Each time I spend a few days in BC’s wine country, I return to Vancouver with a refreshed perspective and appreciation for the bounty of local food and wine we have at our fingertips. This past BC Day long weekend, I had the delight of exploring some of what the Similkameen and South Okanagan Valley have to offer.
After two full days jam packed with activities, I knew I’d only scratched the surface. Here’s a quick snapshot of my ideal one day itinerary, including a few of BC’s small wineries that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Wine Stop #1 – Orofino Winery
This small family owned and operated winery is easily accessed off of the Crowsnest Highway in the small town of Cawston. You’ll likely be greeted and served in the tasting room by owners John and Virginia Webber – one of the benefits of visiting a small, family run winery. Be sure to snatch up a bottle of their flagship red “Beleza” and their Pinot Noir…if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on it.
Wine Stop #2 – Robin Ridge Winery
Another worth-while stop on your way through town is Robin Ridge Winery. The wines are as charming and honest as the picturesque setting. The winery has become known for its beautifully balanced Gamay (a light bodied red served best when lightly chilled) which definitely deserves a spot in the air conditioned trunk of your car.
Fruit Pillage – Bear’s Farm Fresh Market
It’d be a crime not to stop and fill up on the seasonal fruits and veggies that line highway fruit stands all throughout the valley. Bear’s Farm Fresh Market is always a great place to start and It’s right along the highway just north of Keremeos.
Wine Stop #3 – Seven Stone’s Winery
This is a small producer who makes one of my favorite Cabernet Franc’s in BC as well as a noteworthy Pinot Noir. The Seven Stones tasting room is located at 1143 Highway 3, just 10 minutes past Cawston and enroute to Osoyoos.
Osoyoos / Oliver
Splash’n Dash – Stand Up Paddleboarding at Sandy Beach
I couldn’t help but throw this in here because a dip in Osoyoos Lake is essential on a hot Okanagan day. Head down to the Starlight Marina where they’ll set you up with paddle board rentals. It’s easier than it looks and gives you a refreshing perspective of the stunning backdrop around you.
Picnic Lunch – Covert Organic Farms, Country Market
Who doesn’t love a good summer picnic? Covert Farms is a splendid spot to set your-self up with tasty, local, organic fare and enjoy a casual outdoor lunch. While you’re there be sure to taste through their line-up of organic wines.
Wine Stop #4 – Stoneboat Vineyards
Stoneboat is quickly becoming one of my favorite BC wineries. They’re located in the South Okanagan’s Lower Black Sage Bench and specialize in small lots of premium “Pinot varietals”. Their Pinotage is as delicious as it is unique and their Pinot Gris is somewhat of a benchmark in the valley.
Wine Stop #5 – Tinhorn Creek
A much larger scale and older producer than the others mentioned on this list, Tinhorn Creek Winery has one of the best views out over the valley. Winemaker and CEO Sandra Oldfield is an active advocate for practicing sustainable farming and is bottling some very impressive wines, always with fair price tags. The 2008 Oldfield Series Pinot Noir is my new favorite of the current reds on release.
Dining & Wining – Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek
Miradoro is a partnership between Vancouver’s longest standing Frenchrestaurant “Le Gavroch” and Tinhorn Creek Winery. Executive Chef, Jeff Van Geesthighlights the flavors of the Okanagan Valley through his farm to table focused menu and to complement the food, you can venture into a Library Collection of various Tinhorn Creek back vintages selected by General Manager & Sommelier Justin McAuliffe. The 1998 Tinhorn Creek Pinot Noir is still astonishingly full of life!
This post was written by @HintsofHawthorn. Tweet at Sommelier Emily Walker with all your wine-related questions.