Regional Maps
Planning your BC Wine Tour
OKANAGAN VALLEY: Traveling south to north
South Okanagan: Oliver & Osoyoos The most southerly region of the Okanagan Valley is an ecological wonder when it comes to grape production and has long been recognized as the Wine Capital of Canada. It comes by that designation honestly, with more than 5,800 acres planted making up half of the total acreage in the province. It also has the highest concentration of wineries - almost 60 between Oliver and Osoyoos. There are various areas where vineyards are plentiful, most notably the Black Sage and Golden Mile benches. The latter was the first sub-geographical indication (sub-GI) recognized by the BC Wine Authority in the province. Located on the western slope of the valley, it is bathed in morning and early afternoon sun, while late day shade cools off the vines and helps the fruit retain its desired acidity. That bench alone is home to almost 800 acres of vineyard. Meanwhile, the Black Sage Bench stretches along the eastern slope and feels the afternoon heat. It is here where many of BC’s most powerful reds are grown. The Oliver/Osoyoos area is as arid as it comes in Canada. That’s because it is in a desert belt – an extension of the Sonoran stretching up from Mexico. Cacti and rattlesnakes were once more at home here than vines. Little would actually grow here if it weren’t for irrigation, which has breathed life into the region and created a mecca for orchards and vineyards. The southernmost point in the valley is the town of Osoyoos, which is located on the shores of the warmest lake in Canada. It’s a border town with easy access to the U.S. At the time of publication, that crossing was still closed to non-essential travelers due to the pandemic
Common varieties grown: Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc Average Daily High Temperature (July): 30C Average Hours of Sunshine: 2039 / Average Annual Rainfall: 250 mm Acreage: 5844 / Soil: Deep sand over bedrock, gravelly loamy sands.
South Okanagan: Okanagan Falls & Kaleden If you’re looking for a great day trip but don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road, the Okanagan Falls – Kaleden area located just south of Penticton features a cluster of fine wineries within a fairly short distance. The area is known for having a unique microclimate and thus Okanagan Falls has been recognized as a Sub-Geographical Indication of the Okanagan Valley. There are terraced slopes and soils can vary significantly here from gravel, to clay to sandy loam, each lending themselves different characteristics in the glass. Many of the wineries have embraced this unique terroir to craft products with individual signatures to critical acclaim. You’ll find organic, biodynamic, rustic and sophisticated wines made here. The area was recognized for its potential back in 1984, when Agriculture Canada and the Association of British Columbia Grape Growers published a book that is still referred to today. It identified the best places for planting vines and sites around Okanagan Falls and Kaleden had some of the best potential. The producers here are proud of their accomplishments and have formed their own association which focuses on marketing and promoting its members in the Skaha Lake and Vaseux Lake area. It describes the region as the “Okanagan’s Well Kept Secret for Wine Lovers.” Despite the growth in the industry, the Okanagan Falls and Kaleden area remains unassuming, free of big city influences. The area is a huge draw for nature lovers as a large selection of wildlife lives in the area, with many unique desert flora and fauna for naturalists to explore. A bird sanctuary is situated at Vaseux Lake just south of the town, complete with an interpretive centre.
Common varieties grown: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer Average Daily High Temperature July: 29C Average Hours of Sunshine: 1925 Average Annual Rainfall: 297 mm Acreage: 530+ Soil types: Terraced slopes with clay, sandy loam, gravel
South Okanagan: Penticton & Naramata The city of Penticton’s name comes from a word in the Syilx language that is commonly translated as “a place to stay forever.” And if you’re a wine enthusiast, you may very well wish to. Penticton is sandwiched between Okanagan and Skaha Lakes with miles of sandy beaches and clear, inviting waters. There are nearby hiking and biking trails, a world-class rock climbing area, known as Skaha Bluffs, and a water channel winding through the city that gives new meaning to the concept of “lazy river” floating. The city itself offers plenty of urban amenities, without losing its small town charm. What’s more, wineries started being established in 1990 and are continuing to crop up along the flats and slopes surrounding the city. There are key areas north of the city, on the east side of Okanagan Lake – an area known as the Naramata Bench – and south on the east side of Skaha Lake, in an area known as the Skaha Bench. There are few places that will tick all the boxes like these ones. Both benches are recognized sub-appellations (sub-GIs) of the Okanagan Valley and offer incredible views, pastoral settings, and unparalleled access to handcrafted wines. Along the Naramata Bench you will find almost 40 producers. It’s a place where a day trip on an electric-assisted bike will leave you spoiled for choice. The Skaha Bench covers a 10-kilometre stretch from the outskirts of Penticton and along the eastern shore of Skaha Lake. It is still developing, but there are five wineries that have established themselves here and expect more to come. Common varieties grown: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc Average Daily High Temperature July: 29C Average Hours of Sunshine: 1923 Average Annual Rainfall: 299 mm Acreage: 800+ Soil: Glacial lake sediments components of silts and fine sands
South Okanagan: Peachland & Summerland
The waterfront communities of Summerland and Peachland have long been synonymous with fun in the sun, as their idyllic settings make them ripe for summertime getaways. Set along the shores of Okanagan Lake and featuring miles of clean sandy beaches, water sport enthusiasts and families have been drawn to the area for decades. Although not densely populated year round, the numbers swell during the warmer months as tourists flock to take in the ample sunshine and enjoy the waterfront, as well as the many walking, hiking and biking trails. The location is also ideal for wine producers who have established wineries in pockets along the slopes and in the hills in and around Summerland and Peachland, most within an easy drive off Highway 97. Enthusiasts will be especially drawn to the “Bottleneck Drive,” a meandering path that winds from the outskirts of Peachland and in and around Summerland. It leads visitors to 19 grape and fruit wineries, cideries, and distilleries. The association provides tour suggestions to make the most of your visit, such as ways to cycle around to the various tastings room; creating a tour based on sparkling wine, art, or ciders and spirits; and dog friendly locations to visit. This area offers a truly grassroots feel and artistic vibe. Expect to be entertained by local musicians, and enjoy the works of artists and crafters. This is an area rich in creativity.
