With the sun blazing, there’s no better time to hit desert wine country in the South Okanagan, reputed to be the warmest place in Canada. Sunshine, beaches, roadside fruit stands, fabulous restaurants and over 30 wineries – what more could a gal ask for?
Jugni Style’s Sukhi Ghuman recently ventured to the Similkameen Valley, Oliver and Osoyoos, and returned with cases of wine and six top picks on where to go in BC’s desert country.
1. One of the newest wineries on the block is Adega on 45th Estate Winery, which opened its doors in June 2012. What to try: Their white wines are absolutely amazing, I already regret not buying more. The 2010 Felicidade and the 2011 Pinot Gris were my favourites. This is one of those wineries you can easily miss, so look out for the signs. Adega on 45th Estate Winery, 7311 – 45th Street, Osoyoos, BC | 250.495.6243. Tasting Room Hours: 10am-5pm, 7 days a week.
2. Located near the north end of Osoyoos Lake, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is one of the most highly rated grape-growing wineries in Canada. What to try: The Burrowing Owl 2008 Meritage is an elegant blend of Bordeaux with classic aromas and flavours of black currants, blackberries and cedar with long ripe tannis. And if your heart desires, stay for lunch or dinner at the Sonora Room which overlooks 140 acres of the picturesque vineyard. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, 100 Burrowing Owl Place, Oliver, BC | 250.498.0620. Tasting Room Hours: 10am-5pm, 7 days a week.
3. Another new Okanagan winery located 10 minutes away from Burrowing Owl is Church & State Wines. With sweeping views of the Okanagan Valley’s wine country, stop by for a tasting in their luxurious hall adjacent to the barrel room at Coyote Bowl. What to try: The 2008 Quintessential and the 2008 Coyote Bowl Meritage both took Gold in the 2012 New World International Wine Competition and I have to admit that enjoying a glass of vino on the patio was a treat. Church & State Wines, 31120 87th Street, Oliver, BC | 250.498.2700. Tasting Room Hours: 11am-6pm, 7 days a week.
4. Named for the towering pine rising from the vineyard, Le Vieux Pin is a must on your wine route. Paying homage to the great personalities and wines of France, this boutique winery captures the true essence of French winemaking tradition, but with the fruit and character of the New World. What I like most: Le Vieux Pin grows organically and sustainably while using a small batch production of grapes sourced from the best vineyards, allowing the winemakers to have greater control over the final quality of the wine. It also means that you need to get your bottle of wine before they run out. Le Vieux Pin, 34070 – 73rd & Black Sage Rd, Oliver, BC | 250.498.8388. Tasting Room Hours: 10am – 7pm, 7 days a week.
5. Nk’Mip Cellars (pronounced in-ka-meep) is North America’s first aboriginal owned and operated winery, dedicated to crafting premium wines. Overlooking the shores of Osoyoos Lake, the winery is part of Canada’s only pocket of desert. In 2012 alone, Nk’Mip Cellars won a prestigious 76 awards both internationally and nationally. What to do: Relax on the patio while enjoying an aboriginal inspired menu paired with their flights. Nk’Mip Cellars, 1400 Rancher Creek Rd, Osoyoos, BC | 250.495.2985. Tasting Room Hours: 9am – 9pm, 7 days a week during the summer.
6. Hester Creek Estate Winery is one of the oldest vineyards in BC, and the wines are regularly recognized in both international and regional competitions. Their signature wines include Trebbiano, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Blanc and Character White. Be sure to enjoy a glass or two at Hester Creek’s restaurant, Terrafina, which provides a setting much like you would find in a villa overlooking the hills in Tuscany. Hester Creek Estate Winery, 13163 – 326th Ave, Oliver, BC | 250.498.4435. Tasting Room Hours: 10am – 5:30pm, 7 days a week.