Old Vines Restaurant is all about connections. Overlooking vineyards and farms on the slopes above BC’s Lake Okanagan, it is a place that proudly nurtures the links between the land, the producers, the chefs and their guests.
By Lawrence Herzog
“Local and regional cuisine is a way of life here,” explains Roger Sleiman, culinary director and winery chef. “It’s not a fad, it’s just what we do.”
Guests get to enjoy the bounty of nearby fields and pastures from a spectacular 60-seat wraparound vineyard-side patio at Quails’ Gate winery in West Kelowna. It’s a glorious place for long leisurely sunset dinners and al fresco bistro lunches, paired with the winery’s renowned ultra premium VQA Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
“We support our local producers first,” Sleiman says. “It just makes sense: less transport, and the integrity of the product isn’t compromised. We either pick up our ingredients right at the farms, or they deliver them the same day. We get the cream of the crop, and it’s just incredible.”
Now into his eighth year at Old Vines, Sleiman has helped grow the restaurant into an all-seasons culinary destination by building relationships and focusing on details that matter. Every winter, he meets with his farmers to go over seed catalogues and look at what worked and what didn’t.
“I came here after 12 years in Whistler and time in Ottawa, and I really appreciate the community of producers and range of excellent product.” It’s a range that extends year-round now, and it helps to drive the seasonally-focused menus at Old Vines. When abundance and selection peak in the summer and autumn, the kitchen team finds inspiration in the larders stacked high with local, seasonal bounty.
“When the coolers are overflowing, the question becomes, ‘Oh gosh, what do I make today?’” he says. “It’s invigorating and satisfying.”
Top tips to make connections
#1 Invest time to build face-to-face relationships with local growers. Being loyal to your best artisanal producers helps ensure supply and consistent high quality.
#2 Create food that reflects your region. Think seasonal, think fresh, think local excellence.
#3 Take best advantage of your location. Give guests expansive views and great food and wine, and they’ll tell their friends – and come back for more.
#4 Build menus bursting with regional ingredients for unsurpassed wine and food pairings. Bring out the best in your kitchen matched with the best in the cellars.