Outstanding Wineries in the Okanagan – Where you need to go!

Categories: Canadian Travel

We are fortunate to have one of the fastest growing, award winning wine regions in the world right in our back yard and we would like to share the highlights of it with you.

Not only will you discover some of the most tantalizing wines you have ever tried but you get to meander through some of the most beautiful lake districts as well as stunning mountain vistas and even desert areas. Clearly the diverse terrains are what make this region perfect for so many varieties of grapes. Please enjoy our recommendations.

Not only will you discover some of the most tantalizing wines you have ever tried but you get to meander through some of the most beautiful lake districts as well as stunning mountain vistas and even desert areas. Clearly the diverse terrains are what make this region perfect for so many varieties of grapes. Please enjoy our recommendations.

If you start in the South of the Okanagan we suggest you visit a unique winery, Nk’Mip Cellars (pronounced in-ka-meep), North America’s first aboriginal owned and operated winery. Overlooking the shores of Osoyoos Lake in the Okanagan Valley, the winery sits on natural desert land surrounded by the stunning contrast of sagebrush and vineyards. They bottle Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Rosé, Chardonnay & Pinot Blanc. They won the 2016 Intervin, Canadian Winery of the Year award. As a break between tastings you can also enjoy lunch on the patio or visit their onsite museum.

Conveniently just up the road you need to visit Moon Curser Vineyards, a small, family owned winery in Osoyoos, a South Okanagan border town known for its hot summers, beautiful lakes and vineyards. The name pays tribute to the gold smuggling history of Osoyoos. The winery is known for growing unusual varieties such as Tannat, Dolcetto, Touriga Nacional, Arneis, Marsanne and Roussanne to name a few and one of the first to grow Carménère outside of Chile. These varieties have not been a part of history of the South Okanagan and will not be found in most other Okanagan vineyards. The wines have brought home many a medal, including the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards’ Trophy for Best Canadian Red for the 2009 Border Vines.

Then on to something entirely unique! Silver Sage Winery is the Mixologist of wines. Wines are produced from four varieties of premium grapes: Pinot Blanc, Merlot, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Noir. But they also blend these with fresh Okanagan fruits, including blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, and apricots. Their Gewürztraminer comes with either hints of peach or sage (which is mind blowing with turkey dinner), their Pinot Blanc has characteristics of Granny Smith Apple, and their Pinot Noir has aroma of wild Cherry. They are famous for their icewines though, with traditional grapes but also fruit wines like blueberry, raspberry or blackberry, however their most outstanding offer is the Flame; a unique aperitif wine, combining sweet, hot, and spicy in its blend of late-harvest Gewurztraminer, peaches, apricots, and PEPPERS! You will never have had anything like it and you will bring a bottle home.

On to Stoneboat Vineyards, a smaller family owned vineyard that specialized in Pinots. Their Pinots thrive in the rocky, calcareous soils of our three vineyards; these characteristics are unique to a tiny area on the Black Sage Bench. Similar soils are found in Burgundy, France’s famed Pinot region. Though they tend to make farming more difficult, the stones are very important to the vineyards and wines. The stones also retain the heat of the day and radiate it towards the plants during the night- much like hot water bottles. This is especially important during the fall in the desert climate, which involves particularly warm days and cool nights.

Now we are in for some fun. Visit Dirty Laundry – no not to work, it’s the Okanagan’s Dirty Little Secret of wines. In the late 1800’s the gentlemen that came to get their laundry cleaned could also enjoy a libation and the company of a lady friend. It’s such a unique spot, with a rich blend of history, amazing valley views, a cool theme & fabulous wines. The entire décor of lingerie hanging on clothes lines with outstanding wine shop and accessories to the presentation of the wine tasting is not just tasty but a lot of fun with a great explanation to be had of the history of the names of each wine. Sip their new red Dangerously Liaison while on the patio.

Carrying on now to the classy Township 7 and you will find old world inspired, Artisan winemaking. Handcrafted with a minimalist philosophy. After you enjoy a wine tasting, relax with a vineyard side picnic, or one of many events including arts, yoga, plays, music and culinary festivals! They are a “working winery” as they enjoy sharing with others the art and science of blending with their winemaker. You might be fortunate enough to be able to share in one of the harvests if you are there at the right time.

