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From Powder to Pinot: A Wintery Weekend Getaway in Kelowna

This hub of the Okanagan is more than just a great spot for summer adventures.

December 21, 2018

By Emma Johnstone / Photo: Megan Reading, Courtesy Tourism Kelowna

Any wine drinker can attest to the fact that a glass of the grape is equally as delicious in the winter as it is in the summer. But there’s something indescribable about sipping a little red or white while looking out at a storybook landscape of snow and ice—especially when you don’t have to don a parka to do so.

What if we told you there was a place in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley where the wine scene thrives year-round? That’s right, every Vancouverite’s favourite summer road trip destination, Kelowna, is even more of a must-visit during the winter. From the comfortable temperatures and smaller crowds to the snow-dusted slopes of Big White Ski Resort, locals know that winter is the best time to go wine touring in this Okanagan city. We’ve got you covered when it comes to winter in Kelowna.

Ice, Ice Baby

Photo: Guy Lybarger, Courtesy Tourism Kelowna

What better way to taste how cold weather affects the gorgeous grapes of the Okanagan Valley than with an ice wine tasting at Summerhill Pyramid Winery? This finicky type of vino is difficult to make, as it requires ideal temperatures and wringing the juice from frozen grapes that only yield a few drops each. But this well-known vineyard, with its larger-than-life sculpture of sparkling wine pouring into a champagne flute and iconic pyramid building, produces award-winning white and red ice wines that display the unique characteristics of their organic wine varietals, as well as a wide range of standard wines.

Sperling Silver

Sperling Vineyards is a family-owned delight that’s four generations in the making. The high elevation slopes and mineral-rich soil of this vineyard contribute to the rich and elegant taste of their wines. Plus, they play host to some of the most mature vines in the region, including a plot of Maréchal Foch which dates back to 1964. Some of their wines even date back to the ‘20s—and all of them are certified organic. Their reds are lovely, but their white wines are the true showstoppers; if you don’t believe us, try the award-winning Natural Amber Pinot Gris.

Award Winners and Crowd-Pleasers

Photo: Scott Bakken, Courtesy Tourism Kelowna

Enjoy all things local (read: house-made salted caramel cream puffs and award-winning wines) at Arrowleaf Cellars in Lake Country. Named for the local arrowleaf wildflower, this gorgeous hillside winery is located less than 30 minutes from Kelowna, along the Lake Country Scenic Sip route. Take in the stunning views while you taste their equally breathtaking single varietals and signature Field Collection wines, with beautiful labels comprised of photographs of local flora taken around the property. Their wines are frequent award-winners, drawing in accolades from the National Wine Awards of Canada, the Mondial des Pinots in Switzerland and the B.C. Wine Awards, to name a few. Don’t forget to try their charcuterie boards while you’re there, either.

Wine Tour on the Wild Side

Did you know that Kelowna was named for the Okanagan word meaning grizzly bear? This furry creature is also the namesake of Grizzli Winery, a gorgeous establishment whose Tuscan-inspired building was awarded Thompson Okanagan Valley’s “Best New Winery Design.” The winery’s impressive icewines (two red and two white) are hand harvested very late in the year when the temperatures drop, often around Christmas or New Year’s. They also make a Muscat, a white wine which isn’t common in B.C. and features sweet notes of apple, orange and cherry blossom. Plus, they’re only available for purchase at Grizzli, which means you can bring home something especially unique to enjoy.

A Winery with a View

Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Kelowna

This next vineyard has as great a story behind it as well as an extensive wine selection. The View Winery’s red shoe label is inspired by the love of the owners themselves, who once capped off a memorable date night by stuffing the heel of a red pump into an empty wine bottle. Aside from romance, this winery offers an unbeatable weekly winter event dubbed Slip and Sip: an afternoon of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through the vines, followed by a cozy wine tasting.

Get to Know Kelowna

Photo: Megan Reading, Courtesy Tourism Kelowna

Delicious dinners, cozy B&Bs, craft beer, a nearby ski resort and more—Kelowna offers so many great reasons to visit. Want to let someone else do the driving? Book a tour with Experience Wine Tours where you’ll be treated to a five-hour adventure, including a sommelier-guided tasting, a tour of Quails’ Gate and Sandhill Estate Winery, a trip to Vice & Virtue Brewing Co. and an indoor picnic of locally sourced charcuterie, cheeses and crudité.

If you’re keen to experience the Okanagan’s champagne powder, Big White Ski Resort has got you covered. Whether you’re skiing or snowshoeing, you can burn off all that delicious wine and cheese you’ve been sampling in the Kelowna area with a day trip up to the mountain, located less than one hour from town.

With an abundance of fresh, seasonally harvested ingredients hand-chosen from orchards, farms and wineries, it’s no surprise that Kelowna attracts some of the best Canadian chefs and offers farm-to-table meals galore. Enjoy a boozy brunch and panoramic views at Bonfire Restaurant, or tuck into elevated comfort food perfectly paired with local wine at Waterfront Wines in downtown Kelowna.

From winter wine tours to a lively local food and craft beer scene, Kelowna will treat you to the best of B.C. and leave you wanting even more. Get in on the secrets that the city’s locals have known about for years by visiting this vibrant wine country destination when it’s blanketed in fresh powder.

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