AndromedHa

Kelowna Winery Tour

Posted on: July 30, 2014

Hiya,

On my last Kelowna trip, I didn’t have time to do winery tour. Five years ago, me, my family from Indonesia, and my-now-husband were in Kelowna visiting some of the well known wineries. So, I decided to make a post about my Kelowna winery tour experience to you all ūüôā I know that some of the pictures maybe out dated. Nevertheless, the number of wineries in Okanagan Valley keeps growing every year. As I’m working in wine industry,¬†I have a chance to have basic knowledge about wine and have an opportunity to¬†taste a lot of different varieties. I must say that BC wine has become more popular than its competitor from California and other countries.

There are over 200 wineries scattered around Okanagan Valley (ref). If you are overwhelmed with the number, don’t fret! Here are some useful websites that you can use to plan your visits:

  • Tourism Kewlona has an¬†online guide to help you¬†plan¬†your¬†route
  • Okanagan Wines provides easy to browse list for all the wineries¬†around Okanagan Valley area.
  • WineBC provides greater list of the wineries available in British Columbia.

Or if you don’t want the hassle arranging your own tour, you can join one of these Wine Tours that will guide you through certain wineries while enjoying some glasses of good BC wine.

If you have the freedom to explore the winery by yourself, there are 5 areas around Kelowna itself according to Kelowna Wine Trails guide. They are known as¬†Westside Wine Trail, Lakeshore Wine Route (South of Kelowna), Downtown Kelowna, Kelowna Fab Five (East of Kelowna), and Lake Country (North of Kelowna). You can also explore more wineries in Summerland, Naramata,¬†and Penticton¬†(south of Kelowna) and even¬†more¬†wineries in Oliver and Osoyoos that is near Canada-USA border. For this entry, I will focus on the winery around Kelowna that we visited. It takes about 4 hours drive from Vancouver to Kelowna. The drive wasn’t too bad since halfway to Kelowna, you’ll see beautiful Rocky mountain surrounding the area as well as some gorgeous lakes. If you prefer to¬†get here fast for a weekend gateway, you can fly¬†to Kelowna International¬†airport (YLW) that is not too far from Downtown Kelowna (20 minutes drive).

1 On the way to Kelowna

1. Mission Hill Winery (Westside Wine Trail)

The Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is so far the most scenic winery I’ve ever visited. Established in 1996, Mission Hill wines have gained popularity in Canada and worldwide. There are two in-house winery tours available: Heritage Tour ($12) and Discovery Tour ($22). Both tours are 60 minutes each and will have a wine tasting & food pairing at the end (ref). In addition, there are three longer¬†sommelier guided tours: Legacy Tasting Experience (90 mins for $55), A Vineyard Lunch & Tour (2 hours for $95), and The Connoisseur (75 minutes for $50). All charges¬†are based on adult price. It is recommended to book the tour online beforehand as limited time and space are available – click here for the website. If you just simply want a wine tasting, go to the wine¬†boutique. For $8, you will be able to taste some of their delicious wines.

On the west side of the winery ground, there is the Terrace Restaurant with beautiful background of Okanagan Lake. Again, reservation is recommended as the space filled up pretty fast during lunch and dinner (website). Aside from their great wine, I absolutely love the architecture around the ground. Tom Kundig, the architect,¬†did a great job on creating a detailed yet beautiful design (ref). From¬†the entry gate, the keystone, the courtyard, the terrace, the bell tower, the loggia, and the amphitheatre¬†(ref), I felt like I’m walking into¬†an European village.

2 Mission Hill Entrance

TOP: Entry gate, the keystone, Mission Hill barrel
MIDDLE: the vineyard, the amphitheatre
BOTTOM: The Terrace, the Loggia and Bell Tower at the back

3 Mission Hill Ground

TOP: the long hallway of loggia, the wooden gate with Mission Hill logo, the bronze bell
BOTTOM: The view of Okanagan Lake

4 Mission Hill Shop

Some of the Mission Hill products including award wining Icewine and its 2004 Oculus (picture taken in 2009)

28 Mission Hill Winery

Mission Hill Winery in 2014

¬†***Other wineries on Westside Wine Trail include¬†Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery (website), Volcanic Hills Estate Winery¬†(website), and Quail’s Gate Winery¬†(website).***

 

2. Summerhill Pyramid Winery (Lakeshore Wine Route)

As mentioned in its name, Summerhill Pyramid Winery is well known for its pyramid shaped wine cellar. Established in 1986, it¬†commits to produce 100% organic wine and has obtained the Demeter Biodynamic certification for their¬†Kelowna vineyard in 2012 (ref). According to many comments in TripAdvisor, it seems like the pyramid was under construction and some clutters were unpleasant to some tourist. Luckily, it is now complete and hopefully, they tidy up the surrounding a bit. On the further side of the main boutique, there is the iconic champagne glass and bottle statue as well as a half globe embedded on the ground. The view is stunning as Okanagan Lake stands as the background. On the lower ground, there is a small courtyard before the vineyard starts. When we were there in 2009, there was a wedding ceremony that was about to start. I bet with the perfect summer weather and a great view, the happy couple felt like they were on cloud nine! ūüôā Winery tour is available for $10 with complementary wine tasting and the $5 can be rebated toward a wine purchase (ref). Inside the boutique, there is a big window where you can see a lower room filled with the stainless steel tanks¬†to¬†ferment the¬†wine. It was pretty cool to see how they make the wine.