Mission Hill is world renowned for its award-winning wines, stunning setting and Terrace restaurant. Majestic mountains, scenic lakes and lush orchards encase the winery’s dramatic architecture and culminate in a setting that celebrates wine, food and the arts. In addition to great wines they offer summer long table dinners, summer concerts, viticultural explorations, and culinary pairing tours with the resident chef. There is a wine for everyone here as they gather grapes from five different Okanagan regions to ensure the best growing conditions; Mission Hill Road Vineyard – West Kelowna, Lakeshore Vineyard – East Kelowna, Naramata Ranch Vineyard – Naramata Bench, Black Sage Bench Vineyard – Southeast Oliver & Osoyoos Vineyard – East & West Osoyoos.

You can not miss Quail’s Gate. As one of Canada’s foremost family-owned estate wineries, they’ve helped shape the development of the wine industry for over six decades, focusing on making the Okanagan Valley a true culinary destination. Quails’ Gate Winery has built its reputation on three pillars: providing consistent high-quality wines, delivering an exceptional visitor experience and ensuring excellence in customer service. Additionally, they have a philosophy of doing more with less and ensuring they are good stewards of the community. It’s one of the reasons why they maintain a tradition of low-impact, sustainable viticulture practices. Following a tradition of awards their 2014 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay won a 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC Wine, their Chardonnay won a silver medal and the Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay won bronze at the prestigious Chardonnay Du Monde competition in France this year. For something unusual try their Old Vine Foch. Have lunch or dinner lake front for a complete experience.

Just in case you need a break from wine for just a little bit, visit the very fun Bottega Craft Cidery. Bottega is a working alpaca farm, apple orchard and cidery set against the peaceful backdrop of South East Kelowna. Or visit the BC Tree Fruit Cider Company. Find out how they get apples from the orchard to your glass with all the flavour nature intended. The Cidery is located inside the BC Tree Fruits retail marketplace where you can sample and purchase Broken Ladder Cider as well as many other BC grown fresh fruits/products including apples, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots, prune plums and blueberries depending what is in season.

One more notable vineyard among so many in Kelowna would be the Calona Vineyards. Established in 1932, Calona Vineyards has the distinction of being BC’s original winery. The Okanagan Valley offers prime growing conditions, especially for Calona’s vineyards in the Southern Valley of BC where the hot, sunny climate produces the finest grapes. Calona Vineyard Artists Series tells a story that begins on the label. It’s about award-winning wines and wonderful art brought together to reflect each other’s brilliance. Each painting is carefully selected for the distinct way that it evokes the unique flavour of the wine. It’s an exhibition of individual taste and a showcase for the wines of Calona Vineyards. They grow the following varietals: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay and bottle for Wayne Gretzky wine (you may know him as number 99) and Peller.

Now on to the Lake Country where there are several outstanding wineries, especially if you enjoy white wines, but you can not miss Gray Monk and if possible make sure you stay for a meal on their patio. The winery’s name, Gray Monk, is the English translation of the Austrian name for Pinot Gris, a varietal sourced from the Alsace, first planted in Canada by the Heiss family in the Gray Monk home vineyard in 1976. Perched above Okanagan Lake with stunning panoramic views of mountains, vineyards and the lake, Gray Monk Estate Winery offers guests a true taste, or sip, of the Okanagan lifestyle. The Heiss family is proud to remain as British Columbia’s oldest family owned and operated winery, now with over 75 acres of vineyards. Gray Monk has helping to shape the “BC Wine World” enjoyed today. Their whites are absolutely outstanding but if you want to try something different make sure to get a bottle of their Meritage. Sorry there are so many awards I can’t begin to list them.

We hope this has been helpful in guiding you through this extensive wine region that really deserves multiple visits. In addition to wine tasting this region has an unending variety of water sports available, many diverse levels of hiking opportunities and if you take our tour through the Okanagan you will stay one night in a house boat – a fantastic and unique experience!

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