is fast becoming the California of the north in its production of
exceptional wines. There are three regions in the province where oenophiles
can find their appetites sated, and the rest of us can sip some excellent
vintages at decent prices. Getting from winery to winery couldn’t
be easier, just follow the burgundy and white “Wine Route” signs.
Most wineries invite visitors for wine tastings and tours. Some even
serve delicious food to complement their wine. As you tour, you may
view the entire process, from crushing to bottling, each winery uniquely
different. Where better to sample and select your favourite wine than
the winery itself. Be sure to take a bottle of the region's finest
when you leave.
Greater Vancouver & Fraser Valley
The vast fertile Fraser Valley is the agricultural heartland of the
province, and home to several wineries within easy driving distance
from Vancouver. There are
also bus tours available from Vancouver - enjoy a lovely daylong excursion
from the city, allowing you to taste, relax and leave the driving
to them. The first winery on your tour will be LuLu Island Winery
in Richmond - they make both fruit and grape wines, while Westham
Island Estate Winery makes a wide range of fruit wines as well as
a much anticipated fall pumpkin wine, spiced with cinnamon, clove
the next stop on this tour is Andres Wines of Port
Moody. Andres Wines produces quality wines such as Bighorn Vineyards
& Peller Estates. A short drive southeast to Langley
is Township 7 Vineyards and Winery, follow the Wine Route markers
to Glenugie Winery. Next is Domaine de Chaberton, and their award-winning
wines and lovely vineyard. Continue on to St. Urban Vineyards in
Chilliwack. Just south of Chilliwack
the Columbia Valley Classics Winery is situated near scenic
Cultus Lake. This winery produces fruit wines as well as jams
Okanagan Valley is the oldest and most prolific wine growing region
in the province. Its arid climate and naturally terraced landscape
make it ideal for the production of excellent vintages. In fact,
the Okanagan is responsible for putting Canada on the vintner’s
map. The summer, fall, and spring offer up a veritable bacchanalia
of wine events, festivals and tastings. There are over 70 wineries
in the Okanagan producing wines that are often unavailable anywhere
but the vineyards in which they are made.
The Okanagan is also a prime fruit growing area, where orchards
may also be visited for fruit buying and picking. Spectacular mountains
and beautiful lakes surround the wineries where visitors experience
a world class wine touring holiday in an unparalleled setting.
The central Okanagan Wine tour begins at Kelowna.
In this town you will find the Calona Vineyards, an old winery offering
detailed information about wine growing in the region, as well as
a Wine Museum, which offers a wealth of information on the local
wineries, history and events held each year. Directly across the
floating bridge on Okanagan Lake are the wineries of Little Straw,
Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery, Quails' Gate Estate Winery, and Mission
Hill Estate Winery. Mission Hill is one of the Okanagan Valley's
largest wineries and offers three levels of guided tours for visitors,
with each tailored to a different level of wine knowledge.
The next route
out of Kelowna unfolds south along Pandosy Avenue. From this street
one can fan out in every direction and discover a winery. Summerhill
Estate Winery, St. Hubertus Estate Winery and Cedar Creek Estate
Winery are all accessed from Pandosy and Lakeshore Drive (Pandosy
becomes Lakeshore Drive). A third tour takes you through beautiful
countryside from the Highway 97 and Highway 3 intersection to House
of Rose Winery, Arrowleaf Cellars, and Gray Monk Estate Winery.
Winery visitors can enjoy a wide range of culinary treats from light
lunches to gourmet dinners served at several of the wineries.
The South Okanagan Tour begins in Penticton
heading south to four wineries in Okanagan Falls; Wild Goose Vineyards,
Stag’s Hollow Winery, Blue Mountain Vineyards and Hawthorne Mountain
Estate Winery. From there, meander along the east shore of Okanagan
Lake and discover eighteen wineries operating along or just off the
Naramata Road. For many wine tourists, Naramata Road is their number
one destination in the Okanagan - no where else can you cover as many
wineries with as little time spent driving. Naramata Road stretches
only 20 kilometers from Penticton to the village of Naramata, so anticipate
more time tasting than driving! If you would prefer to leave the driving
to someone else a number of bus tour companies serve the wineries
of the Naramata Bench. The scenery is breathtaking; lovely sandy beaches
and mountain vistas, and of course first class wine. A jog north and
you’ll find several more wineries at Summerland
and Peachland. Many of the
vineyards have their own restaurants or bistros with outdoor patios.
