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I LOVE wine. I grew up on wine.

While everyone else’s first alcoholic beverage was whiskey or rum, mine was a smooth glass of red.

It’s in my veins.

So picture this…

I’m driving down to the Okanagan Valley at breakneck speed this past April with one goal on my mind:

 

visit as many wineries as humanely possible!

 

What Wine Rich Countries Have I Been to?

 

I’ve been to Napa Valley in California;

I’ve visited the Bordeaux region in France- but the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia was uncharted wine territory for me.

I couldn’t wait to EXPLORE it all!

 

Where did I Stay?

 

In Kelowna, I stayed at the Delta Grand Hotel.

What an amazing hotel and a must stay,

In Penticton, I stayed at the Penticton Lakeside Resort because my friends had told me really great things about the hotel.

The resort is situated right on the mouth of the Okanagan Lake.

On sunny days, guests can see the bouncing rays of sunshine glisten off the lake’s surface.

So beautiful!

 

Where Did I go in the Okanagan?

 

I worked my way through the best and most popular wineries in the Okanagan Valley.

I started with the famous spots in Kelowna, of course. 🙂

I then migrated to more obscure vineyards along Naramata Road in Penticton.

Overall, I’d have to say that the tiny vineyards in Penticton were beyond amazing and unexpected.

If you have a chance this summer, I wholeheartedly recommend a getaway to Canada’s premier wine destination.

The Okanagan Valley really has so much to offer- and the dozens of amazing wineries sprinkled across the hillside are the icing on top of the cake.

Here is a list of my favourite wineries in the Okanagan Valley so you too can be the wine snob among your friends.

Bench 1775

*Photo source: Bench 1775 Wineries

Don’t be fooled by Bench 1775′s small-town feel;

Bench 1775 is one of the highest-rated small wineries in Canada.

Give Bench props for its delicious award-winning selection of red, white, rose and ice wines.

Located in Penticton, BC, Bench 1775 is situated on the edge of the southern shore of the stunning Okanagan Lake.

Its breathtaking overlook of the Okanagan Valley makes this winery a must see on your wine tour.

*Photo source: Bench 1775 Wineries

Overall rating of Bench 1775 based on reviews from tripadvisor.com:

What Can You Expect?

Guests can take in the beautiful scenery amidst lunch and a glass of wine in their outside patio bistro.

Their bistro offers mouth-watering locally-harvested dishes that include flat breads and local BC seafood.

Each dish comes with a wine recommendation and I, for one, did not hesitate in taking their advice!

I paired my oven roasted pizza with their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, while my wine tour partner-in-crime (Alleesha) chose Bench 1775’s 2015 “Chill” white wine alongside her oyster dish.

Wine Tasting?

FUN wine tastings are available.

Stop by any day of the week for an informative tour and tasting of all of their table and sweet wines.

Led by staff who you can tell genuinely love all Bench 1775 has to offer, guests can sip and savor their classics while taking in the jaw dropping view of the Okanagan Valley.

Bench 1775 offers a wide variety of tasty wines for wine lovers.

From vibrant reds to refreshing whites, Bench 1775 has something delicious for everyone.

Their quality wines stem from a dedicated team led by winemaker Val Tait and Alain Sture, a veteran wine consultant from Bordeaux, France (Oh, Bordeaux).

Along with expert vineyard workers and cellar staff, the Bench 1775 team create balanced wines all produced in the Okanagan Valley. 

Wines

Their ice wine is especially well-recognized, thanks in part to Val’s now famous Mojito mix recipe that features their Bliss ice wine. I’ll have what she’s having!

If you’re a big of this award-winning winery, make sure to follow Val Tait as she travels to different events for workshops and tastings. She often hosts wine workshops at the Bench 1175 winery itself, teaching wine connoisseurs the ins and outs of wine.

From red wine blending classes to fun Wine Club patio parties, you’ll definitely reap the benefits of being part of this fun club!

Hours and Location

BENCH 1775 HOURS

How to get to Bench 1775 (from Vancouver)

If you’re travelling from the Greater Vancouver area, the best way to get to Bench 1775 is along Highway 1.

Once you’re driving East along Highway 1, you have two choices.

You can take Highway 3 or Highway 5. Highway 5 takes you up North to Merritt, back down South through Peachland and Summerland until you reach Penticton.

