This time of year, it’s probably the question I get asked most often. “Hey, we’re on our way to the Okanagan; which wineries should we visit?”
This week’s column answers that query. This list starts in the north and embarks on a sunny road trip south; do check out each winery’s website for hours of operation, addresses and more information.
Winemaker Grant Stanley honed great skill with Pinot Noir during his lengthy tenure at Quails’ Gate; his cool-climate take on the grape here is as pristine and lovely as his highly quaffable Rieslings.
Winemaker Ann Sperling’s family has farmed this land for generations, possibly good reason why she’s so in tune with the land. From these soils come some charming aromatic whites, sparkling crisp Rieslings, and more.
Legendary Rieslings with bright acidity, buoyant and bright Pinot Noirs, and criminally underrated Chardonnays are all sommelier favourites.
Dive deep into Pinot Noir with various bottlings devoted to different vineyards and a handful of clones. Spierhead used to make a Bordeaux-styled, big heavy red from South Okanagan fruit, but have put that aside for greater Pinot focus.
If you haven’t been, you must. Mission Hill is indeed one of our most lauded wineries and, without a doubt, it has put our region on the map. It’s grand, opulent, and a testament to the Canadian wine-industry dedication and vision of proprietor Anthony von Mandl.
Get geeky with winemaker Matt Dumayne’s dedication to natural wine under the winery’s Haywire label. Low-intervention wine styles are an honest take on our terroir. The organic Switchback Vineyard on-site is worthy of a stroll among the chickens and sheep that wander the rows.
Former hockey pro and lawyer, now winemaker Tyler Harton makes small-production wines by hand that are so gentle, elegant, and nuanced that, well, it’s hard to believe they’re made by a former hockey pro and lawyer. Riesling and Pinot Noir are personal faves.
Yup, for eight generations, the Schales family has been making wine in Germany and now in B.C. Goes without saying: their Rieslings are a must.
Third-generation Naramata farmer Rob Van Westen is the epitome of a garagiste, salt-of-the-earth winemaker. Don’t miss his Viognier and big, chewy reds.
Hey: their wines are all ripe and hearty Okanagan classics, but it’s their Gewürztraminer slushies that’ll hit the spot on a hot afternoon.
You say you don’t like fruit wines, hey? Nope—you just don’t like shitty fruit wines. I give you my word, Miranda and Del Halladay’s wines are acid-driven, pristine takes on Naramata pears, cherries, and more, many of ’em superdry. Do it.
John Skinner’s flashy new winery is almost as lavish as his stunning Syrah- and Bordeaux-styled Red Icon blend.
Paul Gardner and Julie Rennie have a breadth of wine styles, all of ’em on point. One of the best parts of the visit though is checking out their awesome wine cave carved into the side of the mountain.
Because in the midst of all of this wine touring, there’s nothing better than a little craft beer refresher.
For more than 25 years, some of the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in the Valley.
Speaking of some of the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in the Valley…
Aromatic whites that’ll give you a little spring in your step, and a great place to grab a bite to eat.
I love that you can do a self-guided tour of a working winery almost as much as I love chef Jeff Van Geest’s food at the on-site Miradoro restaurant.
Old Vines Chenin Blanc and Rhone varieties are the specialty here (quite special, in fact).
Many have been buzzing about the Syrahs and other reds coming out of Chris Jentsch’s family winery, for very good reason.
A good stop because you're gonna have a tough time tracking down grapes like Arneis, Tempranillo, and single-varietal Petit Verdot elsewhere.
John and Virginia Weber’s winery tells amazing stories about Similkameen Riesling and Syrah with each sample poured.
Biodynamic farming, a jaw-dropping setting, and some vivid, juicy wines. Don’t overlook the Pinot Blanc; it’s a personal highlight.
Arguably the smallest winery in the land pouring crisp and lively Riesling, Chardonnay and a pink made from Cabernet Franc.
Need more advice? Feel free to Tweet me at @KurtisKolt—I’m always happy to offer more leads!