When you’re surrounded by some thirty or so wineries – many international gold medal award-winners – the best option is to take a wine tour and let someone else worry about driving. At one time these focused on crisp, fruity whites and dessert wines, but now successful reds and cold-climate whites are common. It’s worth visiting a couple of vineyards since the valley’s microclimates and differing soil types allow neighbouring vintners to produce completely different wines. The wineries join together in early May, early August and early October for annual spring, summer and autumn wine festivals (thewinefestivals.com) when free wine tastings, gourmet dinners, grape stomps and vineyard picnics lure the connoisseur and novice alike. More background can be found at Kelowna’s BC Wine Museum, 1304 Ellis St (Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 11am–5pm; by donation), basically a glorified shop with a few exhibits. Below are a few recommended wineries to try if you strike out on your own.

Tours

Distinctly Kelowna Tours 1310 Water St t 250 979 1211, t 1 866 979 1211, w distinctlykelownatours.ca. Located in the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort. Offers a raft of wine tours such as the Westside Bench tasting experience, which takes in four wineries over 3hr 30min ($95).

Vineyards

Cedar Creek Estate Winery 5445 Lakeshore Rd t 250 764 8866, w cedarcreek.bc.ca. Voted Canada’s Winery of the Year in 2005 and 2006 and always a top contender. Daily May–Oct 11am, 1pm & 3pm; Nov–April by appointment; $7.
Mission Hill Family Estate 1730 Mission Hill Rd t 250 768 6448, w missionhillwinery.com. Lying on the west side of the lake, its buildings wouldn’t look out of place in Tuscany. Award-winning restaurant open June–Oct, check for hours. Tours daily: July & Aug hourly from 11am–5pm; Sept to mid-Oct 11am, 1pm, 3pm; $12.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery 4870 Chute Lake Rd t 250 764 8000, t 1 800 667 3538, w summerhill.bc.ca. Located in a beautiful spot with a top-notch restaurant and wines aged in a replica Egyptian pyramid – there’s even organic Champagne. Tours daily noon, 2pm & 4pm; $10.

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