When we arrived at the Villa at Hester Creek, south of Oliver, the sun was sinking fast, as it tends to do in late March. The villas had fallen into shadow.
But minutes after we were met by innkeeper Melissa McLaughlin and handed a frosty bottle of the 2012 White Character blend, we took in the view from our patio – and wow.
Standing on the walls of the Okanagan Valley, we could see north to Oliver and beyond, east across the valley to Mount Baldy, and south past Osoyoos to the United States. We felt on top of the province.
The Villa at Hester Creek is discreetly perched on a hill above and behind the tasting room, which is uphill from the restaurant, Terrafina.
The Terrafina building had housed the original Hester Creek tasting room the last time we were here in 2006. From our patio, we could look down at the whole property and see all the comings and goings of tourists and staff, which was unexpected entertainment for this pair of city folk.
We watched as the vineyard crew did their thing. The vines were getting ready to break bud, and with them the promise of another excellent vintage, thanks to the hard work of these vine stylists .
Immediately, we opened the bottle of Hester Creek Character and enjoyed it on the patio. Clean, fresh and refreshing after a long day of traveling.
The bed was as big as it looks, but firmer than it appears. It’s set at perfect angles to the TV and the French doors. We couldn’t wait to wake up to the view.
The cozy chairs next to the silent fire place provided a comfy place to catch up on the Red Wings game before our date at Terrafina restaurant.
Washing in the beautifully-tiled bathroom felt a little like checking into a spa. Yes, we tried out the tub, but later. After dinner.
Our Oliverian friends Vicki and Ed Huffman joined us for dinner, but not before they checked out our digs. Ed was especially curious to see the hills he’d traversed on mini-bikes when he was a teenager back in the 1970s.
Inside, the dining room is airy and intimate, with a warm, country castle feel. I’d love to be there on a warm evening with the door open to the patio.
In the kitchen, I caught chef Natasha Schooten fishing around in the wood-fired pizza oven. Hester Creek has a Wednesday Pizza Perfection special of two pizzas for $28, and I was surprised to hear how many people drive up their long hill to take out pizzas.
Because it was Pasta Night, I ordered the beef stroganoff special – and it was. Big, meaty slices of tender beef on a bed of equally wide homemade noodles, topped with Grana Padano Parmesan cheese and French beans, and dressed with the most balanced amount of sauce I’d ever seen in a stroganoff. Very rich and flavorful, I’ve never had it quite like that before. Perfect with the 2011 Reserve Cabernet Franc we ordered.
Bill’s duck confit was also delicious. The pasta was dressed with a carbonara sauce with pancetta, shallot, garlic and an egg liaison blended with whipping cream and Parmasan cheese and finished with truffle oil. Yum!
The next morning we woke at 9am to a knock on the door. Two lovely ladies delivered our breakfast! French toast in a bowel, fresh fruit and creme fraiche, juicy bacon, orange juice and coffee. We gobbled it down as we watched the valley fill with light.
Fortified, we mosied into the Villa at Hester Creek room where Sarah Lefebvre poured the 2012 Pinot Gris, 2012 Chardonnay, 2012 Rosé, and the 2011 Reserve Cabernet Franc. Not a bad start to the day.
Unfortunately, their famous trebbiano was not available yet for tasting, nor purchase, nor was the pinot gris and rosé for sale. We’d have to wait until April, Sarah said. So, we took a bottle of the cabernet franc, and chardonnay – which was perfect with our salmon dinner the other night – and left Hester Creek with a promise to return.
Thanks for having us!