The Okanagan’s 8 Most Stunning Wineries

Out list of B.C. wineries that knock it out of the park—architecturally speaking.

January 12, 2017

By Vancouver Magazine

Whether it’s Frank Gehry in Rioja or Herzog and de Meuron in Napa, hotshot architects have gravitated to wineries as reputation-boosting statement buildings. And while dozens of wineries in the Okanagan have jaw-dropping views, these are the eight that have amped up their vineyards with buildings as beautiful as the surroundings.

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1. Mission Hill, Kelowna

Architect: Tom Kundig, 2002

When Anthony von Mandl hired Seattle’s Tom Kundig 20 years ago, he was something of a hidden gem in the architecture world. Now he’s one of the best-known residential architects in North America and his work on Mission Hill—all warm modernism mixed with awe—is the anchor piece of architecture in the entire Valley. Von Mandl has re-engaged Kundig for the new Martin’s Lane winery and he’s rumoured to be redesigning CedarCreek in the coming years, too.

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2. Okanagan Crush Pad, Summerland

Architect: Ted Murray Architect Inc, 2011

There is no principle more classic than “form follows function”, and this custom crush pad didn’t have the luxury of grand public spaces. Co-owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie (a former builder) worked with Ted Murray Architect to create a triumph of utilitarian chic—everything moves, everything can be hosed down, and a visit here offers the chance to see a beautiful showcase of the hard work of making wine.

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3. Terravista, Naramata

Architect: Nick Bevanda, CEI Architecture, 2012

Bob and Senka Tennant grew Black Hills into one of the Valley’s first cult wines, but with their new venture they wanted to keep production small and focused—and Nick Bevanda built them a winery to match. It’s purpose-built and compact but has enough zip, like those Mondrian-esque windows, to excite. (And it cost only $600,000.)

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4. Painted Rock, Skaha Bluffs

Designer: Dominic Unsworth 
Architect: Robert Mackenzie Architect, 2013

Painted Rock has achieved huge success in a relatively short period of time, so it showed amazing restraint to eschew a big flashy tasting room in favour of this model of elegant simplicity. Its gleaming white facade channels Richard Meier and, at a compact 1,700 square feet, it modestly complements the perfect setting of vines that terrace down to Skaha Lake.

*Owner John Skinner’s Painted Rock winery is on the Skaha Bluffs, which means when driving from Penticton you head south to get there, as opposed to north to get to the Naramata Bench wineres (like Terravista). 

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5. Culmina, Oliver

Architect: Cedric Burgers, 2013

Owner and industry legend Don Triggs spared no expense on his new endeavour—the vineyard planting and management is unreal—but for his winery and tasting room, he had Burgers create a more down-to-earth vibe of modern farmhouse, albeit the nicest farmhouse you’ll likely ever see. A mix of clean, modern lines and warm cladding, its low-slung rooflines are set off to the side so as to not dominate the site.


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6. Black Hills Tasting Room, Oliver

Architect: Nick Bevanda, CEI Architecture, 2012

Bevanda’s second entry on this list (we could easily have included his impressive work at Road 13 as well) is a jewel box of a public space for guests to interact with Black Hills’ high-end wines. The spare interiors are offset by dramatic, soaring rooflines, which lets you know this is not your everyday wine experience.

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7. Liquidity, Okanagan Falls

Designer: Ritchie Contracting and Design, 2012

Contracting and Design, 2012 There’s not much the slick, modern Liquidity winery visitor centre has in common with the adobe-style house that used to sit on the lot before owner Ian MacDonald took over—except the stunning view of Vaseux Lake. But the modern update may be even more eye-catching than the Okanagan backdrop, thanks to clean lines, minimalist interiors and a sprawling concrete patio.

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8. Fort Berens, Lillooet

Architects: David Agro and Richard Newell, 2014

It’s Lillooet’s first winery, so it’s not like Fort Berens really had pressure to build a rustic-chic tasting room . . . but they did anyway. The modern interpretation of the region’s agriculture combines mixed concrete, steel and glass with warm Douglas fir beams and doors, sourced locally; windows from the tasting room give visitors a peek into the winemaking process, while garage-style doors pull up to let the sunshine in.

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