The Okanagan Valley is British Columbia’s oldest and primary grape-growing region. Distinct microclimates occur throughout the valley, from the hot and sandy desert soils in the southern valley to the cooler vineyard sites in the north, with their deep topsoil and clay.
During the past two decades, the region has gone from having a dozen wineries to more than one hundred, many of them winning top international awards.
The top white varietals include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling with some grapes being left to freeze on the vine for the region’s famed ice wines. These are concentrated, sweet dessert wines often served in chocolate shot glasses.
Among the reds, expect outstanding Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Marechal Foch, and Syrah.
New vineyards are popping up like the tasty mushrooms that the locals tell us can be found in the hills, and old wineries are getting spruced up and expanded. Combined with their ever-increasing depth of knowledge and experience, Okanagan wineries continue to drive quality forward with every new vintage. That tremendous momentum is what we experienced on our most recent visit in June.
I breathe in deeply. I’m back in the Sunny Okanagan, ready to rekindle my connection to the place of my childhood—a place that draws me back time and again.
We were in the Okanagan to present at the 13th Annual RV Owners Lifestyle Seminars held annually at Okanagan College in Kelowna, to visit with family and friends in Penticton and Kelowna, and for annual service and to check out new motorhome models at Midtown RV in Penticton.
In between we found time to wine-taste and make purchases at some of our favorite wineries— Quail’s Gate in West Kelowna; Mission Hill in Westbank; Hillside and Lang Vineyards on the Naramata Bench; Tinhorn Creek, Burrowing Owl, and Hester Creek *along Oliver’s Miracle Mile; and NK’mip (pronounced ‘Ink-a-meep’) Cellars, North America’s first aboriginal owned and operated winery in Osoyoos.
They clearly exceeded our grape expectations.
As our celebration of the Okanagan Wine Country came to a close, we wished it would never end. It is our plan to be back in 2011 for the 14th Annual RV Owners Lifestyle Seminars (June 24-27), and again visit with family and friends—and continue our on-going love affair with the “Napa of the North”.
That decided, we pop Willie in the CD player and hum “On the Road Again” as we start our journey back home to Edmonton.
Let’s Go RVing! Moss is starting to grow on my non-rolling stone! It is definitely time to get back in the RV and out on the open road.