Directions:

  • Take Highway 1 East
  • Take Highway 3
  • Take Highway 3A towards Penticton
  • Take Highway 97 towards Penticton
  • Once into Penticton, take a right on Eckhardt Avenue W (It turns into Eckhardt Ave E)
  • Follow the road along Eckhardt Ave E (this road turns into Haven Hill Rd.)
  • Then take a right on Johnson Rd.
  • Follow Johnson Rd. (this turns into Upper Bench Rd. N) all the way until you come to McMillan Ave.
  • Turn right on McMillan Ave (turns into Naramata Rd.)
  • Follow Naramata Rd. all the way until you reach the winery 🙂

 

Highway 3 takes you past the Skagit Valley Provincial Park, Manning Park and Princeton.

I personally like to drive along Highway 3 as the drive is quite beautiful.

The last time I drove along Highway 3, I saw 3 deer.

With that being said, be aware of wildlife on the road! Deer tend to dart out on the road without warning!

From Washington State

If you’re coming up from Washington, take the Sumas border entrance into Canada.

Once you cross the border, follow the road North until you reach Highway 1 East.

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Photo Credit: CedarCreek Estate Winery, cedarcreek.bc.ca

Overall rating based on reviews from tripadvisor.com:

Cedar Creek is one of the foremost wineries to come out of British Columbia.

The Cedar Creek Estate Winery released its first wine all the way back in 1987 and boasts more than three decades of experience.

It’s for this reason Cedar Creek was on my must-see list when I visited Kelowna.

What Can You Expect?

Sitting atop a lush hillside a mere 20 minutes from town, Cedar Creek Estate Winery offers guests panoramic views of the Okanagan lake and countryside.

It’s absolutely gorgeous and there’s a wide list of options to choose from as well!

The Menu:

Cedar Creek’s estate provides a stunning setting and menu if you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two.

The smoked trout and watermelon salad is to die for and you get a killer view of the vineyard!

Wine Tour:

The wine tours are something else.

You can tell Cedar Creek has put a lot of time and money into its winery by its surrounding grounds.

When touring the location, you’re surrounded by beautiful architecture and natural scenery everywhere you look.

The host is also top-notch- ask him any question- the man will provide you a personable answer.

Wine Tasting?

If you simply want to pick up your favourite bottle of wine, stop by the winery anytime during the day for a complimentary daily tasting feature before heading off.

The wine shop also offers a slew of unique gifts besides wine, including cookbooks and wine accessories.

Photo Credit: CedarCreek Estate Winery

Hours and Location

cedar creek hours

How to get to Cedar Creek Winery

Cedar Creek Estate Winery is located in Kelowna.

To get there from Vancouver, you want to follow Highway 1 East and turn onto Highway 5.

The turnoff for Highway 5 is just past Hope.

Once you pass Hope and get onto Highway 5, continue along Highway 5 for quite a while.

Once you pass Merritt, Highway 5 turns into Highway 5A and turns into 97C.

Lake Breeze Winery

Overall rating based on reviews from tripadvisor.com:

If you’re already doing a stop over in Penticton, B.C, why not check out this friendly local winery?

Located only minutes from the Penticton Lakeside Resort, Lake Breeze Winery boasts a cozy, homey feel with a wide range of wines for tasting.

While the tasting fee is $3, the amount is donated to charity.

Oh, and if you happen to buy a bottle of their wine?

The entire fee is waived.

What Can You Expect?

Want to have some wine delivered directly to your door?

No problem.

Lake Breeze Winery has an awesome online shopping system that allows your favourite blends to be delivered anywhere in Alberta and British Columbia!

The Menu:

Before heading off, I grabbed a bite at their Patio restaurant.

Chef Mark Ashton served my friends and I the perfect wine accompaniment of portobello mushroom carpaccio (simply to die for!) along with their vibrant semillon/chardonnay.

Unreal.

The epic sunset in the background didn’t hurt either.

Wines

Lake Breeze wines are crisp and fruity, made from grapes straight from their vineyard or Naramata Beach.

Their most popular blends include Ehrenfelser, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris as well as Bordeaux, Merlot, Pinotage and Pinot Noir.

My personal favourite is the red Meritage, which I made sure to stock up on before the end of my winery tour.

Wine Tasting?

