Though British Columbia has long known, sipped and celebrated its very own vinos, it’s high time the rest of the world sat up and took notice. A recent journey to the Okanagan, including stops at five incredible properties, hit home for us the fact that yes, indeed, the stage is set for B.C. to make a big, bountiful splash on the global winemaking scene—thanks to these Okanagan Valley makers, and so many (near 200!) more. —Noa Nichol
cedarcreek estate winery. Haven’t paid CedarCreek a visit yet, or in a while? Don’t deny yourself a (re)tour, as this breathtaking, internationally renowned hillside estate has undergone a major makeover, been certified organic AND opened a gem of a restaurant that’s seriously ramping up the regional (and beyond—it was recently nominated as one of Canada’s best eateries) food-and-wine scene. A great way to get to know this vineyard’s portfolio (everything from whites to reds to rosés) is to book a Farm and Foraged tour for up to six people that pairs a seated tasting of five global award-winning wines with good food and lively storytelling. Alternately (or better yet, in addition to), try a Home Block restaurant Terroir to Table paired two-course lunch or three-course dinner, during which executive chef Neil Taylor will create for you dishes that truly showcase the best in a corresponding CedarCreek wine. One thing to watch for: the central open restaurant grill, where local orchard wood and CedarCreek’s own wine barrels are burned to create fabulous food, including daily fresh-made focaccia.
liquidity wines. There’s no better place to rise and shine on a clear, blue Okanagan morning than Liquidity Wines, where even early-day sipping (from 11 a.m.) is a good idea. The tasting room overlooks, beyond the edge of an infinity pond, a sparkling scene of terrace-like vineyards and, delightfully, much of the team, including winemaker Alison Moyes, is fiercely female. Recent work done with a soil scientist has helped this winery perfect its internationally acclaimed offerings—particularly its Chardonnay, some of which comes from its very oldest plantings. Try a Taste of Okanagan Falls experience, which includes a guided flight of five single-varietal Liquidity wines while taking in a view that, as far as its beauty goes, can only be described as other-worldly (in the best way).
road 13 vineyards. This from personal experience: posting photos to your social-media channels during a visit to Road 13 guarantees a flurry of likes. In other words: nearly everyone we know is a fan of these iconic wines. However, what you get in the liquor store is but the tip of the ice (wine) berg, making an in-person visit to this “all about the dirt” vineyard a must. Dig in during a Golden Hour Tasting, which kicks off with a welcome splash followed by a flight of three exceptional wines that showcase the quality that can be achieved with the right mix of hard work and good dirt. One thing to watch for: proving that, despite having earned many national and international accolades, Road 13 is still about having fun, you may be treated to a tasty pop-up during your visit. For us it was the Wienery food truck (we caught it on its last day), serving up gourmet hot dogs for a wine-and-wiener win.
checkmate artisanal winery. Yes, everything in this currently-being-redone (read: a strikingly redesigned and renovated tasting room is on the horizon) winery is chess-related—a node to staying five steps ahead of what’s happening on the international wine-making scene. Indeed, awards for its chardonnays and merlots—not to mention, the distinction of having won back-to-back 100-point scores—indicate just how worthy this winery is of playing the global game. Register for an Advantage Experience, and bask in a 45-minute sommelier-guided tasting of a curated set of six CheckMate wines, including four Chardonnays and two Merlots (note: tastings are currently hosted in a transitional tasting lounge, as the winery is being completely rearchitected and rebuilt into a contemporary new facility that, once complete, will be a work of art on its own that will literally glow up on the hillside). One thing to watch for: ask about the story behind the name of a bottle of Bear’s Move Chardonnay.
mission hill family estate. Finally, we come to the crown jewel of Okanagan wine country—so much so that Mission Hill has welcomed to its immaculately groomed grounds the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and attracted, to its past outdoor-concert events, headliners like the Gipsy Kings and David Foster. There’s so much to say about this iconic winery, with its bell tower and open-air amphitheatre, its rolling green vineyards and its role in catapulting the region to the world wine stage—the best way to learn more, immersive-ly speaking, may be to book a Taste of the Estate tour, where a sommelier will take you on a behind-the-scenes exploration of the dramatic underground barrel cellar, blasted out of volcanic rock, where Mission Hill’s wines gently rest and age. Then, it’s on to a private tasting salon for a guided experience devoted to the art of wine pairing, including a sample of estate-grown fare and alongside a lineup of new-release wines. Or, try a wine-paired Harvest Lunch—two seasonal dishes enjoyed next to the winery’s one-of-a-kind Marc Chagall tapestry. One thing to watch for: the Winery Boutique hocks more than just wine. You’ll find one-of-a-kind items in this curated collection of new and vintage goods; we spotted centuries-old Louis Vuitton luggage during our visit that would make the perfect carrying case for a bottle or two.
virtual vino. During these unprecedented times, each of the five wineries mentioned above is now proudly offering group virtual tastings, for a minimum of 20 people, that can be indulged in from your home or office, anywhere in Canada! Simply chose a wine collection, and provide shipping addresses. Wines for the tasting will be couriered, along with tasting notes and prep tips, direct to your guests’ doors. Then log in, sit back and relax as a winery pro leads your online wine tasting session. Find details on your choice winery’s website.