This September, I had the luxury of driving around beautiful British Columbia after my sister got married in Canmore, Alberta. I wanted to feature a separate post on each of the main hubs we visited. After nursing our post-wedding bodies, we ventured on the first part of our truly Canadian adventure!
The Okanagan Valley is a 200 km long and 20 km wide region with a series of lakes known for it's dry, desert-like climate and sunny weather. This geographical area creates a micro climate perfect to grow tasty produce and GRAPES to make delicious wine. Driving in the Okanagan area, you will witness dozens of vineyards surrounding the lakes... quite the sight for sore eyes! Below are my recommendations and highlights from our short but sweet visit there.
This stunning resort is designed with the principal theme of Swarovski crystals and European-inspired sophistication. The resort overlooks Lake Okanagan and encourages personal wellness. My favourite feature of this resort is the KurSpa which is the largest spa in Canada and has everything from an infinity pool overlooking Lake Okanagan to a European Cryotherapy Cold Sauna (-110). This was definitely an ideal place to stay after the wedding as they're the leader for healthy living and wellness hospitality.
Airbnb tends to dominate the Eastern Canadian market but we found VRBO came to our rescue when we were desperately researching for a central and comfortable accommodation. Our rental was nestled in the Okanagan region of Peachland. The perks of the property included a waterfront oasis with a large swimming dock and a location that was perfectly situated near some of the major wineries.
Below features a list of the restaurants we absolutely enjoyed on our trip. Click on the restaurant for a glimpse of their menu and let your mouth water.
Our favourite activity of our trip was the day we spent with Experience Wine Tours. Everything from picking us up at our front door to having an AMAZING spread for lunch -- I'm talking the most delicious charcuterie board you've ever tasted. Probably because the owners, Shannon and Matt, carefully select the most delicious local products and ingredients to serve their clients. We visited six wineries while riding in style in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Matt was a great tour guide and is incredibly knowledgable not only about wine (being a sommelier), but he is well versed the nuances of the region and was spot on with his recommendations. This experience was most definitely the highlight of our time in the Okanagan.
Cam and I made it to 15 wineries throughout our stay and I've listed our favourites below (in no particular order). Most of the wineries below will sell online and ship to Ontario and many have one or two different bottles available at the LCBO (check them out here: BC reds, BC whites, BC rose, BC sparkling). We could have stayed for three more weeks trying all the wineries (over 150!). Needless to stay we went way over our baggage weight maximum on our flight and we've run out of room to store all of our wine in our condo!
La Stella - An Italian-style winery with great wines, particularly their Alegretto and Maestoso Merlots.
Le Vieux Pin - A sister winery to La Stella featuring French-style wines. The team's passion for wine is evident. Ava and their Syrahs were my favourites.
Poplar Grove - A beautiful spot and our favourite of the trip! Try the Legacy and Cab Franc. Everything was delicious, you can't go wrong here.
Culmina - The latest passion project from the Triggs family. Check out their Hypothesis and Saignée.
See Ya Later Ranch - Everything is dog themed (so cute) with good wines for everyone. Our favourites were Rover and Jimmy my Pal. Unfortunately, See Ya Later will not ship to Ontario.
Mission Hill - One of the best known wineries in the country and winner of many awards. I recommend doing a tour of their incredible facilities and then springing for the Legacy tasting ($10) to try their top-tier wines with one of their sommeliers.
Quails Gate - Great view and restaurant. Check out their Pinot Noir.
Blasted Church - The home of clever wine names and labels. They've gone well beyond marketing ploys though; we actually enjoyed all of their wines. Their OMG bubbles and Big Bang Theory were real standouts.
Laughing Stock - Their well thought out finance theme got me going as a banker. Really good wines all around, particularly the reds. Check out Portfolio.
Liquidity - Relatively new winery with a beautiful facility/view and crazy artwork. Viogner was a favourite.
Gray Monk - The oldest family-owned winery in BC. They offer a great complimentary tour and solid wines. Pinot Gris and Odyssey wines are worth the trip.
Blue Mountain - Incredible view and great wines. The Bruts here are fantastic.
I would definitely travel back to this beautiful area of Canada. There is still so much to do and see. It's a must for anyone looking for a travel destination with delicious wine, friendly locals and magnificent scenery!