A fall adventure in Southern Okanagan served with a splash of indulgence—is there any better way to spend a few days? The slower pace, wide-open spaces and fewer crowds make this the perfect time of year to get out and explore its many wineries, restaurants and other attractions. Whether you want to indulge in deep reds or sip crisp whites, here are some lesser-known South Okanagan Valley wineries that will help you do it in style. From its rich cabernets to its flavourful pinots, here are just a few boutique properties that just might leave a lasting impression.
The first day begins with a visit to Oliver’s Bartier Bros. Vineyard and Winery, nestled on the Black Sage Terrace. Under a canopy of vines, we sat at a harvest table to experience some of the winery’s top vintages, including its 2020 Cabernet Franc and its refreshingly vibrant 2021 Rose. Hosted by brothers and founders Michael and Don, the combination of a picturesque setting, outstanding wines and charcuterie board made for a perfect start.
Along the pristine shores of Osoyoos Lake, our home for three nights is the idyllic Watermark Beach Resort. The suites are outfitted with fully equipped kitchens, cozy vibe sitting rooms with gas fireplaces, and ultra comfy beds. Catch a spectacular sunset while taking in lake views from your spacious balcony, or head down to the outdoor heated pool with waterslide or the hot tubs. The resort’s also offers a steam rooms, spa, fitness centre, SUP rentals and more.
As the sun started to set, we met at the resort’s upscale 15 Park Bistro. Helmed by executive chef Nick Atkins, our meals were creative, artfully presented and fabulous. With a strong focus on fresh, local ingredients, understated elegance, excellent wines, commitment to sustainable seafood, and an unparalleled location, 15 Park Bistro delivered on all levels.
The following day we explored the Similkameen Valley. Dubbed the home to the Fruit Stand Capital of Canada and the Organic Farming Capital of Canada, our first stop was Klippers Organics for a farm visit and chef’s harvest lunch at Row Fourteen. As we look out on the Valley’s rolling hillsides, owner/farmer Kevin Klippenstein gave us a tour of the 60-acres certified organic farm. Then, it was off to Row Fourteen, where executive chef Derek Gray, whose resume includes head chef at Vancouver’s Osteria Savio Volpe, showcased cuisine from the earth. Opened in 2019, the farm’s organic fruits and vegetables are harvested at peak freshness before being beautifully plated onto our table and in our glasses. Yes, they also produce 10 outstanding Untangled Craft Ciders, which paired superbly with the farm-forward lunch menu, to create an all-around delightful gastronomic experience.
The, it was off to Clos du Soleil Winery, a boutique winery an on the Upper Bench; one which has made its name for its stunning Bordeaux style wines. Sitting in the barrel room overlooking sweeping mountainside and vineyard vistas, we sampled some of the winery’s perennial favourites, including two that I came home with, a 2018 Estate Reserve Red and 2019 Signature red. They have 10 wines in their portfolio, which includes an earthy, tart 2020 Malbec Rosé and a Sauternes-style dessert wine.
Before long, we traveled to Keremeos to a Swiss family-run micro-winery, Corcelettes Estate Winery. Sitting on 150 acres, we feasedt our eyes on jaw-dropping views of the rolling hills covered in vines and fruit trees. Named Top 10 Small Wineries in 2018 and 2019, National Wine Awards of Canada, as well at Top 10 overall in Canada and Top 10 BC Wineries 2019, we discovered some remarkable wines, including its 2020 Cabernet Franc, 2020 Meritage before sampling its signature 2020 Talus.
We dined at one of the region’s top destination wineries, Phantom Creek Estates. Flanked by two statuesque winged angels, we entered the magnificent building, which includes a multi-level winery with 270-degree panoramic view of the valley, an indoor/outdoor lounge, marble sculptures, extravagantly elegant barrel room and VIP tasting room. Surrounded by such splendor, we enjoyed chef Alessa Valdez’s exquisite five-course dinner paired with some equally impressive wines.
The next morning, we were off to one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions—Oliver’s Covert Farms Family Estate. This fourth-generation organic farm and award-winning winery is a must. We hopped on its iconic cherry-red ’52 Mercury truck for a private tour throughout its 650-acre regenerative farm and vineyards, taking in the breathtaking landscapes, while snapping photos of its resident Scottish Highland horned cows, and to pick fresh strawberries. Afterwards, we made our way back to the rustic outdoor patio to taste 100 per cent estate grown wine varietals, while noshing on a local charcuterie with artisanal cheeses enhanced by seasonal farm-fresh vegetables and edible flowers.
Our wine journey ended with a stop at District Wine Village, home to 13 wineries, one craft brewery, one distillery, the Trading Post restaurant and a multi-purpose Amphitheatre. The first of its kind in Canada, this circular village, with its contemporary one-of-a-kind buildings, is as much a feast for your eyes as it is for your wine palette. The village is home to newbies like Gneiss Wines, as well as established ones, such as Aboriginal owned NK’Mip Cellars.
More than much more than just a picturesque spot to sample wines: Step back in time at Keremeos’ historic The Grist Mill and Gardens Provincial Heritage Site. We ventured along the expansive grounds of Western Canada’s only working 1877 waterwheel-powered flour mill’s beautiful gardens. Munching on apples from its heirloom apple orchard, guide Chris Mathieson took us on a journey through Instagram worthy gardens and historic buildings. —Michelle Hopkins