The Okanagan is home to over 200 vineyards. It’s a literal paradise for wine lovers—but you already knew that. With summer’s arrival just around the corner (finally!), we know you’ve got vino on your mind. That definitely includes scoping out some sweet new spots at which you can enjoy your beloved ruby or golden-tinted nectar. To make it easier, we’ve put together a list of our favourite Okanagan and Summerland Wineries, with some tips of making the most out of your tour!
Making the Most of Your Wine Tour
We’ve been on a wine tour or two ourselves, both organized and self-directed. Below are a few pro-tips we’ve come up with over the years.
- Visit mid-summer. The colours and warmth of the Okanagan are more impressive as the wine season closes in on summer.
- Get an early start. We suggest visiting vineyards earlier in the day wherever possible. (These beauties get busy in the afternoon!)
- Less is more. Don’t visit more than three wineries per day. That’ll give your palate time to savour every flavour. It’ll also allow you to enjoy each vineyard’s unique perks.
- Take a stroll. Many estates have spectacular architecture you’ll regret not having visited.
Wine tours are also a great opportunity to ask all the menial questions you’ve always been curious about—and to ask them while enjoying a beautiful glass of Pinot Noir is just education at its pique.
Finally, consider joining your favourite vineyard’s wine club. Most have one. This is a great opportunity to savour unique local wines all year round. Heaven’s Gate Winery’s wine club offers two membership options. Both include exclusive wines, discounts, and free tastings.
Discovering Bottleneck Drive
The Okanagan is big, which is why we thought we’d help narrow down your search by sticking to Summerland’s vivacious Bottleneck Drive. This remarkable region is, at least according to our admittedly biased yet well informed opinion, absolutely one-of-a-kind. This fine wine region is stunning, luscious, and welcoming. Oh, and it happens to be dotted with a staggering number of awards.
5 Must-See Vineyards
Vineyards line the hills of Bottleneck Drive, each overlooking Okanagan Lake. They employ personalities that cherish the world of wine, which is to say that none of your questions will be left unanswered. None of its vineyards will disappoint you, but we do have a few places that we go back to time and time again.
Sumac Ridge Estate Winery
BC folks are certainly familiar with Sumac Ridge’s affordable yet sophisticated selection of wines—let’s face it, we deserve locally produced wine for Friday night dinner without having to break the bank. Sumac Ridge is the oldest operating vineyard in the province. All grapes are grown on-site and carefully planted as to capitalize on the land’s rich soil and close relationship with the sun.
Daily tastings are available upon reservation. Plus, they include a gorgeous cheese board. The estate hosts a monthly dinner series, which features Sumac Ridge wines and seasonally focused ingredients.
Lunessence Winery & Vineyard
Lunessence cares deeply and passionately about the land that so generously births its grapes. The vineyard received its organic certification in 2020. This was part of a tireless effort to preserve the land’s natural resources. Lunessence is committed to crafting fine and delicate wines, making it the perfect destination for those seeking a pleasant, peaceful, and quintessential tasting experience.
Daily tastings are available upon reservation. You may take advantage of the winery’s charcuterie plate or enjoy a self-curated picnic.
Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
On a mellow slope alongside Okanagan Lake, the Fitzpatrick family’s vineyards are coloured with a rich history that dates back to the 1940s. That’s the secret: patience and passion. The secluded waterfront location offers a nanoclimate that’s unique to the vineyards, which are renowned for their beautiful sparkling wines.
Daily tastings are available. They are informative and lighthearted, and they’ll leave you in awe of the family’s journey.
Okanagan Crush Pad
Okanagan Crush Pad is one of Canada’s most celebrated wineries, and it happens to be located on our very own Bottleneck Drive. Views from the elevated patio are stunning and, with four labels to its name, your choices will be far from limited. Don’t miss your chance to visit the winery’s state of the art facilities. Daily tastings are available.
Heaven’s Gate Estate Winery
Our personal favourite, naturally, Heaven’s Gate is a paradise draped in sun and vines. The winery offers a boutique selection of bold, blackberry and black cherry-flavoured Merlot, vanilla-tinted Gamay Noir, and a small array of wines crafted for the finest of palates.
Nearby volcanic soils and land that was previously used to grow peaches gives Heaven’s Gate an absolutely distinguished taste. Winemaker Tyson Felt takes great pride in his selection of wines and finds that hosting wine tastings and events make his job most worthwhile.
If you’re looking for a fantastic experience featuring wine and charismatic staff, Heaven’s Gate is a stop you won’t want to miss. Daily tastings are available upon reservation.
Now that you have a few places on your must-see list, we’ll help you answer the important question: how do you get around?
If you don’t have the good fortune of having a DD in your pack, we suggest hopping aboard one of the many well executed wine tours in the area. Bare Wine Tours offer tours throughout the Okanagan. The company’s choice of vineyards in the Summerland area varies daily, but always includes some of the region’s finest vineyards, namely those listed in our top five.
Distinctly Kelowna Tours and Grape Escapes Wine Tour guides its guests throughout the best vineyards and wineries of Bottleneck Drive. They also pay a special homage to the land’s unique history and the area’s impeccable grape-growing climate.
Heaven’s Gate Winery
Heaven’s Gate Winery is one of the most unique Summerland Wineries. It has the added advantage of being a boutique vineyard, making its selection limited, meticulously crafted, and rare. The peaches that previously grew on the land are now long gone, yet they can’t help themselves from seeping through the vines that birth the vineyard’s impressive grapes.