The South Okanagan has always made me swoon. The drive alone from Peachland to Summerland is enough to do that. Recently, there’s been an explosion of new things to really kick up the food and drink scene in Penticton a notch. From our craft beer and cider trails to Asian eats to naturally fermented wines, there’s a lot going on.

Here’s an insider perspective into what’s new with hopefully just enough background to make you want to get to know them better yourself:

Wayne & Freda

The Okanagan is known for its power to draw people back in. It is an all too familiar tale that you hear over and over again, especially as I was also one of those people. Sometimes, you need to move away in order to really see how special it really is and that’s when the magic happens. This has been the case for Wayne and Freda’s owners, Jen and Ryan, who moved back from Vancouver to set up shop and make their romantic 10-year coffee shop dream a reality. Oh, and how they’ve blown it out of the water since opening this year.

Whether its the inviting look and feel with all its small touches by interior decorator, Jen, the lightly caffeinated atmosphere, the sustainable choices on their menu or the tribute to both their grandparents with choice of name, Wayne and Freda is a business with intent.

“We very much wanted to create a space that would elevate the neighbourhood and connect the community. Almost daily we get to see people run into each other here. Big smiles, often even bigger hugs are exchanged. Daily, there are tables of families and friends gathered to spend time together, to joys or to soften the blows of a hard day – these moments and exchanges are the life force behind this place”, says owner, Jen.

Well, how do I top that? The Okanagan is a place where people can truly dream. W&F has been a great addition to our community. Within walking distance to pretty much everything in the downtown core, this is the perfect spot to start your day before heading to the Penticton Farmers’ Market (or any day at that), to scheme away in one of their many nooks or to just say hi.

105-249 Westminster Avenue W, Penticton

Photo Credit: Wayne and Freda

 

Sushi Genki

Husband/wife tag team originally from Kumamoto City in Japan, who made their way to Canada via the Fairmount Banff Springs hotel before deciding to call Penticton home. As a former small family business, I applaud their ballsy open hour decisions in search of some work/life balance. Closed on weekends and open until 7:30 PM on the other days, I hope more follow.

Their tiny location is buzzing with takeout orders for their stellar sushi, ramen and udon. The washroom is behind the curtain through the kitchen, so that’s a pretty cool adventure in itself. Sushi Genki has been around for a number of years, but they’re new to me, so think of it as more of a hidden eat of the Okanagan. You’re welcome!

104-95 Eckhardt Avenue E, Penticton

 

JoieFarm

Winemaker/Owner, Heidi Noble is a chef turned self-taught winemaker and she makes delicious small lot wines.

This year, JoieFarm has amped up their collaboration game by teaming up with Yellow Dog to conspire on a barrel-aged beer/wine hybrid called ‘Like Minds’, which is available on tap in the winery’s Picnique area.

They also continue to spark conversation with their limited release experimental label called Chic Fille. It was also an opportunity for Heidi to revisit her self-taught roots and an opportunity for apprentice winemaker, Alyssa Hubert to shine.

Under this label is their, now sold out, Pinot Noir Rosé, which had an incredible raspberry lemonade colour to it with added sparkle, a Gewürztraminer that was left on skins for a sexy pink hue, a Pinot Blanc and two Pinot Noirs (fruit from the same vineyard, one fermented with ambient yeast and the other fermented with a Burgundian cultured yeast strain). In their words, ‘This collection is fun, flavourful, très chic adventure: a tour of cool-climate, lake-moderated terroir at its purest and natural winemaking techniques at their most elegant.’

The Picnique area is open with Benton Cheese, True Grain Baguettes and Oyama Sausage providing snacks for a non-pretentious, picnic blanket filled winery experience overlooking the lake. I was fortunate enough to have a tasting with Alyssa who was working the outdoor tasting bar that day. If you go, ask for her.

2825 Naramata Road, Naramata

Photo credit: JoieFarm

 

Gusto Ferrari

How does a woodfire pizza besides the Penticton Rec Centre sound? Random and awesome is the answer. Family owned and operated by a real life northern Italian family, with Chef/wife, Roberta in the kitchen, and husband, Flaminio, front-of-house and the kids helping to serve.

Italy is known as the land of fast cars and slow food. Opened in December 2018, The Ferrari family combines both those things with 48-hour fermented dough, sauces made from imported San Marzano tomatoes and the likes of Cannery Brewing, Truck 59 cider and a South Okanagan wine selection going hand-in-hand with the Italian stuff. Another random fact is that Flaminio used to sell pizza ovens in Italy, so it’s definitely safe to say pizza is their forte with around 15 pies on offer.

201 Okanagan Avenue E, Penticton

 

Creek & Gully Cider

This is what happens when two former Joy Road Catering alumni’s with farming backgrounds put their brains together and take a chance. The unfortunate reality of our food system means that there is little economic value in organic apples nowadays. So, first time small business owners, Kaleigh Jorgensen and Annalise Simonsen decided to turn their orchard’s apples into cider with their Slow Food thinking philosophies in mind. In their words, ‘We believe small actions have a big impact’.

With 4 releases in their portfolio, there is one thing in common: their ciders are made using just one ingredient – apples! Leaning towards drier styles with no added sugar or water, they let the cocktail of apples do the talking with natural fermentations and a bit of Okanagan sparkle.

You can meet the ladies, as well as Spooky the dog, in their beautiful ‘cider cathedral’, have a tasting in thrifted mis-matched glassware or sip on their natural cold pressed juices. Oh yeah, I should mention that this is a cidery where the apples come directly from their orchard(s) and you’re welcome to wander and ask questions. They’re down the road from Poplar Grove Cheese and Lock & Worth for a really diverse tour of ‘The Bench’.

1053 Poplar Grove Road, Penticton

Photo Credit: Creek & Gully Cider

 

Neighbourhood Brewing

Ok, this one is exciting.

The BC Ale Trail has been exploding with craft brewers popping up everywhere. Port Moody is home to some excellent breweries, including Yellow Dog. Now, the Yellow Dog family is expanding with a second location in Penticton. The head brewer from Yellow Dog relocated his family to the South Okanagan, meaning we’re seriously stepping up our brew game with Neighbourhood Brewing. Another cool thing to see is the support from their neighbours at Cannery, Bad Tattoo and Slack Water, to name a few. Although they haven’t been able to break ground on their building yet, they have recently launched their brand spanking new beers in cans. Good things come to those who wait and all.

187 Westminster Avenue, Penticton

Photo Credit: Neighbourhood Brewing

 

Tratto Pizzeria Napoletena

Locals have been patiently waiting for the opening of Tratto and the wait is nearly over. If I’m honest, the wait hasn’t been too hard because Chef Chris Royal (formerly with Vancouver’s Nook) has been running his Pie Face pop up at JoieFarm’s Picnique to give us a little sneak peek of all the delicious things to come. Expect a 50 odd seater restaurant in the heart of downtown Penticton, proper wood fired Neapolitan style pizza (poke the crust and it’ll be soft and springy and you get the puddle of sauce that forms at the point of each slice for your crust dipping needs) and other al forno goodness. They should hopefully be opened by Thanksgiving.

256 Westminster Avenue West, Penticton

 

Doing the right way is often the hardest way. Good people deserve good things, and when we support small, independent or family-run spots, your spending choices really does matter and make a difference. I closed the doors of my own family-run restaurant in 2016, but I always promised to do what I can to try and help. The Okanagan is this change that’s happening and that’s pretty bloody exciting to watch.

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