Some years ago I recall asking my Canadian mother about Canadian wines. She had lived outside of Canada for many years but on returning to Canada had become a born again Canadian – everything about Canada was wonderful. No criticisms were tolerated.
However, my question about Canadian wines prompted my mother to pucker her mouth and wince. These turned out to be characteristic expressions that you could almost guarantee seeing on the faces of anyone drinking Canadian wines.
Thankfully things have changed a lot. I don’t know about wines in other parts of Canada, but in BC our wines have been winning awards and drawing attention internationally. So it seemed that it was our duty, as intrepid reporters, to investigate the state of BC wines.
And what better place to do it than the Okanagan valley. Sue and I went over to Kelowna for a few days and managed to squeeze a few winery visits into our time there. In fact, as Linda, our partner there, told us most people end up going on winery tours.
We started out around Kelowna where there are at least 16 wineries. These include Mission Hill (nice tour) and Quails Gate. Both of these have fine dining restaurants open both for lunch and dinner. Tip: if you are planning to eat at these places, make a reservation.
Kelowna is not the only place with vineyards. Driving south through Peachland and Summerland you see signs for a few wineries (helpfully signposted from the highway). We went to Penticton at the south end of Okanagan Lake and then up the eastern edges of the lake towards Naramata. The road up to Naramata was a wine mecca it seemed. Everywhere you looked, whether down toward the lake or up the hill sides, there were vines. The occasional fruit trees broke up the scene.
We had lunch at Lake Breeze winery. The patio was a lovely place to sit and enjoy the food. The menu included suggested wine pairings – which is the whole point of this exercise right? – and these worked well. I enjoyed their Pinot Blanc very much and Sue had the Ehrenfelser. Not a wine variety we’d tried before – but this is the whole point right?
We can recommend the Okanagan. But you probably knew that. It is a destination for many people looking for the lifestyle. Recreational real estate has been one of the most buoyant of markets and the Okanagan has been on a building boom. Wherever we drove, it seemed there were new resorts or condo developments on offer. I thought that this might indicate an over-supply, but from what I gather demand is still high and though sales are no longer at their red hot level, they are still strong. From our visit I can certainly see why.