July 17, 2014 | by Christina Van
What makes the Okanagan one of the top wine destinations in the world? How about nearly 200 wineries stretching from Osoyoos to Armstrong, each with their own story and flavour. Or perhaps it’s the more than 60 varietals and the award-winning vintages that rise from this sun-soaked lakeside landscape.
For those and many more reasons—warm proprietors, fantastic wine tour guides, amazing wine festivals and stunning vineyard scenery—thousands visit Kelowna every year for a wine trip that competes with those of California and France.
To make sure you get the most out of your Okanagan wine tours, use this handy guide, complete with a calendar of festivals, local resources and a list of the varietals the valley is famous for.
After the produce, the sun, the water and the wine, the Okanagan is known for the wine festivals it hosts to bring all of these wonderful things together and share them with oenophiles of every variety. We even have a wine festival for marathoners!
Here is a snapshot of the region’s most-loved annual wine festivals.
As part of a series of Destination Races held in wine countries across North America, the September Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon offers a stunning and delicious race along sprawling vineyards and a sparkling lake. Here’s a great video preview of the race and the wineries along its route.
For more than thirty years, Okanagan vintners and the BC wine community have come together to celebrate the valley’s wine with new releases, tastings, and dozens of wine-and-dine affairs. Nearly 100 events are held in breathtaking settings across the valley during this early October festival.
The slogan of this annual January affair is ‘Sip, Savour and Save your way through the Thomspon-Okanagan.’ More than 50 restaurants from Kamloops to Osoyoos participate in this amazing event that gives locals and tourists alike a chance to enjoy BC VQA wines and paired dishes from some of our most celebrated restaurants at a big discount.
Just as the vines begin to bloom, thousands of wine-lovers descend up the Okanagan to celebrate this exciting time at vineyards. More than 100 events take place over the span of 11 days in May where you’ll have the chance to taste exquisite pairings of wine and food as well as the music and sun-kissed hills of this Napa of the North.
For an inside tour of the wineries where events are being held, visit the tasting rooms of your favourite vintages with your very own wine tour guide. Look for Kelowna hotels that offer wine tour packages to pair enjoy tours of wineries during the day as well as a central locations so it’s easy to get to wine festival events in the evening.
This sun-drenched landscape is home to more than 60 varietals, including all your favourites:
Once you discover your favourite Okanagan wines, buy a few bottles to bring back home, and a few to enjoy on the deck or courtyards of Kelowna hotels before tucking in to bed.
There’s just no better way to do it. On a guided wine tour, you get to sit back and soak in the sublime views and decadent vintages as you hop from winery to winery without thinking about how to get there or holding back at tastings. Plus, many of these guides have an intimate knowledge of the Okanagan wine industry and they sometimes have access to the warm and knowledgeable winery proprietors.
Plus, when you choose Kelowna hotels that offer wine tour packages, you’ll save on both your room and your tour, and you know you’ll be getting an excellent guide for a day to remember.
With more than 200 wineries at your disposal and only so many hours in the day, it’s worth doing some research (perhaps over a glass of wine?) to create your very own wine trail.
Here are some great resources to make planning your Okanagan wine trip easy:
The Kelowna Wine Trails Guide is an online brochure that maps out five distinct wine trails near Kelowna hotels: the Lake Country Scenic Sip, the Westside Wine Trail, Lakeshore Wine Route, and the Kelowna Fab Five. With handy maps and descriptions of each unique wine trail, the guide makes it easy to find the wineries and scenery you’re after to make the most of your wine tours.
The host of VitaminDaily.com video blogs her way across Kelowna wine trails. In this segment, she stops to get the inside story behind the name and label of Kelowna’s The View Winery and Vineyard.
Winter is a wonderful time to tour the wineries of the Okanagan, as you’ll enjoy more intimate tours and maybe even a moment to meet the proprietor. This winter wine tour video of the world-renown Mission Hill begins amidst the barrels, a gated wine library and urns dating back 5,000 years.
In the Okanagan, wine-growing is almost a way of life. In this Kelowna Tourism video about what makes our wine country special, You’ll get glimpses of vineyard lakefront views and taste wine along with four locals who wouldn’t live anywhere else.
For the tech-savvy oenophiles, there are some great apps out there to make planning and recording your wine trip a snap.
With Wine Tripper, the British Columbia Edition, you can find directions and opening hours for more than 170 BC wineries as well as log and rate the wines you’ve tasted and purchased along the way.
The Okanagan Wine Festival app makes it easy to keep track of all those wine and cheese events, get directions and info for all the valley’s wineries, and store a log of your favourites in the virtual 'My Cellar' section.
If you're into learning about the rich history of the Okanagan Wine Region, visit the BC Wine Museum in Kelowna's cultural district downtown. This museum is open to the public and features wine bottles, labels, wine-making equipment and a look at what the industry was like when it all started. You can also pick up a bottle or two (for drinking, not just for looking) at the attached BC VQA Wine Shop!
While the Okanagan is world-renowned for its wines, it's also a four season playground that can be enjoyed at any age! Here are the Top 5 Reasons to Stay at Best Western Kelowna Hotel to take in what the valley has to offer.
Whether you’ll be touring wineries in the Okanagan for a weekend or a week, make your wine trip is amazing and more affordable with wine tour packages offered by Kelowna hotels such as the BEST WESTERN PLUS Kelowna Hotel & Suites, offering a spa, mineral pool, free hot breakfast buffet, restaurants and a grassy courtyard where you can enjoy a souvenir vintage!