Okana­gan Val­ley winer­ies

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The abun­dance of sun­shine, fer­tile soil and cool win­ters in the Okana­gan Val­ley – on the western edge of the Rock­ies – have al­lowed the lo­cal wine in­dus­try to thrive. A ma­jor­ity of the more than 120 winer­ies are close to Hwy 97, which makes tast­ing a breeze.

TOURS

Numer­ous com­pa­nies al­low you to do the sip­ping while they do the driv­ing:

Club Wine Tours

(club­wine­tours. com) The ‘sig­na­ture’ tour in­cludes four winer­ies and lunch in a vine­yard.

Dis­tinctly Kelowna Tours

(dis­tinct­lykelow­na­tours.ca) Of­fers win­ery tours by val­ley re­gion; many in­clude stops for lunch.

VISIT­ING THE WINER­IES

Kelowna and the re­gion in the val­ley’s north are known for whites, such as Pinot Gri­gio. South, near Pen­tic­ton and Oliver, reds are the stars, es­pe­cially Mer­lot. Tast­ings at those winer­ies open to vis­i­tors vary a lot. Some places have just a cou­ple of wines on of­fer; oth­ers have dozens of vin­tages. Some tast­ing rooms are glo­ri­fied sales ar­eas; oth­ers have mag­nif­i­cent views of vine­yards and lakes. Some charge; oth­ers are free. Among the dozens of op­tions, the fol­low­ing (listed

north to south) are high­lights. Sum­mer­hill Pyra­mid and Cedar Creek Es­tate are south of Kelowna along the lake’s east shore. The rest of the winer­ies can be reached via Hwy 97.

Sand­hill Wines

(sand­hill­wines.ca) For­merly called Calona Vine­yards, Sand­hill Wines was the Okana­gan’s first win­ery, in 1932. Its strik­ing tast­ing room is an at­mo­spheric spot to try its ever-pop­u­lar, melon-note Pinot Blanc.

Sum­mer­hill Pyra­mid Win­ery

(sum­mer­hill.bc.ca) One of the area’s most colour­ful winer­ies com­bines a tra­di­tional tast­ing room with a huge pyra­mid where the wines are aged in bar­rels. The win­ery’s Sun­set Or­ganic Bistro of­fers lo­cally sourced dishes.

Cedar Creek Es­tate Win­ery

(cedar­creek.bc.ca) Known for ex­cel­lent tours, its Ries­ling and its Ehren­felser, a re­fresh­ing fruity white wine. Its Vine­yard Ter­race has cap­ti­vat­ing views.

Mission Hill Fam­ily Es­tate

(mis­sion­hill­win­ery.com) As if it were a Tuscan hill town, this win­ery’s ar­chi­tec­ture wows. Go for a taste of one of the blended reds (try the Bordeaux) or the ex­cel­lent Syrah. Ter­race is one of the val­ley’s best restau­rants and sources fine foods lo­cally; book ahead.

Hester Creek

(hes­ter­creek.com) Has a sweep­ing lo­ca­tion, a great new tast­ing room and is known for its reds, es­pe­cially its richly fla­vored Caber­net Franc. Ter­ra­fina res­tau­rant has a Med ac­cent.

In­niskillin

(in­niskillin.com) BC’s first pro­ducer of Zin­fan­del is also home to the elixirs known as ice wines, which are har­vested when the grapes are frozen on the vine; go for the golden-hued Ries­ling.

Road 13

(road­13vine­yards.com) Very drink­able reds (Pinot Noir) and whites (Chenin Blanc) win plau­dits at this win­ery. The no-frills vibe ex­tends to its pic­nic ta­bles with gor­geous views.

Bur­row­ing Owl Es­tate Win­ery

(bur­rowingowl­wine.ca) Or­ganic farm tech­niques go into wines such as the Syrah. Other award-win­ners in­clude the Caber­net Franc and Mer­itage. The Sonora Room res­tau­rant is ex­cel­lent.

LaStella Win­ery

(lastella.ca) A beau­ti­ful vi­sion of Italy rises up near Osoy­oos Lake. Ter­ra­cotta roof tiles and floors and gran­ite touches com­bine for one of the val­ley’s most beau­ti­ful winer­ies. The Caber­net Sauvi­gnon–based Maestoso is highly re­garded.

Sum­mer­hill Pyra­mid Win­ery over­looks Okana­gan Lake

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP RIGHT Hester Creek’s vines; Mission Hills’ strik­ing win­ery; cel­lars at Mission Hill; Ocu­lus is made mainly from Mer­lot grapes

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