There’s a fab place in Western Canada. It’s the Okanagan Wine Region in British Colombia.
Set on stunning Lake Okanagan, travelers in search of great wine can make a day trip or even a weekender from Kelowna. It’s also a great place to spend a week road tripping around to the various estates and enjoying the numerous variety of wine tasting options.
What started in the 90’s with only a little more than a dozen wineries has blossomed into more than 270 wineries, from the boutique to the mega-vintners.
It’s the perfect time to head to the Okanagan Valley, the sun is out, and the exchange rate is great!
Here’s a list of estates, wineries and vineyards to drop in and enjoy. Cheers!
1. Dirty Laundry Vineyard
Don’t let the name fool you. Launched in 2005, this Summerland winery on Bottleneck Drive has award winning wines, a fun tasting area amidst a highly branded Dirty Laundry boutique, where visitors can pick up everything from t-shirts to wine stoppers.
Their most awarded wine is Say Yes ($19.95 CAD) Pinot Gris, with pear, honey, peach and citrus tones. Also notable is their Gewürztraminer, called Woo Woo Vines Gewurz (19.95 CAD).
Don’t Miss: Grab a seat on their patio with views to die for. Join their Bordello Wine Club and select a membership level from Peek-a-boo, Boudoir or Madam, with perks and gifts such as wine glasses that come with each wine club order.
2. Therapy Vineyards and Guest House
What’s not to love about heading to an Okanagan vineyard, and then actually getting to stay on said vineyard for a day, a week, or longer?
At Therapy Vineyards at the end of the Naramata Bench, you can get the right amount of chill time at their beautifully designed guesthouse on property. Book just a room, or the entire place (22 guests). Then, head over to their tasting room aka the Farmacy for a prescription of one of their award winning wines.
Don’t Miss: Winners of the Best of Varietal Okanagan Wine Festival 2015– Sauvignon Blanc ($18.99 CAD) (gold medal) and their 2015 Pinot Gris ($17.99 CAD)) (silver medal).
3. Hillside Winery and Bistro
Founded in 1984 by a Czech woman, who had a keen insight to turn an apricot orchard into a vineyard, Hillside has grown into a world class winery, and is led by winemaker, Kathy Malone, one of just a handful of female vintners in the valley.
Hillside Winery was the first vineyard in the valley. It’s west-facing locale on the Namarata Bench, provides an optimal environment for their fruit. Long sunny days help keep heat in the soil, which equates to grapes that do not need as much tannin to ripen.
Don’t Miss: Muscat Ottonel ($25.00 CAD), and the Gewürztraminer ($20.00 CAD) with notes of honeysuckle and passion fruit. Both sell out each year.
4. Mission Hill Estate Winery
If ever one has had the chance to visit Napa Valley and the Mondavi Wine Estate, then there will be an immediate visual association to Mission Hill Estate Winery. In fact, Mr. Mondavi, and Anthony von Mandl, the owner of Mission Hill, had been friends long before Monday’s passing, and both shared a similar architectural aesthetics.
Setting down roots in the region in 1981, made Mission Hill the 5th winery of the area. Whether or not you are wine tasting, a visit to this estate is nothing short of dazzling. More than 7,000 visitors a day, and 15,000 guests each weekend come just to see the grounds alone.
Don’t Miss: Touring around the estate to spy the architecture, sculptures, and the jaw-dropping Murano glass chandelier that came with a chandelier builder from Murano, Italy to install it. Wine tasting: The single-vineyard Syrah 2010 ($60.00 CAD) and the Oculus 2011 hand harvested ($125.00 CAD).
5. Volcanic Hills Estate Winery
Not many wineries can say they sit on the side of a 60 million year old dormant volcano, but Volcanic Hills Estate Winery certainly can. What this means is wow-views of Okanagan Lake.
It all started with a wine maker from Punjab, India, Mehtab Gidda, who came to Canada to chase a dream of owning a winery in the valley. Together with his son and daughter, the family turned former apple farming to owning 80 acres of grapes and producing some of the finest wines in the valley.
Don’t Miss: Their Pinot Noir ($17.39 CAD) and their National Wine Awards of Canada 2015 winning Riesling Ice Wine ($30.39 CAD). During the summer months, take in the view at Blue Saffron Bistro onsite.
6. St Hubertus & Oak Bay Family Estate Winery
The Gebert family took over the original Hughes Vineyard in the 80’s, which was among the first Okanagan grape plantings in 1928. Turning to the old world of vintners past and the spirit of St Hubertus & Oak Bay Family Estate Winery of today, means strong family ties mixed with healthy sustainable vineyard ideals—using biodiversity, soil revitalization and integrated pest management. Their end goal, producing great wines.
Don’t Miss: Their Pinot Blanc ($15.75 CAD), which is the first BC wine to be served on Cathay Pacific Airways, and their Marcel Foch ($22.00 CAD) a French/American hybrid with a low histamine level.
7. Summer Hill Pyramid Winery
Whether it is the perfect location on the lake, or the pyramid, which guests pass by when entering the parking area of the winery, or the wine itself, there is a Zen quality about this estate of Summer Hill Pyramid Winery.
Former New York developer, Stephen Cipes, entered the wine growing business in the mid-80’s, finding the Okanagan valley ideal to grow “happy grapes”, and with a clear vision of utilizing biodynamic farming to produce his fruit.
Today, Cipes’ sons, Ezra and Gabe help navigate their thriving and certified organic business of predominantly sparkling wines and creating a regional identity in doing so.
Don’t Miss: The pyramid, built out of an experiment to see if alignment and precision can help make great wines, which Cipes’ believes in a definite and profound effect on liquids placed in sacred geometry. Wine tasting: Cipes Ariel 1998 ($77.00 CAD) and the traditional Cuvee 1996 ($88.00 CAD).
8. Winter Okanagan Wine Festival
A wonderful way to recap a wine-tasting adventure around the Okanagan Wine Region is to keep the party going at the annual (January) Winter Okanagan Wine Festival at Sun Peaks Village.
Wine taste through 30 wineries peppered throughout the village and shops, offering over a hundred different types of vintages to try. Several events parlay the weekend event into over ride with Sun Peaks Wine Crawl, Starbucks Sparkling Brunch, Rocky Mountain Wine and Chocolate Tasting, Taste Sun Peaks, and the Big Varietal Showdown, as just a few of the events offered.
Don’t Miss: Church and State, Tantalus, Culminate, Gehringer Brothers, and Okanagan Crush Pad Wineries to try.
For more information and Okanagan Winery road trip ideas: BC Wines