These BC delicacies taste better than any prawn you’ve ever eaten…they should…they cost an astounding $18 a pound.

A sold-out crowd of about 100 wined on 10 Okanagan wineries’ takes on Sauvignon Blanc and dined on three famous local chefs’ versions of spot prawns on a heritage paddle wheeler. I have a wonderfully scribbly, tomato-stained notepad to show for it and a spot or two of my own on my white blouse. OK by me. It was just the right number of people to fill the beautifully-restored SS Sicamous to create a convivial buzz of talk and laughter and the feeling that this was the perfect place to be on a Sunday afternoon in Penticton.

The inaugural Wine Party (Jennifer Schell and Terry Meyer-Stone) spotlight event was designed to focus on a local sampling of a single varietal paired with the BC shellfish that has risen to superstardom in the seafood world. Spot prawns are such a big deal in the culinary world that it’s gotten to the point where it’s very hard to part fisherman from some of their catch before it heads overseas to lucrative markets and if you do, the prices are higher than for lobster. This year’s catch is 50 per cent more than last year’s, partly because Asia’s farm-raised tiger prawn industry has been decimated by a disease.

The S.S. Sicamous almost stole the show from the spot prawns, Sauv Blanc and the food and wine lovers, wine critiques and wine industry guests at the event.

What’s the big deal about spot prawns? The little critters are large, sweet, firmly fleshed and are harvested sustainably for about 80 days every spring off BC’s coast in the inside waters of  Vancouver Island.

The Spotlight on Sauvignon Blanc and Spot Prawn Festival chefs worked some magic with those already tasty crustaceans.

Chef Mark Ashton of Lake Breeze’s The Patio created a lime creole cream blackened spot prawn that was my favourite. It was the cream…


Chef John Burke of Penticton’s Front Street Brasserie did his version on a Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. Here is where my scribbles got the best of me…ingredients included spot prawn, lime, pickled carrot, mint and cilantro and pickled green chili peppers. Apologies Chef Burke if I’ve left anything out. These had a delicious and refreshing hit of lime and were unbelievably tasty.
Chef Ross Derrick of The Table at Codfathers Market in Kelowna got his spot prawns from the market’s fishmonger, Jon. He served his ceviche-style and added in albacore tuna to the spot prawn mix with a super fresh tasting pineapple, lemon and lime juice with a hint of chili and garlic with a tomato pico sauce and some spicy cream fraiche. Yum. This is where it got a bit messy…

I now get what the big deal is about spot prawns. A doggie bag would have been an idea…

“Our Wine Party brand is about education as well as fun and this type of event allows people to experience a range of styles produced here in the Okanagan,” says Jennifer Schell. We are spotlighting the local version of the varietal — many wine drinkers immediately think of New Zealand when they think of Sauv Blanc — so we are aiming to redirect their palates here.”

Fairview Cellars, located at the north end of the Benches of the Golden Mile, offered a thoroughly enjoyable Sauv Blanc.

Lovely glasses of summer-in-a-glass Sauv Blanc was poured by these fine wineries:

“Can you believe this venue?,” says Jennifer. “I immediately fell in love and couldn’t believe I hadn’t been on it before. That will not be the last Wine Party event on the SS Sicamous.”

SS Sicamous was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1914 and is a landmark at the northwest entry to Penticton on Highway 97.
The event took place largely in the Ladies Saloon which features a large mirror and electric lights from the early 1900s. The luxury class passenger vessel used to transport passengers and cargo to remote communities along the shores of Okanagan Lake.
I snuck away from the crowd to savour a glass of Lake Breeze Sauv Blanc in this lovely part of the vessel.  The ship is now operated by the SS Sicamous Marine Heritage Society, with help from the City of Penticton.



We’ve come a long way baby. I wonder what the crew of the ship would make of the wine and spot prawn party and some of its interesting guests?


Renée Stewart (Operations & Sales Manager) and her mom, Jeannine Fradelizio are pictured here with Jeannine’s cool invention, Wine Glass Writer. These fantastic pens helped me keep track of my wine glass throughout the event.  Beats a wine charm. Who can ever remember which charm you had?