At Oliver there are currently
thirteen vineyards in a row what is known as the Golden Mile of
Highway 97. New wineries and additional lands are being put into
production in what is expected to be a growth industry for the next
five to 10 years. The Golden Mile, named for the agricultural richness
of the land is an area that holds 10% of the country's wineries
and roughly 60% of British Columbia’s grape-growing acreage. North
on Highway 3 will take you to Crowsnest Vineyards at Cawston and
St. Laszlo Estate Winery at Keremeos.
There are so many
wineries in the region, you could realistically spend the entire week
just touring and tasting. In fact, visitors come from all over the
world to immerse themselves in the whole local wine scene at the Okanagan
Wine Festivals. Okanagan Wine Festivals have become synonymous
with celebration of the spring growing season and the annual fall
harvest, as well as the new Icewine Festival. They provide
an experience for the truly serious wine lover, and those keen on
experiencing the character of the festivals. The annual Icewine Festival
runs for three days in January. The annual Spring Festival
runs for 4 days through the first weekend in May each year, and now
features more than 40 events. The annual Fall Festival takes
place over 10 days in early to mid October featuring over 110 events.
The Okanagan Wine Festivals have been recognized as being among the
Top 100 Events in North America for the past five years. From grape
stomping to consumer wine tastings, the celebrations pay tribute to
winemakers and their product. Restaurateurs serve up their finest
to complement the contending wines while wine-lovers are treated to
gala evenings of superb dining accompanied by award winning vintages.
Vancouver Island and the BC Gulf Islands
The wine tour starts in the Cowichan Valley which is reached via the
Trans Canada Highway or if the prospect of negotiating the steep Malahat
Drive is daunting, B.C. Ferries operates a regularly scheduled service
from Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay.
The Vancouver Island wine route begins at Mill
Bay, at the Merridale Ciderworks, and then heads north to Cowichan
Bay / Cobble Hill and
the Cherry Point Vineyards. Cherry Point offers guided tours three
times a day that provide an in-depth look at grape growing and wine
making at a "farm" winery. Next stop is Venturi-Schulze Vineyards
and the nearby Blue Grouse Vineyards. Follow the Wine Route markers,
it is a fifteen-minute drive north to the southern end of the city
of Duncan and Echo Valley
Vineyards, Godfrey Brownell Vineyards and Zanatta Winery. Just north
of the city is Alderlea Vineyards.
A half-hour drive north to Nanaimo
is the Chateau Wolff Vineyard, and farther north in Port Alberni
is the Chase Warren Estate Winery, the first winery in Port Alberni
and the northernmost tip of the Island’s wine growing region.
Between Parksville and Qualicum Beach in the shadow of Mt. Arrowsmith
is Morningstar Farm, home to MooBerry
Winery and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. MooBerry Winery produces
a wide variety of high-quality fruit wines. Winemaker Phil Charlebois
keeps busy creating new batches of flavourful wines and invites
you to come by for tastings and tours. Located on a working dairy
farm, there’s lots to do, see and taste! Open daily from 9am to
No two vineyards are alike; each has its own special favourites,
as popular as Chardonnay or as rare as Agria. The region also boasts
near-perfect conditions for growing premium quality cider apples.
The Cowichan Valley mirrors the climate and soil conditions of the
famous cider-growing regions of England and France.
Located in the lee of Vancouver Island, between the island and
the mainland of British Columbia, are the Gulf Islands, and their
near Mediterranean climate. The Gulf Islands are currently home
to 12 vineyards, many Gulf Island wineries supplement their production
with grapes grown in the Okanagan Valley. Each of the Gulf Islands
seems to be a world unto itself; travelling between the Southern
Gulf Islands and Northern Gulf Islands can be accomplished in small
hops - each island deserves at least a day or two for exploring.
On Saturna Island are
the Saturna Island Vineyards, the only island vineyard and winery
in Canada with a resort and restaurant facilities. On Salt
Spring Island, be sure to visit Salt Spring Vinyeards and Garry
Oaks Winery, located between Ganges and Fulford Harbour. To the
northwest of Saturna Island is Thetis
Island, location of Thetis Island Vineyards. Visit Morning Bay
Vineyards on North Pender Island, Gabriola Island Winery and Hornby
Island on the east coast of Vancouver Island is home to three wineries.
Gulf Islands ferries have a few sailings each day, so plan ahead.
Diehard wine trekkers will want to hit all the wineries scattered
about the islands; your best bet is to bring a bike and a tent for
some serious Island Hopping.
Throughout the world, wine producing countries have set standards
by which to judge their products and recognize the best. The VQA
put British Columbian wines to the test of meeting premium-quality
standards. This seal is awarded to British Columbia's superior wines,
and is an assurance to the consumer of a certain standard in wine