5 Summerhill Winery

TOP: The entrance to the boutique, the half globe, the champagne bottle and glass
BOTTOM: The famous pyramid wine cellar, a cute dog peeked inside the boutique, a wedding ceremony

6 Summerhill Winery Shop

TOP: an award wining wine, the big mirror above the tasting bar, the stainless steel tanks
BOTTOM: this cute dog ignorantly slept although there were so many people, an old truck near the property

3. Cedar Creek Winery (Lakeshore Wine Route)

Cedar Creek Winery is¬†a smaller winery in south of Kelowna. Established in 1986, this winery was recently¬†bought by¬†von Mandl Family, the owners of Mission Hill Winery, in early 2014¬†from its founder,¬†the¬†Fitzpatrick family (ref). However, the winery still open to the public and they still have winery tour ($8) with complimentary wine tasting. The winery actually has 3 vineyards where it grows the grape: one in Kelowna and two in Osoyoos (ref). The all-white exterior looked very elegant with a terrace facing Okanagan Lake. Apparently, they also hold summer concerts here. Imagine sipping a glass of wine while listening to your favorite artist under the summer sun… ah… what a life!

7 Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek Winery (2009)

***Other wineries on Lakeshore Wine Route include Tantalus Vineyards (website), and St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery (website).***

4. Gray Monk Estate Winery (Lake Country)

Established in 1972 by the Heiss family, Gray Monk Estate Winery is probably the earliest winery existed in Kelowna area (ref). It offers a complimentary wine tasting of 4 wines from its Latitude and Estate Series (ref). We bought the Unwooded Chardonnay from its Estate Series and were very happy with its rich refreshing white wine Рa perfect summer wine!

 

11 Gray Monk

***Other wineries on Lake Country include Ancient Hill Winery (website), Arrowleaf Cellars (website), Ex Nihilo Vineyards (website), 50th Parallel Estate (website), and Intrigue Wines (website).***

5. Calona Vineyards Winery and Sandhill Estate Winery (Downtown)

As I mentioned earlier, I work in wine industry and I have to mention Calona Vineyard Winery and Sandhill Estate Winery in this post since they are part of my company’s family hehehe…. ūüėõ Calona Vineyard is the pioneer of winery in Kelowna since it was established 1932. There is a small tasting room behind the shop where you can try some of their award wining wines. My personal favorite is Soverign Opal (ref), a crisp, fruity, refreshing wine that pairs perfectly with a lot of Asian dishes.

Oh did I mention that you can also taste Wayne Gretzky Estate wine here! Yup, the famous hockey player dipped his toes into winery business too! Actually it has 3 different location for its vineyards: Niagara-on-the lake in Ontario, Okanagan in BC, and Sonoma in California – USA. I haven’t tasted any of Wayne Gretzky’s Okanagan wine but some people said that the wine is good.

Recently, they renovated the building next to Calona Vineyard. It is now open as Sandhill Estate Winery. The unique thing about Sandhill is that it has 6 vineyards locations which gives distinctive flavor to each of its wine (ref). The vineyards are located in Oliver, Penticton, and Similkameen Valley. The tasting room in Downtown Kelowna is very spacious and provides relaxing atmosphere.

 

On the south-east side of Kelowna, The View Winery, Spierhead Winery, The Vibrant Vine, Camelot Vineyards Estate Winery, House of Rose Winery, and Sperling Vineyards are known as Kelowna Fab Five. Although they are smaller than other wineries, these boutique-style wineries have some very good quality wines for you to enjoy.

 

DISTILLERIES

If you need a break from visiting these wineries, there are also some distilleries around Downtown Kelowna that worth visiting: Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery (website), Urban Distilleries (website), and Tree Brewing Co (website). They have various alcoholic products such as beer, gin, whisky, vodka, fruits liqueur, and even Absinthe!!!

 

ORCHARDS & GARDENS

In 2009, we had a chance to visit Kelowna Land & Orchard¬†near central Kelowna. It is sad to know that they was closed in 2010 since we had so much fun looking and feeding at the chicken and goats on the premises. The little shop sold variety of fruit and vegetable products including homemade apple cider, various pickled vegetable, local honey, etc. Oh and who can forget the black friendly kitty that guards the shop ūüôā It loves being pet by the visitors.

Luckily, there are other different orchards around Kelowna nowadays – click here for more information. If you are in the area during cherry season (around July & August), I recommend you to buy a bag of cherry! Okanagan cherries are really goooood! If you are travelling south of Kelowna toward Osoyoos, don’t forget to stop at Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm. Visit them in July to see the lavender blooms and have a chance to smell its calming fragrance.

10 Kelowna Land & Orchard

Kelowna Land & Orchard in 2009

As I said in my previous post, I saw a lot of developments in Kelowna area when I compared my visit in 2009 and 2014. Summer tourists crowded the downtown and marina area that now have lots of local restaurants and unique shops. Summer can be very hot around Kelowna. Make sure to visit the fun water park inside the City Park for a splash of fun! And maybe enjoy a cup of Moo-Lix ice cream to cool off your body. Strolling around the new marina in the evening can be a romantic experience too. There are lots of fun activities and attractions around Kelowna aside from winery tour. I hope you enjoy your visit in Kelowna ūüôā

8 Downtown Kelowna

Kelowna downtown and City Park in 2009

9 Marina Kelowna

The Marina on Okanagan Lake in 2009

26 Kelowna Marina

The Marina on Okanagan Lake in 2014

M.a.J

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