Whether you’re a seasoned visitor of Okanagan wineries, or you are simply road-trip itchin’ and need some wine-focused guidance, here is my list of must-see wineries that boast British Columbia’s top sips, nibbles, views, and tasting rooms.
Of the dozens of wineries we’ve visited over the many years of visiting the beautiful Okanagan Valley, my top picks for across the board, fabulous wines are Tinhorn Creek, Gehringer Brothers, Hester Creek, Nk’Mip, and Burrowing Owl, but there are also many great wines elsewhere.
These wines are consistently very good, and great examples of the varietals and blends.
So what do the wines taste like? In a word—excellent.
On a hillside overlooking vineyards, sagebrush, and the old gold mining creek that is its namesake, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is one of the best known from the region. Its roster of award-winning wines is impressive.
The social epicenter of the South Okanagan, Tinhorn Creek puts their spectacular winery to use year round, including self-guided tours, private tours and tastings, a renowned restaurant (Miradoro), an open-door policy during harvest to come see their winemaking in action, and most sensationally, their Canadian Concert Series.
If you love good wines that sell for a song, Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery should be a destination. Brothers Walter and Gordon Gehringer run the 25,000-case winery on a steep hillside along the Golden Mile Bench south of Oliver, making 20 different wines every year.
Gehringer Brothers has won so many awards and medals that there’s no longer room to display new ones on the walls of its tasting room on the Golden Mile Bench. This family owned and operated winery wears the crown as “King of the Platinum” as a result of Wine Press Northwest magazine’s annual Platinum Judging that determines the best of wines from the Northwest.
Hester Creek Estate Winery sprawls across 95 acres of the bountiful Golden Mile region south of Oliver, and boasts some of the area’s oldest vines. A green and shaded patio is perfect for a picnic and a bottle of wine. The tasting room is a work of art in its own right, as well as the wide variety of wines available for sampling.
Hester Creek added six old world Mediterranean-style guest houses that overlook the vineyards and valley. And, Terrafina restaurant continues its Mediterranean theme—and the kitchen has added another unique component: small on-site cooking classes with acclaimed chefs.
Nk’Mip Cellars may be the most unique winery you will ever have the pleasure to visit. It’s the first aboriginal-owned and-operated winery in North America, and a flagship property of the Osoyoos Indian Band—a member of the Okanagan Nation.
Nestled in their vineyard overlooking the town of Osoyoos, the Cellars offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding hills and mountains.
Nk’Mip’s top tier is the Qwam Qwmt series (pronounced kw-em kw-empt) which in the Okanagan language means “achieving excellence.”
Resembling a cross between a castle and a pueblo, Burrowing Owl winery rises from the sandy southern end of the Okanagan on some of the most coveted grape-growing land in the valley. The venue is gorgeous; set among rolling silver-brown hills and green vines.
Eleven guest rooms, an 80-foot outdoor pool, a superb restaurant with glorious views of a 138-acre vineyard, and a strong environmental ethic: what’s not to like about one of the South Okanagan’s most celebrated wineries?
Note: Please remember to check tasting room hours of operation and if you like what you taste, buy their wine!
Taste your way through the Okanagan. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Where to Stay: Desert Gem RV Resort, Oliver; NK’mip RV Park and Campground, Osoyoos; Walton’s Lakefront RV Resort, Osoyoos
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, I’m finding enjoyment in things that stop time. Just the simple act of tasting a glass of wine is its own event.
―David Hyde Pierce