Regional Maps
Planning your BC Wine Tour
OKANAGAN VALLEY: Traveling south to north
South Okanagan: Oliver & Osoyoos If big, juicy red wines are what you are after, then the Oliver-Osoyoos area is a must visit on your BC wine tour. This is the most southerly region of the Okanagan Valley and features a lush landscape populated by vineyards and orchards as far as the eye can see. It is a veritable paradise of plenty when it comes to fruit and wine. In the spring, every corner of this area comes alive with stunning blossoms, followed by the intense green foliage and eventually the vines and trees are heavy with the bounty of the season’s fruits. It might surprise you that without human intervention little would grow here. The Oliver/Osoyoos area is in a desert belt – an extension of the Sonoran stretching up from Mexico. Cacti and rattlesnakes are more at home than fruit trees and vines. Fertile ground for growing has been made possible by determined farmers using irrigation, which has given new life to the South Okanagan. The area’s extended days of heat and sunshine have made it possible to grow varieties not thought possible north of the U.S. border. Oliver is known as the Wine Capital of Canada. And while that is a self-designation by the municipality, the area comes by it honourably by being home to nearly half of British Columbia’s vineyards and wines. Osoyoos is the southernmost point in the valley and located on the shores of the warmest lake in Canada. It’s a border town with easy access to the U.S. for those who want to make a quick trip stateside.
Common varieties grown: Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc Average Daily High Temperature (July) – 30C Average Annual Rainfall – 250 mm Average Hours of Sunshine – 2039
South Okanagan: Okanagan Falls & Kaleden
Common varieties grown: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer Average Daily High Temperature July – 29C Average Annual Rainfall – 297 mm Average Hours of Sunshine – 1925 The unassuming communities of Okanagan Falls and Kaleden located south of Penticton are part of an impressive wine growing hub. In 2018, Okanagan Falls became one of only four recognized Sub-Geographical Indications in BC under a system that recognizes smaller, more defined pockets with unique grape growing terroirs. It’s a designation to be fiercely proud of. The first winery opened in 1986 and since, about a dozen wineries have established themselves along the region’s winding roads. Most of them are members of the Okanagan Falls Skaha Winery Association, at which Okanagan Falls is the centre, stretching north along the east bench of Skaha Lake, across the water to Kaleden and south over the hills of Vaseux Lake. The association describes this area as a “unique climatic zone known as a semi-arid steppe, the finale stage of a desert area that extends up from the United States. Along with that comes long warm days and cool nights that retain the acidity in the grapes and helps shape their distinctive character and flavours.” Many of the wineries have embraced this unique terroir to craft products with individual signatures to critical acclaim. You’ll find organic, biodynamic, rustic and sophisticated wines made here. The Okanagan Falls and Kaleden area harkens back to a simpler way of living. You won’t find any big box stores here, but if you’re in need of some retail therapy, you’ll be delighted by the eclectic mix of antique stores and craft shops, plus a flea market. The “falls” themselves don’t actually exist. Originally, twin falls fell from where Skaha Lake empties into the river, however, in the 1950s a series of dams to control flooding were built, reducing the falls into a series of rapids. Nonetheless, the area is a huge draw for nature lovers as a large selection of wildlife lives in the area, with many unique desert flora and fauna for naturalists to explore. A bird sanctuary is situated at Vaseux Lake just south of the town, complete with an interpretive centre.
