Top 8 Day Trips from Vancouver: Wine Tours in BC's Okanagan Valley
British Columbia's Okanagan Valley is home to Canada's most celebrated wineries, which produce world-class ice wines, reds and whites. Take a tour of the wineries in BC's sun-drenched interior to discover the history and heritage of wine-making.
Mission Hill Family Estate: Located to the West of Kelowna, on teal-blue Okanagan Lake, Mission Hill Family Estate is among one of British Columbia’s most celebrated wineries. Recently named “2011 Winery of the Year” at the InterVin International Wine Awards, Mission Hill is best known for their consistency and range of styles, though a visit to the winery itself is an experience, which promises to satiate all senses, rather than simply the palate. Located on 900-acres of vineyards, the estate has been constructed in homage to the European roots of its founder, Anothony von Madl, and contains a vast courtyard, Tasting Salon, Greek-style amphitheater, and even a 12-storey bell tower.
Mission Hill Estates offers a range of tours, to cater to the different tastes of potential patrons. Look to the sommelier-guided tours to satiate the foodies in your group, providing guests with a selection wines and food pairings, or an al fresco lunch, before moving on to an exploration of the vineyard and Barrel Cellar. Those more interested in the wine-making process and “viticulture” may find the Discovery Tour more riveting, while the history buffs among us can look to the Heritage Tour to tickle their fancy.
Tours are held from March through to the end of December, and range from $85-12. Reservations are encouraged in advance, as tours can sell out quickly.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery: Set on a sandy plateau at the north end of Osoyoos Lake, the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is original in its ambitions. In addition to producing high-quality wines, many of which have been recognized internationally, the estate is also committed to protecting the delicate ecosystem of the Sonora desert. Bluebird boxes, bat nurseries, and protective barriers, which ensure the safety of ground nesting meadowlarks, have all been erected with the ambition of living harmoniously with the natural world.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery offers both guided and self-guided tours of the estate, which includes a 140-acre vineyard, with the former held from April until the beginning of October. Guests will be able to stroll through the grounds, taking a gander as well, at the Burrowing Owl’s unique, underground facilities.
Guided tours are priced at $5 per person, while wine tastings are only a toonie. All proceeds from the former are donated to the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of British Columbia, and compose the majority of the society’s annual funding.
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards: Overlooked by a site from British Columbia’s bygone mining era, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards just to the southwest of Oliver, on the Golden Mile of the Okanagan’s wine-growing district. Spanning 150-acres of vineyards, Tinhorn Creek uses its unique location, nestled beneath the Coastal Mountain Range, to grow the tricky Gewürztraminer grape. A white wine frequently consumed as an aperitif, the Gewürtztraminer is a cousin to the Riesling.
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards offers self-guided tours that take guests through the entire production process of wine-making, even allowing visitors to taste a variety of grapes, during time spent in the demonstration vineyard.
The Tinhorn Creek wine tasting room is open throughout the year, its patio offering what many have claimed to be one of the best views of the South Okanagan.
Cedar Creek Estate Winery: Twice named Canada’s “Winery of the Year,” Cedar Creek Estate Winery is a treat for those who don’t want to travel too far outside of Kelowna. Located just 20 minutes from the city, the estate boasts 50-acres of vineyards, including an area thick with clay, loam and sand – making it the producer of a fine Pinot Noir. A good choice for food pairing, the Pinot Noir, which typically contains notes of cherry and raspberry, also plays a dual role as one of the most romantic wines.
Cedar Creek Estate Winery offers tours of its vineyard and extensive gardens, while relaying to visitors the key elements of wine-making success.
Tours are daily, and run from May until October, priced at $7 per person. Children are allowed, but only on best behaviour.
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