A wine tour of Canada’s beautiful Okanagan Valley

Ven to a person aware of going spherical wineries, Mission Hill is just jaw-losing. The 40 in particularly commissioned sculptures, the 12-story bell tower, the collection of ancient Greek amphorae, the Chagall tapestry … that is as grand as a wine enjoy gets. Yet, it’s now not within the Napa Valley one thousand miles to the north in Canada’s Okanagan Valley.

Wine is booming inside the Okanagan. There had been only 31 wineries in the area; now, there are over a hundred thirty. The area is ruled via the spectacularly stunning 135km-lengthy Okanagan lake, which runs from Vernon within the north right down to the semi-desert region of Osoyoos. It’s even reputed to have its personal equivalent of the Loch Ness monster, the Ogopogo.

Although now not that to remote places vacationers, it’s a fave summer excursion spot for Vancouverites and a refuge for Canadians from states such as Saskatchewan and Alberta escaping the brutal winter temperatures of the midwest. “As quickly as you return out here, you sense as in case you’re on vacation,” my guide instructed me. “There’s so much to do at the lake – cruising, boating, kayaking – otherwise, you simply pull over and opt for a swim.”

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Together with Undertaking Hill and Quails’ Gate, Bold wineries had been fuelled by using a tech industry growth that has added increasingly more nicely-heeled millennials to the vicinity. Wineries have usually been a plaything for rich marketers like Venture Hill’s Anthony von Mandl. Still, much less flamboyant estates, such as LaStella and Hester Creek (which has its very own chef’s desk and a cookery school), are engaging places, a few modeled on Tuscan farmhouses.

The Okanagan, like elements of the neighboring US states of Oregon and Washington, turned into until these days an undeveloped rural region, dotted with ranches and fruit farms, and this culture may be witnessed before everything hand thru farm-to-plate studies on estates together with Covert Farms’ sprawling 650 organic acres.


That is the simplest location I’ve been to integrate a tasting tour of the farm with a wine tasting. Proprietor Gene Covert, the fourth generation of his family to farm the belongings, drives us around in his choose-up truck, preventing within the vineyards for a pitcher of sparkling “pét-nat” obviously fermented rosé and to cram our faces with wild blueberries directly off the bush. There are hikes up the towering McIntyre Bluff, a 300-meter cliff fashioned over the last ice age from the farm. Perhaps earlier than, rather than after, the wine tasting I endorse.

Any other tons smaller farm, Outdoor, does the farm-to-plate thing by going for walks a chef’s desk and cookery school. It’s owned by chef Chris van Hooydonk, who walks us across the heavily weighted down cherry bushes of his two-acre “hobby” orchard before cooking us a simple, impeccably sourced lunch matched with local wines. All the elements are rigorously call-checked: fat, candy Purple Bay scallops, sustainable prawns, natural lentils, home-grown peas, and pea shoots.

With the talent that would effortlessly have made him a shining light in Vancouver, van Hooydonk chose to live inside the Okanagan, so he can spend greater time together with his own family and “cook dinner food I’m excited about that week.” It’s now not a cheap meal – the minimum spend for the dining room is C$500 (£300) – but it may accommodate 10 human beings, and you can take your very own wine. “And that I’m there inside the kitchen,” says van Hooydonk. “Several humans say they like shaking palms with the individual making ready the food.”

There’s an individuality to the Okanagan that’s now not observed in Napa, or maybe Sonoma. Take the tiny Upper Bench Winery & Creamery in Penticton, wherein Uk-born Gavin Miller makes the wine and his spouse, Shana, an impressive selection of cheeses. We will taste the 2 together, and Gavin’s deep pink rosé is an all at once exact in shape with Shana’s punchy Stilton-fashion King Cole blue.

