Okanagan Valley wineries
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.
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.
(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.
(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.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.
(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.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