B and I have just returned from a long weekend in the Okanagan and, upon returning, I’ve come to the conclusion that we British Columbians are indeed a spoilt lot! A five-hour drive from Vancouver, the Okanagan is home to hundreds of wineries – the exact number varies depending on which website I look at, but be assured that it is many. Not only is there seemingly limitless wine but fresh summer fruits, spectacular scenery, and friendly people. Yup, we are spoilt!
I’ve travelled through BC’s wine country a few times before but I’ve not been back for a while so it seemed like the perfect excuse to take my uninitiated in-laws on a tour of some of the local wineries. It was for them as much as it was for me. Although I drink and enjoy wine, I wouldn’t classify myself as knowledgable in wine (in fact, I feel like a newbie!), so this was a good opportunity to sample more wines and attempt to educate my palate.
We opted for wineries close to where we were staying and visited a number of the West Kelowna wineries, starting with Mt. Boucherie, Volcanic Hills, the stunning Quails’ Gate, and we finished with the imposing Mission Hill, which is perched on top of a hill. When the day was done, we had barely even scratched the surface of the West Kelowna wineries, and hadn’t even made a start on Kelowna, Naramata, or Oliver area, wineries. Needless to say, if you are a wine connoisseur, you will want an extended trip and you will want to plan.
Mt. Boucherie and Volcanic Hills were the smaller, more intimate wineries of the four we visited. Quails’ Gate winery was a bit larger and had absolutely stunning views over the lake and the gentleman that served us was great at explaining the basics of wine and wine tasting, which really helped to ease my in-laws into the tasting. I love ice-wines and dessert wines so I ended up purchasing a bottle of their dessert wine Botrytis Affected Optima, which is known as the “nectar of the gods”. The name is justified as it is thick, sweet, and had a strong apricot flavour. I’ll be cracking that after our next dinner party.
The final winery that we visited was the ever-popular Mission Hill. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of their wines but there is no denying that their estate is impressive. Inside the tasting room, they had a great gift shop filled with food and wine collectibles, like glasses, cooking books, and chopping boards. I wanted to buy it all! We ended up purchasing a bottle of their 2009 Oculus as we had sampled a bottle of their 2007 Oculus at the Araxi Big Guns Dinner last year and it was one of our favourites. Unfortunately they had none of the 2007’s available, but we will keep the 2009 for the next few years until we are able to open it.
Wine tasting is always a lot of fun, but when you add in warm, sunny days, spectacular views, tasty wines, and wine-haze, it becomes an even more elevated experience. I am really looking forward to our next trip to the Okanagan, next time focusing on the Naramata area.
Our wine haul