Ice Wine January 22-25
Spring April 29-May 2
Summer August 5-7
Destination Wine Fest 2004 !
The wine will be flowing in the Okanagan Valley from September 30-October 9, 2004, during the Fall Wine Festival. Wineries large and small will be open for the curious public and the professional wine buyers to taste their wares. With a little encouragement (very little for many people), visitors and locals alike will take home bottles of their favourites to share with their friends and family.
I have reviewed just a few of the 26 wineries for you, just to give you a cyber-flavour of the weeks to come.
Gray Monk Estate Wineries in the Okanagan Mission is a small winery, but this adds to the quality of their product. If you like white wine with just a hint of fruity flavour, be sure to try their "Latitude 50". Not too sweet, not too dry and the type of wine that gets you looking for a second bottle. They have the best white wines at a reasonable price. Tours and tasting daily from 11am - 4pm on the hour. You can purchase product from 10am - 5pm daily.
"Arrow Leaf" winery is a new winery that opened up in May of 2003 it is only 5 minutes away from the Gray Monk. This is a family run operation who have already won awards for their wines. The Bacchus is a local favourite at a decent price.
Mission Hill and Quails Gate are my two favourite wineries to visit is the Central Okanagan. Both locally owned, they produce excellent products from their modest surroundings. Be sure to try Mission Hill Private Reserve products (specifically, the 1997 Private Reserve Cabernet-Merlot or the 1998 Private Reserve Pinot Blanc) Mission Hill is a family owned winery dedicated to the creation of world class wines. When you enter their tasting room you can see the vast number of awards they have accepted for their quality products since the winery was established in 1981.
The Stewart Family who own Quail's Gate do not know how to make a bad wine - they are all excellent. If you want a treat and you like white wine, try their Chardonnay; it is second to none, world wide. Quail's Gate is a family owned and operated estate winery, so you get the story right from the winemaker when you ask a question.
Both these wineries are in Westbank, under 10 minutes from downtown Kelowna.
The South Okanagan boasts the largest number of wineries in the area, as the weather and topography here most closely represents that found in Southern France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, the top wine producing countries in the world. More important, the grapes seem to like it here too.
Sumac Ridge Winery has a Private Reserve label that the locals don't like to talk about. It's just too darn good for the tourists to take away from us! The winery is a little hard to find, despite tons of signs, especially if you are driving south. Just as you get to the outskirts of Summerland, keep your eyes peeled for the road to your left at the top of the hill. The directional sign is a little overgrown, but the hunt for the wine shop is worth it.
A little further south, near Okanagan Falls, you will find Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards another estate winery which is worth the visit. Their Cabernet Frac is a delight for red wine lovers.
Just south of Oliver, there is a small estate winery which has potential to give the big guys a run for their money. Tinhorn Creek has self directed tours from 10am - 5pm on a daily basis. Since they are a little hard to find, I would recommend calling ahead, or sending e-mail to get directions.
One of the best wineries anywhere in the valley is call the "Burrowing Owl". The wines here are a little expensive but after you try them you'll understand why. They sell out of all of their reds early in the spring so I would visit them early in the year as possible.
How to contact the Wineries for more Information
Cedar Creek Estate Winery
Gehringer Brothers Estate
Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery
Hester Creek Estate Winery
House of Rose
Jackson Triggs Vintners
Mission Hill Vineyards
St. Hubertus Estate Winery
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Wild Goose Vineyards
The Burrowing Owl
Carriage House Wines
Gray Monk Estate Winery
Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards
Hillside Cellers Winery
Kettle Valley Winery
Lake Breeze Vineyards
Quails Gate Estate Winery
Stag's Hollow Winery and
Summerhill Estate Winery