Beautiful British Columbia, visit the Okanagan Wine Region.
The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is arguably the country’s most famous wine-producing region. We offer visitors interested in wine the chance to try Ice Wine and Pinot Noir.
Are you planning a trip to the Okanagan?
- Many major airlines fly directly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Kelowna BC and then drive across scenic British Columbia.
- Many people fly into Calgary International Airport in Alberta and drive across the rocky mountains to the Okanagan Valley, stopping in Banff Alberta.
- Alternatively, you may fly into Kelowna Airport (YLW) with Sunwing or WestJet airlines based in the Okanagan.
Okanagan Valley Wine Country
The Okanagan Valley is one of Canada’s hottest locations. It is for this reason, in particular, that wine production has received considerable attention in recent years. The Okanagan is warm, rather dry and sunny, making it excellent for producing a range of grape varietals.
The entire region runs around 250 kilometres north to south and somewhat overlaps the US border on the southern end. It is a diversified landscape with mountains, rivers, lakes, and especially arid, desert-like places.
The Okanagan Valley truly has something to offer everyone. In the summer, you may enjoy wine tasting, scenic hiking, lakeshore beaches, and a variety of water activities. It’s a terrific place to go skiing or snowboarding in the winter. Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, and Osoyoos are the main towns in the region, with Kelowna being the largest. Kelowna has an international airport.
Okanagan Valley Grape Varieties
We are the second biggest Canadian wine area and home to over 89 percent of all grape farming in BC. There are presently over 200 licenced wineries throughout the province.
We have good climate to the soil to the elevation diversity (Terroir) and micro-climates common across the area. This allows vintners to cultivate a diverse range of grape types and create wine in a diverse range of styles. Okanagan wine types include dry, off-dry, medium, sweet, fortified, and ice wine, which is possibly Canada’s most notable style.
We grow over 60 different types of grapes in the Okanagan Valley. We are best known for its Pinot Noir and aromatic grape farming, as well as its Ice Wine. Surprisingly, vintners are beginning to realize the potential for some Italian, German, and Spanish grape types to thrive.
This is a list of some of the most popular grape types may be seen below..
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Gris
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cabernet Franc
Okanagan Ice Wine
Ice Wine is a distinct type of wine that is most often made from cool-climate Riesling grapes. While the majority of grapes in the Okanagan Valley are harvested in September or early October. Farmers in the region may choose to leave grapes on the vine as late as December and January. As a result, the grapes continue to mature, increasing their sugar content as the acidity gradually fades. While the area continues to get colder, the remaining water content within the grapes freezes. This leaves only the extremely concentrated sugar juice as liquid. After that, the grapes are crushed while frozen this releases the concentrated grape juice. Water is still in crystalline form, resulting in rich, sweet dessert wines.
Distinct regions of the Okanagan Valley
As previously said, the Okanagan Valley is quite diverse in terms of terroir and microclimates. The region has yet to identify official sub-appellations, however there are now seven viticultural sub-regions.
Kelowna and the North Okanagan
Here we are renowned for cool-climate grape types like Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris (Grigio), Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Chardonnay. The sandy and clay-based surface type of soil atop calcareous (limestone) make the grapes work harder for their nutrition. The result is smaller berries with thick skins and complex juice.
West Kelowna and Mount Boucherie
This one-of-a-kind place, and one of the least-known in Okanagan, is unusual because of the volcanic soil that abounds here. This type of soil aids in the production of refined, nuanced wines. Mount Boucherie is reasonably simple to reach, being just around 20 kilometres from downtown Kelowna. Pinot Noir and Riesling are the most well-known grapes in this region. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also doing well here.
Summerland is a lovely area that is still being developed. See a wonderful view of Okanagan Lake as well as the sandy coastlines on the East side of Naramata. It is just across from Naramata. Some of the most notable wine types and wine styles produced here are Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Rosé.
Naramata lies virtually immediately across the lake from Summerland, while Penticton is to the south. The vines grow on rolling slopes here are by to the lake, fall in Naramata and Penticton and is slightly milder.. In this region, the most well-known wines are Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Merlot.
The Okanagan Falls area is much farther south than Penticton, running down the southern end of Skaha Lake. The soil here is very varied, and this region is home to some of BC’s most fragrant varietals. Some vineyards are terraced and situated on hills. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Noir are just a few of the grape varietals available.
Further south, around Oliver and the Golden Mile, wine production is dominated by Merlot, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer. It is slightly warmer than the other Northern areas and the soil here is gravel, clay, and sand, allowing water to drain quickly. This, in turn, contributes to the production of concentrated and complex wines.
Osoyoos-Black Sage Bench
Close to the US border, Black Sage and Osoyoos provide wine connoisseurs Canada’s take on Bordeaux-style red wines. I find the soil is well-drained and mostly sandy. In addition to the traditional Bordeaux grape types , also Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Chardonnay and Syrah are grown.
Wine Festivals and Events in the Okanagan Valley
There are a variety of wine festivals to enjoy depending on the time of year you intend to visit the valley. Festivals take place all year and are usually seasonal.