You would expect to find ice wines in British Columbia, but not Bordeaux-style reds. And plenty of lakes -- but not warm, arid summers. Okanagan Wine Country overflows with surprises for both wine lovers and travelers.
A Surprisingly Cooperative Climate
Located just over the U.S. border in the south-central part of the Canadian province, the area is, surprisingly, considered part of the Sonoran desert. In fact, many Canadians retire there for its short, mild winters and warm, dry summers.
While apple, pear, apricot and cherry orchards can still be spotted in the region, some 7,000 acres of Okanagan are now devoted to vineyards. The arid, rough terrain -- with cooling influences from the interior lakes -- creates perfect conditions for growing wine grapes.
Mission Hill, perhaps the best-known of the 80-some wineries in the region, is worth a visit. Enjoy the acclaimed wines and unique combination of baroque and modern architecture. Soak up the panoramic view of the vineyards and Lake Okanagan.
Another area winery that has been bringing home major international awards is Jackson-Triggs. Treat yourself and pick up a bottle of wine produced by this vineyard at your neighborhood Publix.
Fans of serious reds should visit Osoyoos Larose for a taste of its "Le Grand Vin," a Bordeaux-style wine. Happily, the region will please both red and white wine fans, and of course, visitors must sample delicious ice-wines, a local specialty.
These vineyards thrive on the east and west sides of the lakes, starting with Osoyoos Lake in the south and the larger Okanagan Lake farther north, near Kelowna. As one might expect with a region so abundant in lakes, there are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, from fishing and hiking to boating and bird-watching.