Sip Your Way Through the Okanagan Valley this October
British Columbia is spectacular all year, but many people consider it to be at its very best in the fall. The Okanagan Valley in particular puts on an impressive show with its hillsides transforming into brilliant shades of red, gold, and orange, the 135-kilometer-long Okanagan Lake, and some of the mildest weather in all of Canada.
Naturally, Okanagan Valley’s fall scenery and climate provide the perfect setting for a number of outdoor recreational activities. Whether you prefer hiking, cycling, horseback riding, golf, stargazing, camping, or something else entirely, you’ll find ample opportunities for it here. Fall also happens to be grape harvest season for the 200+ Okanagan Valley vineyards, and USA Today once named the Okanagan wine region as the second-best in the entire world. With five distinct wine trails and an outstanding farm-to-table foodie scene, there’s no better time than this fall to experience wine tasting Okanagan Valley style.
Please note: With COVID-19, many Okanagan Valley wineries are open, but with new and additional safety precautions. Wine tasting is an excellent social distancing activity – plus you’re directly supporting independent, locally-owned businesses – so gather your friends, bring face coverings, and enjoy sipping your way through the Okanagan wine region.
As the “Wine Capital of Canada,” Oliver is the perfect starting point for wine tours in Okanagan Valley. Oliver has the highest concentration of wineries and actual vineyards in all of the Okanagan wine region, plus an abundance of hiking and biking trails, a charming downtown shopping area, and even its very own Tuc-el-nuit Lake and beach area.
- Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery – This family-owned winery in Black Sage Bench started as a fruit orchard in 1979. Both the indoor tasting room and outdoor patio (when weather permits) are open for limited tastings. No more than three groups will be allowed at once, and there must be less than six people per group.
- River Stone Estate Winery – Sitting just north of Oliver and south of McIntyre Bluff, River Stone Estate Winery is a boutique Okanagan vineyard focusing on small-lot wines. Daily outdoor tastings are offered to groups of no more than six people, and visitors are asked to call to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins will happily be accommodated if there is availability.
Where to stay near OIiver
Situated directly on the Okanagan River and steps away from numerous dining and shopping options, as well as outdoor recreational activities, the pet-friendly Coast Oliver Hotel is the perfect basecamp for visiting Okanagan Valley wineries in Oliver.
- Complimentary bagged breakfast to go
- Electric car charging ports
- Indoor pool and hot tub
Kelowna is often called “Napa North,” likened to the famed northern California wine region, but you’ll find it to be far less crowded and more idyllic. Sitting directly on Lake Okanagan and in between the Cascades and Coast Mountains, you’d be hard “pressed” to find a more scenic place to go wine tasting.
- Summerhill Pyramid Winery – Unique among Okanagan Lake wineries, Summerhill Pyramid produces 100% organic and biodynamic wines. The family-friendly winery does drop-in tastings and has an organic bistro with a large patio. Table space has been increased and individual tasting stations have been created.
- Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery – This winery was named after Mount Boucherie, a long-dormant volcano, and has the tremendous benefit of growing its grapes in the unique soil. Reservations for both the tasting room and The Modest Butcher eatery are strongly recommended, and the maximum group size is six.
Where to stay in Kelowna
Your days in Kelowna will be full – literally, so you’ll need accommodations that will help you relax and recharge in the evenings. Look no further than the pet- and family-friendly Coast Capri Hotel, near the shores of Lake Okanagan and with stunning views in every direction.
- Within a short walk of Lake Okanagan and several shops, restaurants, and nightlife
- Complimentary hot breakfast and parking
- Onsite Beyond Wrapture Day Spa and Vintner’s Grill, which frequently has live music
Just minutes from the Canada-United States border, Osoyoos is well-known as “Canada’s desert.” Indeed, Osoyoos is located in Canada’s only desert region and is one of the warmest places in the country. The town is also home to Canada’s warmest freshwater lake, Osoyoos Lake, and has an abundance of championship golf courses, miles of hiking and biking trails, and of course, plenty of Okanagan Valley wineries.
- Moon Curser Vineyards – Moon Curser distinguishes itself among Okanagan Valley vineyards by using primarily Old World grape varietals that aren’t native to Canada. The winery must be onto something, because it was named the Best Performing Small Winery of 2019 at the Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada. Private and semi-private tastings are being offered daily by appointment only.
- Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery – The family who owns Bordertown, the Gills, is renowned in the world of Okanagan Valley vineyards for producing top-quality fruit and wines – and they have numerous awards to prove it. Bordertown also recently released its Hard Pressed apple cider, made with apples grown right on the winery. Wine tastings are available seven days a week by appointment only, and guests can reserve a time online.
Where to stay around Osoyoos
A private beach may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about wine tasting in Okanagan Valley, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Coast Osoyoos Beach Hotel. Here, start your days visiting Okanagan vineyards and end them with some well-deserved lakeside R&R – Osoyoos Lake is literally just outside your door.
- Private beach on Osoyoos Lake with lounge chairs and picnic areas
- Complimentary kayak rentals
- Indoor swimming pool with a children’s waterslide
At Coast Hotels, we are thrilled that so many people from all over the world are ready to get back out there and explore again. However, it is absolutely essential to travel not just safely, but responsibly as well.
Do your homework. Call Okanagan Valley wineries (and any other attractions you want to visit, for that matter) ahead of time to confirm their hours and policies, and to make reservations. Familiarize yourself with local COVID-19 guidelines and protocols, and consider verifying this information again just before you arrive.
Finally, be patient and respectful. COVID-19 has completely altered the landscape of so many aspects of our daily lives, and things are constantly in flux. Understand that processes may move a little slower, people may be a bit more wary, and experiences will generally be a bit different this year. Keeping an open mind and positive attitude will ensure that you have an incredible visit to the Okanagan wine region. Cheers!