The beautiful dry summer and early Fall are expected to lead a strong grape harvest and record setting attendance at this years 26th Okanagan Fall Wine Festival presented by HSBC Bank Canada from September 28th through October 8.

Leo Gebert, proprietor at St. Hubertus Estate Winery in Kelowna states “We are very pleased with the quality of the grapes this year. Our harvest has already started and we are looking forward to welcoming wine tourists from around the world during this year’s Fall Wine Festival.” At Wild Goose Vineyards in Okanagan Falls, winemaker Hagen Kruger is looking forward to another strong year for his vineyards. “Last year our harvest was down slightly but the hot weather of this summer will bring our yield’s back up and we look forward to a sunny September to ensure we achieve the highest quality grapes.”

Judging from advance ticket sales, expectations are high that record attendance will once again be achieved. For the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, there are over 165 events between September 28th and October 8, 2006 throughout Okanagan Wine Country.

As an indication of strong advance sales, the WestJet Wine Tasting in Kelowna on Saturday September 30 has already sold out. But there are many events available that evening and on the opening weekend for which tickets can still be purchased.

The spectrum of events for the 10 day Fall Wine Festival – one of the Top100 Events in North America – offers something for every wine tourist. Consumers can enjoy wine tastings, grape stomps, seminars, music and arts all paired with the world class wines of the Okanagan.

Some highlights of the opening weekend of the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival presented by HSBC Bank Canada include:

Thursday September 28 – Sip and Savour To Solve The Clues presented by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and Sysco HRI Foods. A fun evening of sipping wines on a blind basis and tasting cheeses from across Canada all blended with a live blues band. Hosted at the Blue Gator in Kelowna from 7pm until the dancing stops! tickets: 250.860.1470

Friday September 29 – The Masters of Food and Wine – Cooking with Terasen Gas at the Laurel Packinghouse. An evening of fine wine and fabulous cuisine. Wine and Food stations will be located within the building. Local restaurants and wineries will participate in this event that will allow you to sample some of the finest food that can be paired with the world renowned wines of the Okanagan. tickets: 250.860.1470

Friday September 29 – Head over to an Okanagan tradition at the Peoples Choice Awards with over 30 wineries in attendance. Hosted by the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna 7:30pm -10:30pm. tickets: 250.860.6060

Saturday September 30 – Going Once, Going Twice! Enjoy fine wines and food together with a live auction of wines all in the name of fundraising for the Okanagan College wine program. Hosted by the Penticton Ramada Inn 6pm-10pm. tickets: 250.492.8926

Saturday September 30 – Big Reds and Big Cheese – a unique wine education seminar that demonstrates how big varietal red wines are paired with the best of Canadian dairy cheeses. Hosted by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society from 1:30pm-3:30 pm at Manteo Resort. tickets: 250.860.1470

Saturday September 30 Wine and Cheese From The Ground Up! The Okanagan Wine Festivals is pleased to present an educational afternoon hosted by Rod and Marjorie King from Naramata and the Dairy Farmers of Canada. You will be introduced to a number of wines from the Valley. Learn how grapes are grown so that they are at their peak before being turned into some of the world’s best wine. The seminar provides the most important lesson of all – drinking wine is not stuffy, it’s fun and part of our culture in the Okanagan. tickets: 250.860.1470

Further press releases on other key events will be sent out in the coming weeks and for more information on the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival or any of the Okanagan Wine Festivals presented by HSBC Bank Canada, go to www.thewinefestivals.com