How to Plan Your Okanagan Wine Tour

The best time of year for Okanagan wine tours is somewhere between Spring and Fall with the summer months being the most popular. Long, hot sun-filled days and cool nights are typical summertime weather. In the winter months, tourists can enjoy excellent skiing, but wineries offer limited hours and many close entirely.

Okanagan Driving Wine Tours

The eighty plus wineries of the region are spread throughout the 124-mile length of the Okanagan Valley. With the 60-mile long Okanagan Lake in the center, it’s not always easy to hop from one side of the lake to the other so it’s best to limit your tour to a specific area each day. Fortunately, many wineries are clustered together near small towns and "wine tour" signage on the highway will help you spot where to stop. Excellent maps and tour itineraries are available from the websites Travel British Columbia and British Columbia Wine Institute.

Tourists arriving in the Okanagan Valley via air will land in the city of Kelowna. Located at the northern end of the valley, it is the largest city in the region with a population of approximately 110,000. All major car rental companies are represented at the airport.

Whether you rent a car or drive your own, it is important to consider the laws regarding alcohol when planning a wine tour. In British Columbia, legal age for alcohol consumption is 19. Identification is required. Open containers in a vehicle are not permitted unless they are properly sealed and stored where they cannot easily be reached. The legal limit for alcohol is .08. If you plan to visit wineries a designated driver is highly recommended.

Organized Okanagan Wine Tours

Another excellent option for visiting wineries is to arrange for a tour. With your driving worries eliminated, you can relax and enjoy visiting, tasting and learning about wine. In addition, many tour services will arrange for special behind the scenes tours or private tastings that are not always available to the public. Combining a wine tour with a mid-day picnic or winery restaurant meal is a sure bet for an enjoyable experience. A local guide will usually provide history and insights into the area.

Many hotels, inns and B&B’s will arrange wine tours for you or try these resources:

For an organized tour with an athletic twist, see the okanagan wine country by bicycle:
Monashee Adventure Tours

Getting to the Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan Valley is located in the mountains of British Columbia, approximately 245 miles (395 kilometers) east of the city of Vancouver, BC. Driving time is between 4 and 5 hours. From Seattle, Washington the distance to Kelowna is 313 miles (504 kilometers).

Regularly scheduled flights from Vancouver or Seattle arrive at the Kelowna International Airport. Flight time from Vancouver is approximately 20 minutes and from Seattle approximately 1 hour.