Cypress Hills Winery – Wine’ding Down
Ah, the sunny days of summer are officially over, replaced by the cool warmth of Fall. If you’re like me, you didn’t even get through half of your summer bucket list! But don’t despair there’s still time to get a few of them checked off. Especially if one of them is visiting the Cypress Hills Winery west of Maple Creek. Though truth be told time is most definitely is running out for this season.
I’ve been to the winery many times myself, and have to say that a warm Fall afternoon is by far my favourite time to go. Not only do you get the place mostly to yourself, but there’s just a certain stillness in the Fall air, that’s not disturbed by the hustle, bustle, and rustle of summer.
Depending on the weather you can either sit inside cuddled up by the fireplace, or venture out onto the patio, my personal favourite place to sit. In fact I don’t think I’ve yet sat indoors once, even though many of the trips I’ve made have been on very windy days. Thankfully the way the patio is laid out, you can mostly avoid the wind by huddling up to the winery’s walls.
So why would you want to visit the winery? There are many reasons, but in talking to others like myself, here are the Top 5 Reasons to head to the Cypress Hills Winery:
- The Wine – Buy it or Drink it: Made onsite, while the winery has their own vineyards which they gladly invite you to walk through, they haven’t quite reached the right age of maturity for wine making. Because of that aside from their Chinook 2008, the vast majority of their current selections are fruit wines made from as many locally sourced products as possible. They include: Sour Cherry (made from organically grown Saskatchewan “Carmine Jewel” cherries); Saskatoon Berry (a traditional Saskatchewan favourite); Chokecherry(a lovely dessert wine); and my personal favourite,
- Rhubarb Wine (a locally grown dry white that’s still light and refreshing). They also have a series of honey based wines including one I haven’t yet tried: – Spring (a late harvest Sour Cherries mingled with local honey); Black Currant & Honey (also known as their Christmas Wine); and Mead (Just like in all the medieval books and movies – though it’s one that’s just a little too sweet for my liking).
- The Wine Tasting: There’s nothing like a wine tasting to make you feel self-important! A “swishy” sort of affair, you just belly up to the wine bar, and the winery’s fabulous staff lead the way. Here, you’ll get to try all of the above mentioned wines, and whether you “drink them” or “spit them” is up to you. Don’t worry if you haven’t got the first clue about what to do at a tasting – as mentioned the staff will lead the way, and you’ll be surprised at the subtle nuances that exist in the flavours that you’ll pick up. Flavours that you might otherwise never have even noticed.
- The Cheese: One of the main reasons my teenage daughter and I go to the winery is simply for their infamous Artisan Cheese Platter. Filled with yummy fresh bread, crackers, and cheeses I’ve never heard of that are to die for yummy, while the menu has a variety of sandwiches and salads on board, we’ve never yet ventured beyond the cheese platter. It’s the perfect complement to a glass of wine on the patio, or a warm cup of tea or coffee. In fact I’m drooling right now as I type this, just thinking about it.
- The Dessert: Next to their Cheese Plate and Wines I think the Winery’s biggest claim to fame is their desserts. While their dessert menu isn’t vast, the presentation and taste of their signature homemade Saskatoon Berry Pie is all you really need. They can even turn plain vanilla ice cream into a gastronomical treat – and I love the way they serve it in a coffee mug, drizzled with a Saskatoon Berry sauce.
- The Vineyard and the Grounds: I’ve never been to Italy or California to wander the vineyards there, but if I had to imagine the feel, I’m guessing it would be very similar. To wander amongst what will one day yield the grapes of some spectacular wines is enjoyable enough, but to just take in the peaceful and elegant surroundings of the Cypress Hills and to enjoy that bit of nature – especially in the Fall when the colours are spectacular, makes this definitely a great outing. The grounds have signage that explain the varities of grapes grown and the processes they use allowing you to have your own self-guided tour.
Whether you’re looking for a sweet romantic afternoon with that special someone, a place where you and the girls can head to for a “Girls Day Out,” or you’ve got a Bestie that you want to share some quiet one on one time with, the Cypress Hills Winery would be one of my Fall GoHere places of choice.
How to GoHere: Located just outside of Maple Creek, head into the town itself and make the turn that would take you up to Fort Walsh (Hwy 271), then simply follow the signs. It’s approximately 20 kms south west of Maple Creek and just as you think you must have missed it, the gates will roll into view. Or you can follow the map located right on their website. (www.cypresshillswinery.com/map.pdf)
Gotta Go?: One of our favourite places to go – not just for the wine but for the pretty bathrooms (see our Gallery of other favourite “Gotta Go” spots) – their eco-friendly use of little hand towels, and added fresh flowers make for a pleasant and elegant experience.
Good to Know:
- The Winery is open Tuesday to Saturday 10:30-5:00pm, and Sundays noon-5:00pm only until SEPTEMBER 30th, and even then with only “Partial” food service during the weekdays (I believe this means the Cheese Platter is available!), and “Full” food service during the weekends.
- From October 1st – November 30th the winery is open on Saturdays from 10:30-4:30pm by appointment only, and without any Food Service available whatsoever.
- Spring starts nice and early in the Hills and if you missed them in 2012 – you can catch them again in May of 2013.
- If the “locally grown” aspect is one that appeals to you, you’ll be pleased to note that not only do they source much of their fruit from as close to home as possible, they also grow many of the fixings for their salads right on the grounds.