With its hundreds of pristine wineries, stunning mountainous backdrop, and long summers, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is arguably Canada’s crown jewel when it comes to sipping and swirling. Drawing wine-loving tourists from around the world, the region is a popular destination in the warmer months, when its vineyards are basked in sun, the roadside food stands are in full swing, and the Okanagan Lake sparkles a soothing shade of blue. But the Okanagan Valley is just as enticing in the winter when a healthy handful of its quality wineries remain open for business for both tasting and shopping. The slower-paced winter months offer just as good of a time as any to discover a new pinot noir, rose, or sparkling favourite in this truly stunning part of the country.
If you’re in the market to sip and swirl the best of the Okanagan Valley region this winter, make a reservation (this is key, especially in COVID-19 times) at one of these 10 year-round wineries.
A popular option year-round,50th Parallel Estate sits on a picturesque 61-acre property on Okanagan Lake and offers an assortment of pinot noirs (including a memorable pinot noir rose) and crisp, fruity whites. Make sure you stay for a meal at the winery’s celebrated fine dining restaurant, Block One.
Overlooking the City of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake, The View Winery offers award-winning cool-climate whites, fruity and spicy reds, and – taking full advantage of an apple orchard – their beloved Wards Cider. Throughout the winter, this spot offers guided snowshoe walks or cross-country skiing through the vineyard, followed by a well-deserved wine tasting (naturally) in the spot’s working cellar.
As one of the region’s most popular wineries, the sprawling and impressively designed Mission Hill Family Estate Winery remains open and bustling in the winter. The landmark and multiple award-winning spot is known for its unique wines cultivated from five distinct growing regions, strong culinary program, cooking classes, and panoramic views of the Okanagan.
The view-filled Stag’s Hollow Winery operates on winter hours throughout the colder months for guests to enjoy its innovative and truly unique wine options. Here, the winemaking process involves sourcing grapes new and old from places like Spain (for its Albariño and Tempranillo) and Italy (for its Dolcetto and Teroldego) that are best suited to the region’s soils and microclimate. This offers wines that are identifiable as being from nowhere else in the world but from the Okanagan Valley. This winery is especially known for its Albarino – a rare (extremely tasty) find in the region.
Gray Monk Estate Winery shines in the scenery department, with stunning lake and vineyard views that can be just as soothing in the winter months. As the Okanagan region’s oldest family-owned and run wineries, Gray Monk offers a large selection of varietals (red, white, sparkling port) at a wide range of price points and a quality onsite restaurant, The Lookout, which is now helmed by a new chef, Chef Grant Momer.
With its sweeping lake views, large portfolio of highly regarded wines (whites, reds, rosés), and shiny new tasting room and farm-focused restaurant, CedarCreek Estate Winery is one of the most popular wineries in Kelowna. Standout wines found on this 50-acre property include the Estate Syrah, the Block 4 Pinot Noir, and the Desert Hills Merlot.
The multi-generational and award-winning Quail’s Gate Estate Winery is another go-to for both locals and visitors. In addition to sipping and swirling Quail’s Gate’s premium wine (pinot noir is arguably the star of the show here), to make a stop here all the more worthwhile, be sure to have a meal at the winery’s all-season, farm-to-table Old Vines Restaurant.
For ultra-premium terroir-centric Okanagan region wine and architectural eye candy (backed by photo-worthy scenery), hit Black Hills Winery. Here, a stunning new Wine Experience Centre is open year-round for tastings. This winery is known for its signature Nota Bene but also features a portfolio of other varietals, best enjoyed via a sampler flight. Notably, Black Hills grows four clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, two clones of Cabernet Franc, and four clones of Merlot
Four generations in the making, Sperling Vineyardsis British Columbia’s oldest heritage vineyard. The family-run winery offers a selection of elegant, certified organic wines. If you have a soft spot for pinot noir, an amber pinos gris, or rieslings, you should definitely check a stop here off your list.
One of the region’s most popular and visited options, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, features 100 percent organic and biodynamic wine and a notable restaurant jam-packed with local and organic goodness. The winery is widely known as Canada’s premier producer of sparkling wine, but its organically grown grape varieties include riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir, gewürztraminer, ehrenfelser and pinot meunier.
Make sure you check online before visiting the wineries listed, as the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic may affect hours and operations. Featured Image: Mission Hill Family Estate