South Okanagan: Penticton & Naramata The wine growing regions of Penticton and Naramata tick all the boxes for travellers seeking the convenience of an urban setting with the tranquility of rural life. Penticton is city with a small-town feel and is ideally situated between Okanagan and Skaha Lakes, offering up stretches of sandy shoreline and crystal waters. There’s a river channel that winds through the heart of the city and visitors can leisurely float the entire length on tubes and other floatation devices, an activity that has been listed in the book titled, The Great Canadian Bucket List. The City of Penticton is renowned for its festivals and special events including the Fest of Ale, Peachfest, Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival, Elvis Festival and the Ironman Triathalon. Signature events for the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival are also held here. Adventure travellers will appreciate that they’re only minutes from Skaha Bluffs, a climber’s paradise that has garnered international recognition. Just short drive through the city and around the north side of Okanagan Lake and you’ll find yourself on the Naramata Bench, a pastoral vineyard nirvana with stunning water views. Here is where you’ll find one of the highest concentrations of wineries in the Okanagan Valley, bearing a unique terroir that has been recognized as one of four Sub-Geographical Indications The Naramata Bench is a great option for destination day trips and if you don’t mind the occasional hill climb, this is a sensational spot for a winery cycle tour. Common varieties grown: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc Average Daily High Temperature July – 29C Average Annual Rainfall – 299 mm Average Hours of Sunshine – 1923
South Okanagan: Peachland & Summerland
The communities of Peachland and Summerland don’t just have enticing names, their locations are pretty dreamy as well. Both communities are set along the shores of stunning Okanagan Lake between Kelowna and Penticton with picturesque rolling mountains in the backdrop. As their names suggest, they are tranquil retreats bathed yearly in ample sunshine. Both offer clean waterfront access to beaches, marine parks and docks as well as walking, hiking and biking trails. And if that isn’t enough to draw visitors, let’s talk about the hospitality and the wines. Here, wine lovers will find unique pockets of eclectic wineries, some located right off Highway 97, which serves as the main artery, while others are dotted along the hilly landscape. Enthusiasts will be especially drawn to the “Bottleneck Drive” in Summerland, a meandering path leading visitors to 18 quaint wineries, three cideries, a distillery and even a brewery. There is literally something for everyone no matter what your poison. And they are all closely grouped, making a cycle tour an appealing option. This area offers a truly grassroots feel and artistic vibe. Expect to be entertained by local musicians, and enjoy the works of artists and crafters. This is an area rich in creativity. It’s also a foodie’s paradise, with local producers and restaurateurs embracing the concept of the 100-mile diet – regional cuisine that promotes local, seasonal ingredients.
Common varieties grown: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir Average Daily High Temperature (July) – 27C Average Annual Rainfall – 307 mm Average Hours of Sunshine – 2057
central Okanagan: West Kelowna, Kelowna & Lake Country In the January 2020 issue of Forbes magazine, travel writer Fiona Tapp had high praise for the Central Okanagan as a destination for both enthusiasts and newbies to the world of wine. She described the area as ideally suited to growing grapes due to the sunshine, arid terrain and expansive lakes. She used terms like “unpretentious” and “friendly” when referring to some of the areas producers, which would appeal to those who enjoy wine but don’t know that much about it. Indeed this could have a lot to do with the Central Okanagan’s humble start in the wine industry. Father Charles Pandosy first planted grapes in the area in 1859, which were dedicated simply for the making of sacramental wine for his tiny parish and grown on questionable vineyards at the Oblate Mission in Kelowna. What was produced served its purpose. But nobody expected the wines to set the world on fire. Yet somehow they managed to lead to a wine-growing revolution in BC that nobody saw coming for at least another 100 years. Today the Central Okanagan is the major urban hub of the Okanagan Valley. Kelowna is the largest interior city with a population of just over 130,000. But there is still a thriving agricultural community and winemaking is at its heart. As far as destinations go, the Central Okanagan has a lot to offer. The City of Kelowna and the City of West Kelowna are separated by William Bennett Bridge at the narrowest point of Okanagan Lake. There is the convenience of an urban setting for all those who crave the city life. Yet the area teems with scenic wonders offered up by an expansive waterfront and surrounding mountains and forests. A short drive north of the City of Kelowna is Lake Country. The area is very scenic with gorgeous lakes and mountains, and there are terrific little pockets of wineries producing highly-acclaimed wines for all palates. The central region is home to a growing number of wineries, ranging in size from tiny cottage-style to larger world-class venues that are still intimate by most standards. Many have on-site restaurants that are acclaimed for their cuisine.
Common varieties grown: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay Average Daily High Temperature July – 26-28C Average Annual Rainfall – 347 mm Average Hours of Sunshine – 1949
North Okanagan: Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby & Grinrod While the South Okanagan can serve up blistering heat in the summer, visitors to the North Okanagan will appreciate a more tempered climate while still offering up long, blissful days of sunshine. The area is very scenic with gorgeous lakes, mountains, woodlands and grasslands. There is a small collection of producers making ciders, meads and grape wines around the Vernon, Enderby, Armstrong area. Vernon itself is a small city with a strong sense of community. It offers great shopping and dining experiences, as well as nightlife and entertainment. One dazzling attraction in the North Okanagan is Kalamalka Lake, a large body of water on south side of Vernon, stretching down to Lake Country, where calcium carbonate deposits form sparkling crystals that reflect sunlight, creating breathtaking blue colours in the water from deep navy to vivid aquamarine. There are sandy beaches and stunning rock faces plus a 2,420-acre provincial park. It’s paradise for anyone who appreciates nature. The North Okanagan is home to Silver Star Mountain Resort, which beckons with an all-season playground and offers wine-centred events at different intervals during the year.
Common Grape Varieties: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Ortega, Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe Average Daily High Temperature (July) - 26C Average Annual Rainfall - 333 mm Average Hours of Sunshine - 2026