Hours and Location

lake breeze location hours

How to get to Lake Breeze Winery

Many of Penticton’s wineries are located on Naramata Rd.

This road snakes along the Okanagan Lake.

Lake Breeze Winery is one of those wineries located on the lake.

To get there, you want to take the same course as if you’re going to Bench 1775.

Directions:

  • Take Highway 1 East
  • Take Highway 3
  • Take Highway 3A towards Penticton
  • Take Highway 97 towards Penticton
  • Once into Penticton, take a right on Eckhardt Avenue W (It turns into Eckhardt Ave E)
  • Follow the road along Eckhardt Ave E (this road turns into Haven Hill Rd.)
  • Then take a right on Johnson Rd.
  • Follow Johnson Rd. (this turns into Upper Bench Rd. N) all the way until you come to McMillan Ave.
  • Turn right on McMillan Ave (turns into Naramata Rd.)
  • Follow Naramata Rd. and take a left on Sammet Rd and you’re there!

La Frenz Estate Winery

Overall rating based on reviews from tripadvisor.com:

La Frenz is easily one of the most successful and reputable wine brands in the Okanagan Valley region, raking in three international winery of the year awards since 2013.

Georgia Straight magazine named La Frenz as the number three best B.C Winery Tasting Room this year and so my only question to you now is…what are you waiting for?!

La Frenz’s tasting room comes with two tasting flight options, ranging from $5 to $10 in price (the fee is waived if you purchase wine yourself). The Portfolio Tasting Flight experience gives guests the chance to sample up to five wines, including all of their latest and greatest releases.

The Reserve Tasting Flight tour, however, focuses on La Frenz’s Reserve wines: Reserve Pinot Noir, Reserve Chardonnay, Vivant, Ensemble and the Grand Total Reserve. This was the tasting tour I personally preferred as I was able to sample the wine collection I’d been curious about prior to stopping at La Frenz winery.

If you’re having trouble deciding between two bottles, I recommend the 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir!

lafrenz location hours

How to get to La Frenz Winery

  • Merge onto Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E
  • Continue onto BC-3 E
  • Take exit 286 for British Columbia 5A/BC-97C toward Merritt/Kelowna/BC-8/City Centre
  • Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Kelowna
  • Turn left onto BC-5A/BC-97C (signs for Kelowna/Princeton/British Columbia 5A S/British Columbia 97 Connector E)
  • Continue to follow BC-97C
  • Take the BC-97 S exit toward Peachland/Penticton/Osoyoos
  • Keep right, follow signs for British Columbia 97 and merge onto Okanagan Hwy/BC-97 S
  • Continue onto Eckhardt Ave W
  • Make a slight left onto Haven Hill Rd
  • Turn right onto Johnson Road
  • Slight left onto Upper Bench Rd S
  • Turn right onto McMillan Ave
  • Slight left onto Naramata Rd
  • Turn right onto Randolph Rd and you’ll arrive at La Frenz Winery

Red Rooster

Overall rating based on reviews from tripadvisor.com:

Red Rooster Winery boasts an atmosphere like no other winery in the province.

Its quirky, fun vibe makes Red Rooster one of the most fun wine tours to take part in in the Okanagan Valley.

From its funky art displays and statues, to its large patio and open grounds, Red Rooster has the kind of hospitality and quality that’ll make you want to visit again and again.

Their wines follow a similar approach, offering premium crowd pleasing blends that range from their fruity Gewurztraminer to their spicy Cabernet Merlot.

Their Riesling ice wine is an excellent gift to take home as well, offering a unique candied lemon, honey and pineapple flavour that I just couldn’t resist- I took home two bottles. 

red rooster location hours

How to get to Red Rooster Winery

  • Merge onto Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E
  • Continue onto BC-3 E
  • Continue onto BC-5 N
  • Take exit 286 for British Columbia 5A/BC-97C toward Merritt/Kelowna/BC-8/City Centre
  • Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Kelowna
  • Turn left onto BC-5A/BC-97C (signs for Kelowna/Princeton/British Columbia 5A S/British Columbia 97 Connector E)
  • Take the BC-97 S exit toward Peachland/Penticton/Osoyoos
  • Keep right, follow signs for British Columbia 97 and merge onto Okanagan Hwy/BC-97 S
  • Merge onto Okanagan Hwy/BC-97 S
  • Continue straight onto Eckhardt Ave W
  • Slight left onto Haven Hill Rd
  • Turn right onto Johnson Rd
  • Slight left onto Upper Bench Rd S
  • Turn right onto McMillan Ave
  • Slight left onto Naramata Rd

Quail’s Gate Estate Winery

Perhaps the most recognized wine brand in the Okanagan Valley, Quail’s Gate winery boasts over 60 years of experience, making this winery one of the pioneers of Okanagan wine making.

