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Sip, swirl and fly: Wine tastings take flight at the airport

TORONTO - For a wine lover stuck at an airport, a glass of chilled Chardonnay or mellow Merlot could be just the ticket to help pass the time.

TORONTO - For a wine lover stuck at an airport, a glass of chilled Chardonnay or mellow Merlot could be just the ticket to help pass the time.

At Kelowna International Airport, that might happen at 9 or 10 a.m., when local wineries occasionally offer tastings in the departures area at the Okanagan Estate Wine Cellar. It's a time when the terminal is often busy with Toronto-bound flights — and when the wine may taste especially bracing to passengers who have just finished their breakfast.

"Because it's in the morning a lot of people say 'It's too early for me,'" says store salesperson Rosie Drummond, adding that the tastings are popular nonetheless.

The Wine Cellar outlet sells only B.C. wines, almost all from the Okanagan Valley, which extends north and south from Kelowna. Some of the offerings are hard — if not impossible — to buy in other parts of the country.

"A lot of the Ontario customers say 'We can't get this in Ontario,'" says Drummond.

Anyone flying within Canada is allowed to bring as carry-on up to 12 bottles purchased at the store if they have no other carry-on baggage, or six bottles along with one carry-on item.

Travellers wondering whether their favourite domestic Riesling or Cabernet is available at the Canadian airport they're flying out of can check the Airports Wine Guide compiled by Cheapflights.ca (www.cheapflights.ca/promos/airport-wine-guide). It focuses mainly on a handful of airports in grape-growing provinces, as well as a few border U.S. airports.

At Vancouver International Airport, the Koho Restaurant & Bar and Koho Express Bar are the places to go for B.C. wines from producers including Sandhill, See Ya Later Ranch and Red Rooster. There are also plenty of domestic wines for sale at the airport's West Coast Liquor Store.

Victoria International Airport's White Spot Restaurant offers wines from B.C. producers including Sumac Ridge, Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery and Nk'Mip Cellars, the wine guide says. Once past the security check, you can also try vino from Mission Hill and others at the Airside Lounge.

Passengers at Toronto Pearson International Airport can find Niagara Peninsula wines such as Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs and Mike Weir Estate at various bars and restaurants.

And at the London, Ont., International Airport, a thirsty traveller can ask for Pelee Island wine — from Canada's southernmost grape-growing region — at the Bar Lounge.

The wine guide also has tips for Canadians venturing across the border to nearby U.S. airports:

— Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: Washington state wines to look for include Whitman Cellars, Chandler Reach and Saviah Cellars.

— Burlington (Vt.) International Airport: Consider local wine from Shelburne Vineyard at the restaurant One Flight Up.

— Buffalo Niagara International Airport: Check out the airport's gallery exhibit "Sip, Swirl, Savor the Experience," which presents information on Chautauqua and Niagara wineries.

 
 
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