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Planning your BC Wine Tour
South Okanagan: Oliver & Osoyoos Oliver is the self-professed “Wine Capital of Canada,” which it comes by honestly as it is home to nearly half of the planted grape acreage in British Columbia. Here you’ll find the Golden Mile Bench, which was recognized as BC’s first official sub-region in 2015, and the sun-soaked Black Sage Bench, which is revered for growing grapes required for full-bodied red wines. This part of the province contains a large stretch of desert and the arid conditions would typically make growing any type of vegetation other than sage brush and cacti a formidable challenge. But irrigation has turned large sections of it into a lush landscape filled with orchards and vineyards, making it a fruit and wine lover’s paradise. Regional Notes: • Baldy Mountain Ski Resort offers family-oriented alpine and cross-country skiing • The area has a unique collection of desert flora and fauna including Burrowing Owls, rattlesnakes, golden eagles, pricky-pear cactus and antelope brush and there is a Desert Interpretive Centre providing education on native species. • Osoyoos Lake is the warmest lake in Canada. • The region is in very close proximity to the United States border. • It is rich in First Nation’s heritage and home to the country’s first indigenous winery. • There are about half a dozen golf courses in the region Approximate Number of Wineries: 57 Primary Varieties: Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris First Winery: 1980.
South Okanagan: Okanagan Falls & Kaleden This area of the valley was recognized as the second sub-geographical indication in BC allowing certification of wine from this specific region on labels. The region stretches from Vaseux Lake north to Skaha Lake and is home to some of the Okanagan’s most photographed vineyard views. The wineries in the area have formed a collective know as the Corkscrew Drive that celebrates the grassroots approach and unique character of the region’s terroir.
 Regional Notes: • There are no actual “falls.” Okanagan Falls originally boasted twin falls that fell from where Skaha Lake emptied in the river. The falls were eliminated with a series of dams were constructed to control flooding • There’s a large quirky flea market that operates weekly • Visitors go out of their way to visit the local ice cream and confections shop that gets international rave reviews • The area has a rustic, old world charm and a large collection of antique shops • Vaseaux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area is a mecca for viewing California Bighorn Sheep and a large variety of bird species • It’s a short drive to about half a dozen golf courses Approximate Number of Wineries: 12 Primary Varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc First Winery: 1986
South Okanagan: Penticton & Naramata This region arguably sets the bar for marrying the romantic ideals of a wine region with reality. Its high concentration of wineries located along the south east shores of Okanagan Lake, known as the Naramata Bench, and the north part of Skaha Lake afford unsurpassed vistas and unique wine and farm-to-table food experiences. There are almost 900 acres of grapes planted along this small corridor and the area is a big attraction for cycle winery tours. Regional Notes: • Penticton is nestled between two large bodies of water – Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, making it a mecca for water sports and offering long stretches of sand beaches. • Apex Mountain and Nickelplate Nordic Centre provide alpine and cross-country skiing. • World-class rock climbing is offered in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. • The Penticton River Channel connects Okanagan and Skaha Lake and floating down the 7-km channel is a popular summertime activity and touted as a must do on the Great Canadian Bucket List • If you’re traveling by car along the Naramata Bench, keep in mind there are no service stations along the way or in the village at the end of the road. So fuel up before you go. • There are four golf courses in the area. Approximate Number of Wineries: 41 Primary Varieties: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay First Winery: 1990
South Okanagan: Peachland & Summerland Known for its amazing Lake Okanagan vistas and rolling hills and mountains plus a quaint grassroots vibe, this part of the valley is bathed in extended hours of sunlight that are required for growing the plentiful fruit, but also make these beachside communities the gems that they are. In Summerland, there are a cluster of wineries within a short drive of each other who have banded together to create the “Bottleneck Trail.” In Peachland, there is a collection of wineries located just off Highway 97, the main artery through the Okanagan.
