West Kelowna grape vines (Phil McLachlan - West K News)

Okanagan Valley: the best-known wine region in B.C.

The first vines were planted in B.C. in the 1800s, in the Okanagan

The Okanagan Valley produces a wide variety of flavourful wines.

Wine Growers B.C. separates the province into nine growing regions. The Okanagan Valley is the most fruitful and provides over 85 percent of B.C.’s wine production, said Laura Kittmer, communications director of Wine Growers B.C.

“The Okanagan is B.C.’s largest and most well-known region,” said Kittmer.

The valley is separated into five sub-regions, divided by the unique growing properties, climate and flavour of the grapes, said Kittmer.

The sub-region of Kelowna-Lake Country is B.C.’s original wine region and is home to the first grapevines planted in B.C., in 1859. The province’s oldest continually operating winery Calona Vineyard was established in 1932 and remains an Okanagan classic.

Other long-standing vineyards around Kelowna include Gray Monk Estate Winery, the Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Winery and Quails’ Gate Winery.

The province’s oldest Rieslings are found at Tantalus and Sperling Vineyards, popular vineyards in Kelowna’s backyard, said Kittmer.

She said that the mature vines produce an intense flavour that is unique to the well-established wineries.

Other than Rieslings, the Kelowna-Lake Country sub-region is known for producing light and fresh wine from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris vines.

The Northern Okanagan region around Kelowna is considered a cooler climate that produces lighter wines when compared to the South Okanagan, said Kittmer.

Kittmer said that when visiting a winery in B.C. it is best to “know before you go.”

Wine Growers B.C. has created the Wines of BC Explorer App, which facilitates wine-tour planning.

Kittmer said that the app features all of B.C.’s wineries and cideries and allows users to filter their searches based on preferences of grapes, food availability and their preferred wine-tasting activities.

“The Okanagan is becoming known globally,” said Kittmer, explaining that the flavourful wines produced in the Okanagan are being enjoyed across the world.


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