Discover winter wine-tasting in the Okanagan on the Lakeshore Wine Route
Winter in the wine country is as beautiful as it is delicious.
A hypnotic calm falls over the Okanagan region of British Columbia in the winter. The tourists leave. The air grows brisk. It's time for a wine tour.
The wineries on the Lakeshore Wine Route welcome visitors in from the cold to taste and relax. They also offer peaceful off-season walks in the hills, talks on their processes and time to chat with the owners about the wines they love. At one winery you can even enjoy quiet time in a pyramid.
First stop in pursuit of big flavour
Tantalus Vineyard's 75-acre estate specializes in high quality, single vineyard Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
"Single vineyard," says general manager Jane Hatch, means "all of our wines are grown and made at our estate."
Tantalus is the first LEED-certified (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) winery in British Columbia, she explains. And at this winery, it's all about biodiversity.
A 10-acre mature forest forms the centre of the vineyard. It's home in turn to fifty-three beehives and numerous bird-nesting boxes. Tantalus farms as sustainably as possible, which is part of why it all tastes so good.
Tantalus also offers private tours for guests. Tours take about an hour and are by appointment only. A senior member of the winery staff takes visitors into the vineyard to discuss how it all works, show off the winery, and give guests a good look at operations. The tour ends in the gallery-style tasting room, where 40-feet of floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer panoramic views.
“The relaxed atmosphere during the off-season allows you to enjoy one-on-one service with the tasting bar staff," says Jane. She's proud of her team, who she says are handpicked for their excellent customer care and wine knowledge.
From vines to wines
Just four kilometres from Tantalus is Canada’s largest certified organic winery. Known for its award-winning wines, Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s intimate atmosphere provides a fully immersive wine experience compliments of its knowledgeable staff.
Run by the Cipes family, Summerhill is not only a place to taste organic wine, its 65-acres of vineyard and nature reserves make a wonderful hike.
One of the Okanagan's first European settler cabins and a First Nations' winter dwelling called a Kekuli can be found on the property. The spacious, dome-shaped Kekuli makes for a peaceful and inspiring place to sit and reflect.
Set above the winery is its namesake pyramid-shaped wine cellar. The unusual and captivating structure nods to the sublime nature of the wine.
Daily guided tours include an introduction to organic wine making and a tour through the cellar to see how the “champagne” method works. Next comes a walk up to the Pyramid to experience its unique surroundings. The final destination is a guided tasting.
Summerhill’s onsite restaurant, the Sunset Organic Bistro, is open throughout the year and features organic food and wine pairings.
The varied menu includes seafood, seasonal vegetables and grass-fed organic beef. Off-season specials include wine sold at wine shop prices with free corkage.
On Fridays, the bistro offers happy hour specials and live music from talented musician James Elser.