Common varieties grown: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir Average Daily High Temperature (July): 27C Average Hours of Sunshine: 2057 Average Annual Rainfall: 307 mm Acreage: 300+ Soil: Fertile ice age clay and rich volcanic soils.
central Okanagan: West Kelowna, Kelowna & Lake Country The Okanagan Valley and its 180+ wineries continue to captivate the imagination of wine journalists around the globe. And though the Coronavirus all but brought travel to a screeching halt, the Okanagan still found its way into the pages of two major publications in the past year. Both National Geographic and Food & Wine magazine ran feature articles on the Okanagan Valley’s wine region, describing it as stunning, sun-splashed, pristine and home to world-class wineries. The Central Okanagan itself was highly recommended for at least one or two day trips. The National Geographic article said, “Kelowna and surrounds offer the perfect mix of activities for a leisurely day of touring and tastings.” Food & Wine Magazine likened the area to the highly-revered wine regions of Alsace, France and Mosel, Germany. The Central Okanagan is certainly an area to be reckoned with when it comes to wine. It is home to some of the province’s most state-of-the-art wineries featuring impressive architecture, gravity-flow winemaking operations, outdoor ampitheatres, education centres and some of the most critically-acclaimed restaurants. It’s hard to envision the humble wine roots in the Central Okanagan that gave this now impressive industry its start in the province. Father Charles Pandosy first planted grapes at the Oblate Mission in Kelowna in 1859 for the making of sacramental wine. What was produced served its purpose. But nobody expected the wines to set the world on fire. They somehow managed to lead to a wine-growing revolution in BC that nobody saw coming for at least another 100 years. For decades, questionable labrusca varieties dominated the vineyards. It wasn’t until the 1990s that growers began turning their attention to quality and less desirable grape varieties were replaced with vinifera vines. As far as destinations go, the Central Okanagan offers the convenience of an urban setting for all those who crave the city life. Yet the area teems with scenic wonders with Okanagan Lake at its heart and surrounded by mountains and forests. For the hardcore wine enthusiast, there are wineries located in the downtown area and southeast part of Kelowna and several clusters can be found along the lake and in the hills of West Kelowna. Further to the north, Lake Country wineries are making a name for themselves and many of them offer unsurpassed waterfront and mountain views.
Common varieties grown: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay Average Daily High Temperature July: 26-28C Average Hours of Sunshine: 1949 Average Annual Rainfall: 347 mm Acreage: 900+ Soil Type: Sandy loam, clay and limestone
Common Grape Varieties: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Ortega, Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe Average Daily High Temperature (July): 26C Average Hours of Sunshine: 2026 Average Annual Rainfall: 333 mm Soil Type: Gravelly, Sandy loam, limestone and clay
North Okanagan: Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby & Grinrod The North Okanagan area is a scenic, pastoral landscape known for its ranches, rolling hills, waterways and forests. It offers a more tempered climate than the south region, but still features generous, blissful days of sunshine. There is a small collection of producers making grape and fruit wines, meads and ciders around the Vernon, Enderby, Grindrod and Armstrong areas. These tend to be small batch winemakers dedicated to coaxing the best out of each harvest. Visitors can expect an engaging, down to earth experience at a North Okanagan winery. This part of the valley features several small quaint villages that have a strong sense of community and are wholly self-sufficient. The largest urban centre is the city of Vernon, which offers great shopping, dining and entertainment, yet retains that small-town feel. One dazzling attraction in the North Okanagan is Kalamalka Lake, a large body of water on the south side of Vernon, stretching down to Lake Country, where calcium carbonate deposits form sparkling crystals that reflect sunlight, creating breathtaking blue colours in the water from deep navy to vivid aquamarine. There are sandy beaches and stunning rock faces plus a 2,420-acre provincial park. It’s paradise for anyone who appreciates nature. The North Okanagan is home to Silver Star Mountain Resort, which beckons with an all-season playground and offers wine-centred events at different intervals during the year.