Working in the travel business, we are always looking for places we’ve never been to before. A friend of ours told us about an area of Canada worth a visit. We discovered a valley in BC with a unique geography, fine climate and superb wines. Located in British Columbia, Canada, the agricultural Okanagan Valley reinvented itself when someone discovered that the landscape and the benefits of the mild climate had potential for growing grapes.
The wineries of the Okanagan Valley are located on the hills of Okanagan Lake, stretching from Oliver, on the south end of the valley, to Vernon in the north. Not knowing what to expect, we rented a room in a small Bed and Breakfast just outside of Oliver. The owners were farmers in the valley. They had transformed some of the farm buildings into comfortable and cozy rooms. We made it our “Pied-a-terre” for the next 5 days.
The Oliver / Osoyoos wine region is often referred to as the Golden Mile, and his home to Canada’s only desert. Indeed, the area frequently records the highest daily temperature during the summer months for the entire valley. The landscape is dotted with sagebrush and cacti, yet the soil is rich enough to sustain thriving vineyards when irrigated. The region declared itself the “Wine Capital of Canada”. With 14 wineries located between Oliver and the US Border, it comes by that name honestly.
There’s a large grouping of wineries just south of Oliver. Driving north we ran into Okanagan Falls, home to five wineries, all clearly indicated on the signage along Highway 97. We continued farther north and, tucked away on the other side of Penticton, we found a captivating bench land known as Naramata. The main road winds its way along the southeastern tip of Okanagan Lake, passed farm properties that give the area an English-countryside appeal.
We drove all the way to Central Okanagan. Kelowna is the valley’s largest city. The area offers the scenic wonders of the great outdoors. It is here that we found miles of sandy beaches hugging the shores of Okanagan Lake, and North America’s longest floating bridge spanning one mile of waterway at the lake’s narrowest point. The region is home to 11 wineries, ranging in size from cottage-style to what would be considered as large as a commercial winery.
The region produces red and white wines. Without a doubt, we found the whites to be of much better quality. You’ll find a large array of Chardonnays, but also some of the more popular German grapes such as Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris, which seem to flourish in this climate.
Life is a beautiful adventure.
We had a wonderful time and it was hard to leave. We brought back tons of memories, and of course, lots of wines. Food, wine & travel are amazing ways to shorten distance between people & culture.
The French in Me
The French in Me: Stumbling through the Okanagan Wine Country