substance and it balanced out the grease with its tangy flavour, and the red peppers packed more punch than I thought they would.

I had ordered the “Lake country mushrooms with local baby zucchini, soft poached egg, grassroot Gouda, shaved radish, and cured yolk”; expecting a sautéed mushroom medley. Instead what I got was a salad featuring mushrooms. I informed our server that I didn’t expect a salad and that the menu didn’t read like it would be. She told us that the dish has transitioned and that they just haven’t gotten around to correcting it on the menu. That in reality many of their customers asked for more greens with the dish, and here I was feeling like I got tricked into ordering an expensive salad. She offered to give me a bowl of mushrooms on the side, to which I declined. But did end up taking it to off the bill, due to my disappointment of it and my cocktail above. As for flavour, the greens were bitter, the mushrooms too salty, this seasoning would have been better served as a risotto. My girl friend ended up finishing this for me, as I enjoyed the entree below more.

“Sterling springs chicken paprikash” with fresh tagliatelle pasta, candied chillis, smoked mushrooms, cherry tomato, and sour cream. It was a comforting pasta dish. Familiar mild spices and seasonings, with the slippery texture of the cream over firm noodles. The tomatoes offered nice pops of freshness and I could have done without the dry chicken.

Having eaten our fill, and growing tired of the rain, we retreated into a cab to travel the rest of Lake Country one winery at a time.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A nice winery to visit when in Lake Country. A great view on a sunny day, decent food, plenty of drinks, and one of the best gift shops in the area to pick up souvenirs from. Don’t deny your cravings.

GRAY MONK
1055 Camp Rd, Lake Country, BC V4V 2H4
(250) 766-3168
graymonk.com