Before preparing my road trip through Western Canada (which I described in my last blog post), I had never heard of Okanagan Valley, and yet it’s overflowing with assets. Nicknamed “the Napa of the North,” Okanagan presents a combination of magnificent vineyards, charming accommodations, and endless lakeside vistas. Needless to say, the days I spent there were pure bliss!
The region, which stretches out for more than 180 km (110 miles) between Vancouver and Alberta, is well-known for its numerous vineyards and the excellent wines they produce. When I say numerous, it’s no exaggeration; today there are more than 160 vineyards to explore in the area, up from only 17 in the 1990s. With its sunny climate, magnificent viewing points overlooking the lakes, and abundance of things to do (including visiting wineries), Okanagan is the ideal place to kick back and relax for a few days.
A trip to the vineyards
It’s no secret that many of Okanagan’s tourists come to the valley to visit the superb vineyards and sample the wine. Everything is well-organized; you can either opt for a “wine tour” which takes you to visit several wine-growing estates, or you can travel using your own means, as we did! This allowed us to choose the wineries we wanted to see and plan activities at our own pace!
We explored our first vineyard, Quail’s Gate, in the late morning. It’s one of the most frequented and best-known winemakers in the valley. At their restaurant Old Vines, one of the best in the region, we enjoyed our lunch in the outside seating area, overlooking the grapevines and the lake in the distance.
After our extended meal, it was time to survey the domain for an hour to explore the fascinating history of this vineyard which has been passed from generation to generation. The tour ended with a tasting of four different wines, accompanied by little nibbles to enhance the flavors.
The second winery which captured my attention was Mission Hill. With its original architecture, its artworks dispersed throughout the property (reminding me very much of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, which I visited when staying at Les Sources de Caudalie Hotel, reviewed in this post), and its fantastic boutique full of foodie-friendly products, this wine domain is a must-see!
I also heard very positive feedback about Summerhill Pyramid and the Burrowing Owl Estate, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to visit.
Relaxing at a charming guesthouse
Another very important factor on our trip to Okanagan Valley was finding a lovely place to stay for a few days.
We selected a luxury B&B a few minutes from the town of Penticton, named the E’Laysa Guesthouse and Vineyard Retreat. In this large estate settled amid grapevines, you can bask in the comfort of a room in the hotel, but also enjoy the beauty of the property, full of little paradises where you can lazily pass the time away.
Our room, the “Luxury Valley View,” had both a fabulous rustic style and a jacuzzi bath for a complete little cocoon.
In the morning we took our homemade breakfast outside (absolutely delicious), everything prepared by the charming guesthouse hostess, who contributed greatly to our pleasant stay in this idyllic setting.
I’ll let you be the judge with these photos!
If my story has inspired you, make sure to check out Okanagan Valley: you won’t be disappointed! There are plenty of things to do in the region; you could easily be constantly entertained for an entire week here! As for the vineyards, even if you’re not a wine connoisseur, you’ll enjoy yourself; these beautiful wine domains are very pleasant to visit! In short, I fell in love with this winemaking region and I hope that you’ll have the chance to explore it yourself someday!
- Quail’s Gate: several tours are available depending on the season. We chose the “Best of Boucherie” tour which lasted for an hour.
- Old Vines Restaurant (at Quail’s Gate): make sure you reserve a table online. Open for lunch and dinner. Entrees at lunch go for $25 to $35 and at dinnertime for $35 to $75.
- Mission Hill
- E’Laysa Guesthouse: Rooms start at $170 in the off season; ours was $270 at the end of June (breakfast included).