One of the premier wine regions in Western Canada, the Okanagan runs roughly between Kelowna and Osoyoos (British Columbia) along highway 97. With over 200 vineyards, it makes the perfect place to spend a few days (or a few weeks) indulging in some Canadian wine.
There is a wide range of wineries from small, family-run vineyards to high-end estates and everything in between. The region has one of the highest numbers of vineyards in Canada and produces about 80% of the province’s wine. Tourism is big in the area, with numerous spectacular lakes, outdoor activities and festivals, most of which are in the summer months between June and September.
At the northern end of the Okanagan, is the largest city of Kelowna, which is the main hub for most tourists to the area. I decided to begin my exploration of the area in East Kelowna, in search of some exceptional wineries.
Here are some wineries that stood out:
Sperling Vineyards was my first stop East of Kelowna, and a very enjoyable one. The staff were friendly, entertaining and there were a wide variety of wines available for tasking. In particular, I enjoyed their Old Vine Foch, which is a red I don’t see often in the valley but is growing in popularity. It has nice strong spice and smoke flavour, without being as watery like some of the other reds you find this far north in the Okanagan. Not inexpensive at $30+ for a bottle, but a unique varietal and a quality wine to pair with a special dinner.
Famous for their giant pyramid and body dynamic wines, Summerhill is one of the most popular wineries east of Kelowna. This tourist hot spot has a huge tasting room bustling with tour bus visitors, complimentary tastings, and a beautiful restaurant overlooking the lake (not gluten-free friendly, however). They offer premium wines, as well as their regular label selection. A nice place to visit and enjoy the views, but overall none of the wines massively impressed me at the lower price point.
St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery
Just a bit further down the road from Summerhill is St Hubertus & Oak Bay, a smaller, family estate winery, offering sustainable & Organic wines at a reasonable price. They have a beautiful tasting room with a variety of gourmet food products and $5 tasting fee. A stand out for me was the Reisling, which has a velvety mouth feel without being overly sweet. Nice for a summer patio sipper, or to pair with a light meal.
Cedar Creek Estate Winery
Going even further down the East side of Okanagan Lake from Kelowna, you’ll find this amazing gem. Cedar Creek Estate Winery is beautifully situated with a gorgeous restaurant on site, overlooking the lake. The staff were very knowledgeable and friendly, and the wines fantastic and reasonably priced. In particular, they have a nice old vine Foch (growing in popularity in this area), a crisp and fruity Ehrinfeltsler, and a lovely Pinot Noir. The wines were consistently good across the board, and if I were going to join any Okanagan wine club, this would be the one.
Located just north of Kelowna in Lake Country, Arrowleaf Cellars is a hidden gem in an area that struggles to produce. They are a small winery with a selection of unique, aromatic white wines, such as Bacchus and Snow Tropics Vidal, as well as one of the loveliest picnic areas. At the time of writing, they offered free tastings and gourmet food items for sale. Come for the wine, stay for a summer picnic.
No matter which wineries you decide to stop at during your tour of the Kelowna viticultural area, you will have a fantastic day enjoying Canadian wine and spectacular views.