Regional Notes: • These communities offer long stretches of sandy beaches that will appeal to sun worshipers and watersports enthusiasts. Peachland’s Swim Bay is perfect for a day of family fun with its zip line, children’s playground and lifeguard supervised beach area. • Small artisan shops, boutiques, farmers’ and craft markets are a tranquil contrast to the big box stores and shopping centres of neighbouring cities • The Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland offers visitors a taste of this classic mode of travel from yesteryear. • Summerland Ornamental Gardens is a 15-acre heritage botanical garden open year round for walks, hikes, picnics and garden research. • Excellent hiking can be had at Hardy Falls, Pincushion Mountain and Giant’s Head Mountain parks • There’s also an exotic bird sanctuary and zip line adventures nearby. • There are three golf courses in the area. Approximate Number of Wineries: 23 Primary Varieties: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir First Winery: 1980
central Okanagan: West Kelowna & Kelowna The Central Okanagan communities of Kelowna and West Kelowna are home to the oldest continually operating winery, which opened in 1932. However, grapes were first planted here in 1859 at the Obelate Misson in Kelowna by Father Charles Pandosy, who used the fruit to make sacramental wine. The idea of grape-growing and wine making was slow to catch on and it wasn’t until the early 1990s that producers began to see the true potential. Today, there is barely a glimmer of these humble beginning, save for the Father Pandosy Mission museum and heritage site. The Central Okanagan is a shining example of a first-class wine region offering top-notch wines coupled with critically acclaimed dining and cultural experiences. Two distinct pockets in the area provide for convenient day-trip touring – The Westside Wine Trail and the grouping of wineries in Kelowna’s Mission neighbourhood. However, there are wineries scattered throughout the region from city centre locations to those tucked deep into the hills overlooking Okanagan Lake. There are also producers of mead, craft beers and ciders, spirits and various fruit wines. Regional Notes: • Kelowna is BC’s largest interior city and its name comes from the Okanagan First Nation word for “grizzly bear” • Home to Big White Ski Resort which is known for “Okanagan champagne powder” • There are plenty of urban and rural hiking trails including those which follow the lake on both the Kelowna and West Kelowna sides. Close-in mountainous trails can be found at Mount Boucherie and Knox Mountain • A short drive will take you to the pristine Okanagan Mountain Park, site of the in famous wildfire of 2003 that became a “firestorm.” The park has been rejuvenated since with fresh flora that has brought back several species of wildlife • The scenic Myra Canyon Trestles, which are part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, attract cyclists and hikers from around the globe • Beaches and waterfront parks are plentiful • The westside’s Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park is a working heritage farm growing close to 800 nut trees and shrubs that produce walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, butternuts, buartnuts and heartnuts • There are 18 golf courses in the area Approximate Number of Wineries: 37 Varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay First Winery: 1932
North Okanagan: Lake Country, Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby & Grinrod The North Okanagan offers a diverse ecosystem that provide distinct character to the wines that are produced here. From Lake Country where more than half a dozen vintners are making wines of world-class character on the steep slope along the Okanagan Lake shoreline, to Vernon and Enderby where a growing collection of producers are embracing the unique cool-climate terroir. This is a wonderful region to embark on a day-trip visiting wineries and taking in the varied landscape that includes the vast Okanagan Lake, the aquamarine waters of Kalamalka, the urban life of Vernon and the rich grasslands south of Enderby. Regional Notes: • Lake Country comes by its name honestly, as it is home to numerous bodies of water including Duck Lake, Wood Lake, Kalamalka Lake and Okanagan Lake • The grasslands of the North Okanagan are still home to several working ranches and some offer dude ranch experiences • Kalamalka Lake’s stunning turquoise waters are courtesy of Calcium carbonate deposits which form crystals that reflect the sunlight and create vivid colours. Some say the deposits have healing properties • Silver Star Mountain Resort outside of Vernon features a picturesque village and hosts an annual summer wine festival • This area is well know for its ice-fishing • There are about a dozen golf courses in close proximity Approximate Number of Wineries: 20 Primary Varieties: Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe, Pinot Noir, Marechal Foch, Zweigelt First Winery: 1997