Canada’s Okanagan Wine Country
With more than 80 wineries and hundreds of wines to choose from, the Okanagan Valley offers wine tourists an outstanding diversity of tasting experiences. Whether you enjoy sweet dessert whites, dry reds, sparkling wines or just want to know what a good Ehrenfelser (a German hybrid of Riesling and Sylvaner) really tastes like, it’s all waiting for you in the Okanagan wine country.
Black Sage / Osoyoos
The Okanagan Valley has five recognized sub-regions. At the southern end of the valley near the U.S.-Canadian border is the Black Sage/Osoyoos region. It’s actually the northernmost tip of the Sonoran desert and the warmest, driest region. Located on Osoyoos Lake is Nk’Mip Cellars, a joint venture between Canada’s largest wine company, Vincor International and the Osoyoos Indian Band. In addition to award-winning estate wines, the winery offers many tourist amenities. Although not open to the public, one of the most exciting wineries in the area is Osoyoos Larose, another Vincor partnership, this time with the French company that owns famed Bordeaux house, Gruaud Larose.
Golden Mile Wineries
Moving north toward the town of Oliver is the sub-region of Golden Mile, named for the rich agricultural land that comprises approximately 60% of British Columbia’s grape growing acreage. A large cluster of notable wineries are located in this area including Burrowing Owl, Gehringer Brothers and Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.
Leaving the Golden Mile sub-region and continuing into the Okanagan Falls sub-region, wineries of interest include the international award-winning Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Winery. Although the tasting room is located just north of Oliver, the estate-grown grapes are from the Osoyoos Bench area. Another well-received winery and grower in this region is Wild Goose Vineyards.
Continuing north just above the town of Penticton is the Naramata sub-region. Penticton is the traditional dividing point between the warmer, drier southern Okanagan and the cooler, wetter northern half of the valley. Stonehill Estate Winery, Township 7 Winery, Therapy Vineyards are all good bets along with Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, one of Canada’s pioneers in the icewine category.
The northernmost sub-region of Kelowna is home to some of the Okanagan’s most visited wineries. Summerhill Pyramid Winery is a popular tourist destination for its stunning four-story replica of an Egyptian pyramid. On the opposite side of Okanagan Lake are two highly regarded wineries, Quail’s Gate Winery and Mission Hill Winery. All three wineries boast outstanding restaurants, sweeping lake views and offer a broad array of wines and wine styles. In addition, Calona Vineyards, in operation since 1932, is British Columbia’s oldest winery and its artist series line of wines continues to delight critics and consumers alike.