Upper Bench is just one in every one of the wineries alongside the Naramata Bench, a 14km ridge that turned into part of the lakeshore. From a visiting point of view, they’re best as they’re carefully spaced. Almost next door to Upper Bench are Poplar Grove, with an exhibit tasting room and its rock’n’roll sibling Monster Vineyards – an allusion to the Ogopogo – which has All the city vibe of a downtown Vancouver wine bar.

At biodynamic Winery Summerhill in Kelowna, the wines are aged in a 4-story duplicate of the Exquisite Pyramid of Giza, which seemingly enhances their aroma and clarity and reveals “the knowingness of eternity.” Er Ok. however, it makes a without a doubt instead scrumptious and multi-award-prevailing sparkling wine called Cipes brut (modestly named after the Owner, Stephen Cipes), so perhaps there’s something in it. I’m not sure I ever reached the “knowingness” of who I was, even though: there’s Plenty of hippy-dippy stuff inside the Okanagan.

At the opposite crease of the valley in Summerland, a cool Winery called the Okanagan Overwhelm Pad is filled with tulip- and egg-shaped concrete tanks designed to carry out the high-quality within the “no-additive, native ferment” wines made for its Haywire label and different small manufacturers. As Captain Beefheart pumps out over the sound gadget, a small white fluffy fireplace rug inside the shape of a Wonderful Pyrenees pup called Bijou wanders across the tasting room. They encourage you to have a seminar – now not just a tasting. Oh, and the winemaker has a beard and tattoos of the route.


As you drive further south, it receives step by step hotter and drier. A massive part of this southern part of the Okanagan, Canada’s only barren region, is owned by First State Canadians, who farm a few 32,000 acres around Osoyoos. They, too, have a Vineyard and motel called Nk’Mip (stated kameez), in conjunction with soaking up the cultural center, which strains the records of the Osoyoos people. Underneath an invitingly blue sky, I set out at the Nk’Mip on the footpath but have the second mind when I see the yellow caution symptoms: “Be alert: watch for rattlesnakes.”

“You rarely see one,” my manual Darlene tells me later, most effective half of convincingly. not often is too regularly for me. This comparatively unspoiled part of the sector seems to be rich in critters, including black widow spiders (eek!), wild deer, and bears. Those closing are a particular danger for Vineyard proprietors as they could consume their own weight in grapes at some point.

I will absolutely blame them.

The experience turned into furnished through Destination British Columbia

Getting there

The Okanagan valley is 4 hours’ pressure from Vancouver, or site visitors can fly to Penticton or Kelowna and choose a hire vehicle. Canadian Affair (canadianaffair.Com) has a week’s fly-pressure to Vancouver and the Okanagan valley from £496, including flights from Gatwick and automobile rent.

Where to live

In Zed (doubles from £84 room simplest, hotelzed.Com) is a colorful new boutique Inn in downtown Kelowna with a table tennis lounge and complimentary curler skates. High above the valley ground Observatory B&B (doubles from £87 B&B, jacknewton.Com) in Osoyoos has its very own telescope and a rooftop observatory. Spirit Ridge at NK’Mip Lodge (doubles from £94 room best, spiritridge.Ca) is First Countries owned, with villas and more than one pool.

Whereinto consume

Waterfront Wines (mains from £15, waterfrontrestaurant.Ca) in Kelowna is a small bistro run by chef/sommelier Mark Filatow, supplying the Super value the High nice of meals. Miradoro, the eating place at Tinhorn Creek Winery, is one of the many classy Winery eating places within the valley offering tapas (from £7) and pizza (from £11) well as a complete restaurant menu. Component grocery, Component cafe, the Bench Marketplace is a homely Penticton group and Fantastic for breakfast or brunch, with epic scenes.


Authentically, Okanagan (aoktours.Com) and enjoy Wine Tours (experiencewinetours.Ca) offer organized Excursions of wineries up and down the valley from £75pp. A less expensive option is planning a self-guided excursion on the Good enough “hop-on, hop-off” wine go back and forth (6 hours £38pp, okwineshuttle.Ca). more information from Tourism Kelowna