6 Reasons for The Okanagan Valley Tasting

The Okanagan Valley Tasting

I was lucky enough to have spent a week visiting my brother at his home in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  Kelowna happens to be the primary city for The Okanagan Valley. This valley is in the south central part of the province, nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Mountains.  This makes its easy to attend the Okanagan Valley Tasting

The Okanagan Valley Tasting
The Okanagan Valley Tasting


The Okanagan experiences a mild climate, and it is very dry, where cactus and sage brush are indigenous to the region.  The region has been experiencing a shift from fruit orchards to vineyards and wine.  The result is a wide range of easily accessible opportunities for wine tasting.

1.  Wine Industry Expansion

The wine industry in the Okanagan is booming.   Twenty years ago, there were only 31 wineries in the region.  Currently there are over 130 wineries.

These wineries fit into about 10,000 acres, which makes it a small competitor on the global stage.  In comparison, Australia has single wineries that are larger than all of B.C. wineries combined.

Despite the small size, Okanagan wineries have been successful in securing many international awards.  In 2013, these wineries won over 2100 awards.



Some of the wineries in the Okanagan have been identified as having some of the top wines in the world.

Wine makers from all over the world are focusing their interest on the Okanagan region.  Some are even choosing to relocate there, to take advantage of its ideal conditions for high end wines.

The superior conditions for growing grapes is genuine.  This makes it ideal to host the Okanagan Valley Tasting

2.  The Sites

One of the spectacular sites of the Okanagan is Lake Okanagan which is over 135 kilometers long.  It is part of the Okanagan Provincial Park.  This lake is a result of repeated glaciers carving their way through the mountains.

Okanagan Lake



Several cities border the lake including Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Peachland.

It is a grand sight, and takes over and hour to pass along its side, via automobile.

The surrounding mountains make it a vista that anyone would marvel at.

3.  The Climate

The first conclusion that most people jump to is that it must be too cold in the mountains to grow grapes.  The Okanagan is an anomaly with regards to latitude.  Most wine regions can be identified by where they lie geographically on the earth in relation  to latitude.

At this latitude, it is unusual to reach the highs of 30°C, yet this is the norm for this region, for the summer months.

Even grapes that prefer the hotter growing seasons, like Syrah and Viogneier are happy here.




The secret is that being so far north means there are longer summer days, which in turn means more sunshine.  The sunshine hours for June to September are 5 a.m. to 9p.m., which accounts for 2 hours more sunshine per day in the peak growing season, than is received in Napa.  The result is a compact but effective growing season.

Another key factor, is the difference in the hottest part of the day vs the coolest part of the night.  In the Okanagan, this difference is ideal for allowing the grapes to ripen into the fall, preserving the natural acidity of the fruit.

The Okanagan is dry.  The coastal mountains, which are to the west, creates a rain shadow that blocks or diverts the majority of the rainy weather system, from the Pacific, from reaching the Okanagan.

This climate plays an important part in which grapes are grown.

The culmination is wines that can compete with the best the world has to offer.

4.  Grape Varieties

Few wine regions offer the diversity of grapes that can be found in theGrapes Okanagan.  Because of the great north south expanse, the climate and soils change greatly as you move down the map.  The regions’ growers boast they grow grapes for A to Z.  There are over 60 different varieties of grapes grown in B.C..  They certainly grow the traditional varieties such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Gris.  But, B.C. is proud to state that they produce the lesser known but equally spectacular varieties.

5.  Unusual Winery Names

With so many wineries to choose from, the owners have become very creative in selecting a name for their wine business.  They want to offer a name that will appeal to their target audience, which may range from the wine expert to the want to be wine aficionado, yet show uniqueness. The names add flair to the Okanagan valley tasting.



The winery that I chose this time was “8th Generation Vineyard”.   Christian Schales began with grapes in 1783 in his village of Dalsheim, Germany.  8 Generations later, his descendants carry on the wine making expertise in The Okanagan Valley.  As you walk the path to the entrance,  you see carved into the rock, the ascending family members names and dates.

8th Generation


At our tasting the wine that piqued my interest was the Ice Wine Syrah 2010.  The reason I chose this ice wine, is mostly because I do not experience them as frequently as other wine varieties.  This ice wine was thickly sweet, as to be expected, with a touch of honey mixed with the fruit, and a hint of vanilla.

2010 Ice Wine Syrah


This ice wine is a stand alone sip, savoured in small amounts.  I would not try to pair this with anything.  It is meant to enjoyed for its’ strength of presence. It was served to us very cold.  The website says to use a tablespoon to glaze scallops before serving.

The person guiding us through the wine tasting, Yolanta, gave us a recipe for a martini using this ice wine, but I would hesitate to waste the Ice Wine Syrah in such a way.

6.  Wine Tours

A great way to see a variety of wineries is to take a tour.  The advantage of this is that you can access the knowledge and expertise of the local people, rather than hoping random visits will do the trick.

The Distinctly Kelowna Tours video below will walk you through how they work.  they offer knowledge, comfort and a designated driver.


If you have any questions or comments, I welcome them below.Judy




The Okanagan Valley Tasting

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  1. Daniel - Classic Rock Days

    May 31, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Wow, it was really interesting, I enjoyed reading. Look forward to reading more
    good materials on the subject. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Judith

      May 31, 2017 at 11:06 am

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Ruben

    May 31, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I`m no wine expert, so I didn’t know there was an ice wine category. What are the characteristics of this type of wine? This looks like some kind of white wine. The ice wine is suitable to serve with food? And, what type of food is good with this wine?

    1. Judith

      May 31, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Thanks for your comment. Ice Wine is a stand alone type of drink. It can be very intense and sweet, so it typically served in smaller amount, about 1 oz. It is often used to take the place of a dessert. Some people will pour Ice Wine over ice cream.

  3. Bea

    May 31, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Thank you for writing such a lovely post. I love ice wine and it has always been my favorite because of its sweet taste! Anytime we have guests over, we always serve ice wine and I must say that some of our guests got hooked and it has now become their favorite too. Although, I love icewine, I try to control how much I drink and have it occasionally. I had icewine on mother’s day with friends and I’m already thinking of having more this coming weekend since we are hosting a party! Thanks again for this awesome post.

    1. Judith

      May 31, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Than you for the comment. I too love Ice Wine and I also limit the amount I have: Too many calories! Besides, it is soooo sweet!

  4. Alan

    May 31, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I enjoyed reading your article. I wanted a taste. It’s too bad you couldn’t set up as a seller. Anyway, thanks for the information. I like the idea of the climate in that region that you spoke of. Sounds like a great place

    1. Judith

      May 31, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks for the comment. When I visit the Okanagan Valley, I do not want to leave!

  5. Teresa

    July 13, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Very interesting. I learned a lot from your post. I was glad you explained why the grapes grow well in Canada because that seemed so counter to what I would have imagined. I really like reading about why something works well in a certain areas. It sounds like the growers found a perfect location for their grapes. I’ve never had ice wine either, but I’ll have to try some. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Judith

      July 13, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you for the comment. I always wondered why grapes would grow in B.C., I thought it would be too cold!

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