British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is the hub for western Canada’s growing wine industry, with nearly 200 vineyards and wineries dotting its sun-baked hills. Kelowna, the region’s largest city, sprawls along the shores of Okanagan Lake and offers all the services you need for a wine-touring holiday.
In downtown Kelowna, a good place to start your explorations is at the Laurel Packinghouse Building, which houses two museums. At the British Columbia Wine Museum – part exhibition space and part wine store – you can learn about the Okanagan wineries and the types of wines you’ll sample as you visit local producers. The Okanagan has long been BC’s main fruit-growing region, too, a history that’s on view at the British Columbia Orchard Industry Museum. The Kelowna Art Gallery, a small contemporary art museum nearby, is also worth a visit.
Kelowna’s wineries surround the city on both sides of Okanagan Lake. Mission Hill and Quails’ Gate are among the largest winemakers on the west side of the lake, while Cedar Creek, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, and Tantalus Vineyards draw visitors to its eastern bank. The Kelowna area is home to craft brewers and micro-distilleries that welcome visitors as well.
Kelowna is 245 miles (390 kilometers) northeast of Vancouver. By car, allow about four and a half hours; you can also fly from Vancouver in under an hour. You’ll find plenty of hotels, resorts, and B&Bs in and around Kelowna.
The Okanagan region and its wineries are too spread out to explore without transportation. If you don’t have a car (and a designated driver), plan to take a wine tour, like the 6.5-hour Wine, Beer, Cider and Spirits Tour of Kelowna
, which includes tastings and tours at several area wineries, a local brewery, and an artisan distillery.