Where’s the Okanagan wine valley I keep on referring to?
The Okanagan is located in southern British Columbia, Canada. I currently reside in Kelowna, considered to be the central Okanagan due to its location smack dab in the center of Okanagan Lake. The Okanagan is the second largest wine region in Canada and is, in Murissa’s humble yet biased opinion, the best.
The Okanagan Lake is serpentine in shape and is 135 km in length stretching past Vernon to the north and Penticton to the south.
Nearby there are other smaller lakes that create many microclimates in the valley which then enables wine makers to produce vastly different wines depending on their location in the valley. Primarily, the Okanagan is perfect for producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris but you’ll find plenty of Riesling, Ehrenfelser, Gewurztraminer and ice wines in the north/central while the south produces more Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
You may also assume that it being Canada is quite cold. However, the climate here is unique in that it is cradled at the northern tip of the Great Basin Desert, Canada’s only desert. This creates hot summers reaching upwards of 40˚C (104˚F) and winters at a reasonable -15˚C (5˚F). The Okanagan Valley is famed for its delicious wines and summer activities while the winter is known for the Champagne powder and ice wines.
There are approximately 120 wineries throughout the valley but this number changes each year with new wineries and vineyards being added.
Looking for inspiration? Here are a few Okanagan stories…
Champagne Caves at Sumac Ridge Winery, Summerland (South Okanagan)
Feast of Fields – A roaming feast featuring the best of the Okanagan from restaurants to wineries. Usually takes place on the second to last Sunday of August.
Culinary Championships Weekend – Usually takes place the first weekend of February.
Learn to Cook in Wine Country – Mission Hill’s famed winter culinary theatre courses takes places throughout the winter months typically from November to March.