When you think of combining wine and vacation (because who wouldn't?), there's no doubt that Napa Valley comes to mind first. But BC's premier wine region, and Canada's second, is well worth a visit. Vineyards can be found all along the stunning Lake Okanagan and the wineries on offer are both diverse and something special. Not only this, but the Okanagan is just four to five hours drive from Vancouver. And the continental climate means that summer there gets hot hot hot. So, why bother splashing out on a ticket to Miami or Hawaii when the Okanagan Valley has so much to offer?
If you still need proof then read on to explore the region's 8 best wineries. Bring some friends and prepare to live (and drink) like royalty.
Famed for their delicate Chardonnay and exceptional view, Quails' Gate is a popular stop on winery tours for those travelling in the Kelowna area. Quails' Gate is focused on delivering consistently high-quality wines, and each bottle is carefully nurtured to perfection. VIVA's recommendations are the Chardonnay or the luxuriously sweet Riesling Icewine.Elephant Island
is one of the original five wineries on the Naramata Bench, an association of award-winning wineries. The 6,000 case winery is full of delicious, and unconventional, treats - all of which can be enjoyed in its tree-shaded orchard. A must-try is the Black Currant Wine, a sweet offering packed with berry and pomegranate flavours.
With over 30 years of history, Sumac Ridge is the oldest and most established winery in Summerland. Enjoy a juicy piece of steak with their famous Cabernet Merlot, or appreciate the open skies of the Okanagan from their sun deck while nursing a glass of their crisp Pinot Grigio.Dirty Laundry Vineyard
is a fun and friendly winery, but don't let the quirkiness put you off. Their critically acclaimed wines are the real deal. To truly get a taste of Summerland, try their award-winning Say Yes Pinot Gris, which is vibrantly fresh with nectarines, peaches, and pears. Make sure you visit on a Friday so you don't miss their lobster lunches.
If you have to choose only one winery to visit, choose Mission Hill . Called the "Versailles of the Valley" by the New York Times , Mission Hill is a family-owned winery that is internationally known for its award-winning wines, breathtaking views, mouthwatering food, and beautiful architecture. From their entry-level "Five Vineyards" collection to their top-tier "Legacy" line, any of their wines is bound to become your next favourite.
Describing themselves as a "modern artisan farm winery driven by passionate eco-foodies", Meadow Vista allows you to enjoy fine wine while doing your part to support the environment. Prepare for the winter with their aromatic and spicy Mabon, or bring home the delightfully fruity Joy to prepare for an end-of-summer barbecue. Their artisan bistro is also worth a visit, with their expertly prepared cheese and cured meats.
The winery's iconic red shoe label originates from an amusing anedcote , and this playful approach to wine-making is something that reverberates in each bottle or can (yes, can!) of The View's wines. Aside from their unique canned Bling! sparkling wine, The View's aromatic and floral award-winning Gewürztraminer 2014 is also a must-try. As one of the Kelowna Fab Five wineries , The View is a highly popular stop for wine tours.
Like The View, House of Rose Winery is also one of the Kelowna Fab Five. A more intimate and homely experience compared to the more aristocratic wineries in the Valley, you can even enjoy a picnic with your friends and family in their scenic picnic area. Nibble on a salad between sips of their light and fruity Cool Splash wine, or bite into a pork sandwich while drinking a glass of rich Sweet Mystery wine. If this isn't what summer's all about, then what is?