Resting peacefully at the edge of eastern British Columbia lies Okanagan Valley, Canada’s second largest wine producing region. This 250 kilometer valley boasts a variety of distinct sub-regions, each with their own unique soil and climate conditions. With trivia like this it’s not hard to argue why Okanagan Valley is a must-visit wine region. Here are five reasons why wine-appreciators should definitely make this valley part of their British Columbia itinerary.
1. It boasts 60 diverse wine varieties
The well-known varieties of Merlot, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir are all grown in the region. However, the numerous micro-climates provide for a spectrum of sweetness levels including still, sparkling, fortified and dessert wines (such as the striking Canadian Ice Wine). The continental climate also allows for varieties usually reserved for climates that boast more sunshine than Canada.
3. It has a long and rich history
Okanagan Valley has been a wine growing region since 1859. While these historic wineries are no longer in production, Calona Wines was founded in 1931 and remains the longest running winery in British Columbia. It’s located just outside the city of Kelowna – at the base of the historic Knox Mountain – and is an easy winery to locate.
3. It is home to world-famous wine brands and intimate family ventures
While wine aficionados have differing opinions on whether wine is better from a craft maker or a modern manufacturer, BC embraces them all. For a truly unique option, Summerhill Pyramid Winery specialises in wine where the production method mimics that of ancient Egypt – including housing the bottles in a geometrically precise pyramid modelled after the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
4. 173 wineries call Okanagan Valley their home
The one problem with trying to select a wine tour in Okanagan Valley, is that there are that many of them. Thankfully organised tours allow wine-fans to stop by multiple-wineries in the one tour (and no one has to pick straws for designated driver).
5. It is surrounded by spectacular BC scenery
British Columbia is famed for its gorgeous scenery. Whether you visit a winery located on the shore of Lake Okanagan or looking out onto the only desert in Canada, you’ll never sip wine next to a more stunning backdrop.
6. Pop out for a game of golf or horse-riding
It’s not just wineries that Okanagan Valley can offer holiday-makers. The region is home to 40 golf courses, all set among the gorgeous leafy scenes of British Columbia. Horse-riding is also popular and for nature-lovers there are more than 200 lakes for boating or long walks along the shore.
7. You might spot Canada’s Loch Ness Monster
In the depths of Lake Okanagan lurks Ogopogo – Canada’s very own Loch Ness Monster. While not as famous as its Scottish counterpart, more sightings of it have been recorded on camera than Nessie. Let us know if you catch a glimpse of this legendary creature.