Kelowna is one of the most beautiful cities in BC, if not in all of Canada - it sits on the Okanagan Lake in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, and is dotted with parks, forest, mountains and vineyards. A lot of vineyards. Kelowna has its own (albeit tiny) airport so it's perfect for a quick getaway, or can be added on to a trip from elsewhere on the west coast of Canada. The drive from Vancouver is roughly 4.5 hours, and will take you through the super scenic Coquihalla Highway. From Banff, the drive will take you 5.5 hours. The only problem with a place jam-packed with amazing vineyards and wineries is narrowing down which ones to visit on a tight schedule (there are worse problems to be had). Regardless, read on for my guide to Kelowna's must-see wineries.
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With 40+ wineries at your disposal, your best bet for a day out wine tasting in Kelowna is to stick to one area to avoid wasting time driving around. Although they can be divided into smaller "sub-areas," Kelowna is largely divided into West and East Kelowna, with each bank straddling the Okanagan Lake. Although not technically in Kelowna, a drive further down the Okanagan Lake will bring you to Penticton, another area that's home to beautiful wineries worst visiting. If you've got a couple days on your hands, take the time to visit each of the different areas. We were lucky enough to have our good friend, an expert, local Kelowna-er show us around for several days, and we're pretty sure these spots are the best of the best.
West Kelowna is home to some of the most renowned wineries - if you only have one day (or even just a couple hours), this area is probably your best bet. You'll get to taste a lot of great wine and soak in beautiful views over the Okanagan.
1. MISSION HILL
Mission Hill is probably the most famous winery in the area, with sprawling grounds & bottles that can be found in liquor stores across Canada. The grounds are perfectly manicured, and the tasting room is elegant and super professionally run. Keep in mind this place is very popular, so expect crowds if you're visiting during peak season. If your plan is to visit just a couple wineries, I would ensure this one is on your list!
Mission Hill offers a variety of different tasting experiences, starting at $25 per person for a half hour seated tasting, and going all the way up to $150. Tastings up at the counter are less expensive and more casual.
2. QUAIL'S GATE
Just a 3 minute drive or 22 minute walk from Mission Hill, you can find Quail's Gate - this family-owned winery offers some of the most breathtaking views in my opinion, and you get the impression right away that the staff really know their wine (well at least better than I do, as a not-completely-reformed boxed wine drinker). Quail's Gate is also home to a restaurant, should you want to soak up all the wine you've consumed, paired with a beautiful view. Given its proximity to Mission Hill, this is a natural second winery to visit. Make sure you go for a wander around the grounds once you've had your tasting up at the counter. The vineyards are very accessible from the tasting house!
3. THE HATCH
All these wineries did us a favour in plunking down one beside the other! Just a 10 minute walk down the road is the hatch, a winery that feels more like a brewery (in the best way possible). It's super casual and welcoming and has a little edge/sense of humour to it - very different to the other wineries in the area! The interior is also worlds' away from its neighbour, Mission Hill. See below :)
4. INDIGENOUS WORLD WINERY
I love the story and substance behind this winery - the owners of Indigenous World Winery are descendants of the Okanagan Syilx people, the Indigenous first peoples of the Okanagan Valley, and focus their efforts on bringing together the valley's terroir and the Indigenous people's stewardship of the land on which their grapes are now grown. The wines are delicious and the grounds are beautiful too. A great winery to round out a perfect day on Kelowna's west bank.
Although the wineries in east Kelowna tend to be a little lower-key than their west counterparts, they are no less gorgeous! Head to the east bank for wineries that feel a little less commercial and to take a break from plain-jane wine (vodka tasting anyone?)
5. KITSCH WINES
This has got to the coolest winery in the Okanagan. The couple behind Kitsch sold a successful underwear brand, and then decided to take up wine-making. If that's not a unique enough story, the tasting room is literally in the garage of a mansion, and the background music is likely to be hip-hop.
For something a little more unconventional, make sure to stop here. I don't quite get it, but I love it.
6. TANTALUS VINEYARDS
These guys have a an airy, gallery-style tasting room that lets all the sun shine in. Their tastings will set you back $10 (in which you'll get to sample 5 different wines), and this will give you $5 off the purchase of any bottle in-person. Stop here after Kitsch, on your way to Summerhill!
7. SUMMERHILL PYRAMID WINERY
Summerhill is Kelowna's go-to for organic wine, and it's an absolutely beautiful spot (why do I feel like I'm repeating myself? Why is everything beautiful in Kelowna?) This winery offers tastings at $10 a person (PSA: this fee is waived with purchase), in which you'll learn more about their story and why organic is best. Summerhill is a great place to start your east Kelowna wine tour, and there's a bus stop right outside should you prefer to ditch the car.
8. MEADOW VISTA HONEY WINES
This cute little winery is located on a five and a half acre farm, and is home to 110 hives of honeybees. These residents are super important because Meadow Vista creates mead, or honey wine, as opposed to traditional grape wine. Honey wine is created by fermenting honey with water, and results in a nice, sweet-tasting alcoholic beverage. After your tasting, make sure you pick up a bottle of their sparkling apple cyser to enjoy later :) They've also got a self-guided tour in which you can learn more about Meadow Vista and their bees.
BONUS: OKANAGAN LAVENDER & HERB FARM
Although not a winery, this family-owned lavender farm deserves a visit for its gorgeous views and cute little boutique, selling lavender-infused jellies, syrups and bath products. Check out the back porch outside the boutique (which has the dainty, inviting sofas to sit on) to look out over the lavender fields before perusing their pretty assortment of products.
BONUS #2: FORBIDDEN SPIRITS DISTILLING CO
Taking things up a notch from the lavender farm here.. Forbidden Spirits produces handcrafted spirits from the apples the Kelowna area is known for, and they have their very own orchard from which they source apples! Stop here for a vodka tasting that packs a punch - the price is $10 and includes a delicious cocktail that comes in the daintiest little glass.
If you haven't yet gotten your fill of wineries, head further down the Okanagan Lake to Penticton to check out a few other wineries. Penticton sits in between two lakes, the Okanagan and Skaha lakes, and is made beautiful with its rolling vineyards and sparkling lake views. The drive here from Kelowna takes just under an hour.
9. POPLAR GROVE
This place is absolutely gorgeous and has incredible views - stop by the bar for a wine tasting before heading out to their terrace for a scenic lunch. The tasting will set you back $5, and you'll get to try 5 tasty signature wines.
They've also got little tables positioned out on the grounds should you want to enjoy a casual bottle on-site. The tables are admittedly more comfortable than the barrels.
10. MONSTER VINEYARDS
Just a 5 minute walk dwon the road from Poplar Grove is Monster Vineyards. This fun little place is based around the myth of the Ogopogo, the Okanagan Lake equivalent of the Loch Ness monster. The vibe here is chill and casual - a relaxed wine tasting at Monster Vineyards is the perfect way to chill after lunch at Poplar Grove before heading back to Kelowna.
what to pack.
✧ a little pre-reading to get you feeling like a sommelier
✧ sunscreen - you will burn
✧ refillable water bottle to keep you hydrated between pinot grigio tastings
pin me for later!
Did I miss any of your favourite Okanagan wineries? Let me know in the comments below :)