Over the course of three generations, Quail’s Gate has expanded its winery to include fine dining and accommodation.

What to Expect?

This winery offers hotel stay!

Guests can stay at either at the estate’s 10 person private Lake House or their beach-front cottage Nest, providing guests the ultimate weekend escape right on the Okanagan Lake.

The Menu:

If you’re in Kelowna only for a short time, Quail’s Gate wine tour and Old Vines restaurant will more than quench your thirst for premium wine.

The winery’s fine dining restaurant is considered one of the top 100 restaurant in Canada and offers the freshest local dishes, for a premium Okanagan dining experience.

Wine Tour:

Their wine tours change by the season, giving guests in depth guided tours through the vineyards and delicious wine sampling in their exclusive Wine Library.

quail location hours

How to get to Quail’s Gate Estate Winery

Getting to Quail’s Gate is a breeze as soon as soon as you get onto the Trans Canada Highway. It’s smooth sailing from there on out, with the BC-1  guiding you all the way to the Okanagan Valley until you hit the signs for Kelowna.

Directions (from Vancouver):

  • Take the Trans Canada Highway/BC-1 E ramp
  • Continue onto BC-5 N
  • Take exit 286 for British Columbia 5A/BC-97C toward Merritt/Kelowna
  • Follow signs for Kelowna
  • Turn left onto BC-5A/BC-97C
  • Take the exit on the left onto Okanagan Highway/BC-97 N toward Westbank/Kelowna/Vernon
  • Turn right onto Gellatly Rd
  • Turn left onto Boucherie Rd
  • Arrive at Quail’s Gate

Gray Monk

Overall rating based on reviews from tripadvisor.com:

Gray Monk is the oldest family owned and operated winery, with plenty of prestige to boot. Located in Lake Country, a short 30 minute drive from Kelowna, Gray Monk is situated on 75 acres of vineyards directly overlooking the breathtaking Okanagan Lake.

What Can You Expect?

Gray Monk wines have been picking up awards left, right and centre for years, most recently being recognized in Vines magazine for their Cabernet Merlot and Odyssey Meritage blends. The winery is known for its elegant Grapevine restaurant, which features everything from salmon tartare to duck confit. Yumm.

Gray Monk’s wines are recognized for their fine wines and are celebrating three milestones this year: Founders George and Trudy Heiss celebrate 35 years of crafting wine, 45 years of grape growing and (drum roll please) 55 years of marriage. Shall we toast to that? Cheers!

Wines

They’re best known for their red, white and sparkling wines, notably being the number one selling Pinot Gris in British Columbia. If you’re at a loss as to which blend to take home with you while visiting Gray Monk, you can’t go wrong with Latitude 50: this unique creation is the number one selling white blend in the province. Not too shabby Grey Monk.

Hours and Location

gray monk hours location

How to get to Gray Monk

  • Merge onto Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E
  • Continue onto BC-3 E
  • Continue onto BC-5 N
  • Take exit 286 for British Columbia 5A/BC-97C toward Merritt/Kelowna/BC-8/City Centre
  • Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Kelowna
  • Turn left onto BC-5A/BC-97C (signs for Kelowna/Princeton/British Columbia 5A S/British Columbia 97 Connector E)
  • Take the exit on the left onto Okanagan Hwy/BC-97 N toward Westbank/Kelowna/Vernon
  • Merge onto Okanagan Hwy/BC-97 N
  • Turn left onto Burtch Rd
  • Turn right onto Bernard Ave
  • Turn left onto Glenmore Dr
  • Turn left onto Seaton Rd
  • Continue straight onto Dick Rd
  • Dick Rd turns right and becomes Chase Rd
  • Turn left onto Camp Rd
  • Arrive at Gray Monk Winery

Lauren Martineau

Professional freelance blogger & writer, storyteller & adventuress. When Lauren's not typing 80 wpm, she's travelling and staying fit.