I’ve been thinking lately about the range of fantastic wine touring companies we have in Kelowna. There is truly something luxurious about wine touring and not having to drive. Plus, you just know you’ll get added attention when you walk into a winery flanked by a tour guide who is a regular in the tasting rooms! There are several excellent companies in Kelowna you can choose from for a wine tour. Here are just some of different options available.
Van or bus wine tour companies
Last spring our staff went to see the wineries of the Scenic Sip Wine Trail in Lake Country with Experience Wine Tours. We all comfortably fit into the luxurious Mercedes bus, and our driver Matt, who is also a sommelier, gave us knowledgeable commentary along the way. Other companies you can check out who offer this type of transportation include Distinctly Kelowna Tours, Heart and Sol Tours, Okanagan Wine Country Tours, Club Wine Tours, Corks and Hops Tours, Classic Okanagan Tours, and others listed on our Tourism Kelowna website.
Vintage car wine tour companies
For people who enjoy a comfy ride in a classic car, both Tours 59 Classic Car Tours, and Vintage Wine Tours offer custom experiences in their high character, high class rides from days gone by. Ladies, make sure you wear your head shawl and oversized sunglasses!
Probably the inspiration for this article, we recently had Dorothy and Patrick from Custom Sidecar Tours drop in to the Kelowna Visitor Centre to take some of our visitor counsellors out for a spin. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Dorothy chatted animatedly about how sitting in the sidecar means that wildflowers and other beautiful details that could be missed in a bigger vehicle, truly become part of the experience. You can feel temperature changes in the air as you hit a new microclimate, or elevation change. The experience is exciting, tactile, and sensory. Plus, you get to drink wine!
From close to the ground to way up in the air, this form of wine touring means that you get a serious perspective adjustment as you soar from winery to winery. Valhalla Helicopter Tours offers heli-wine tours all around the valley. See this previous Castanet column I did years ago on one of their pilots, and her take on heli-wine touring.
Cycle to winery tours
Who can blame you if you think you’d rather work a bit for your wine? There is something undeniably romantic about cycling from winery to winery. Monashee Adventure Tours offers cycle to winery packages. I’ve been out with guide Ed Kruger from Monashee on a few occasions, and it is always such a fun time. Ed’s local history knowledge and appreciation for wine is just infectious!
I hope I’ve given you a few ideas of how to make the most of a wine touring experience in Kelowna with these ideas. Browse through our Tourism Kelowna wine pages and get inspired by the locations, vistas, tastes, and rides that you can enjoy. Happy wine trails this spring!
Do you love a good Stout? Lager? IPA? Craft beer has taken the Pacific Northwest by storm, and British Columbia can be proud of its variety and diversity of beer. That’s why Gibbons Hospitality Group, who brought us the Whistler Village Beer Festival, have set their sights on Kelowna this May for the inaugural Great Okanagan Beer Festival. The festival will run May 7 through 9 and will feature more than 40 breweries as exhibitors, and a mix of exclusive cask events, beer-themed menus at local restaurants, and a beer sampling main event pouring for an estimated 2,500 beer lovers on Saturday, May 9 in Waterfront Park.
There are currently 17 innovative events on the schedule, including the intimate and exclusive Barkerville Beer Dinner at The Curious Café Artistry and Alchemy Café and the Brewer Highlight Series at the Train Station Pub, Mission Tap House and Black Bear, Kelowna.
Proceeds from the main event will go to the event license holder, KBAAD (K-Billie Artistic & Athletic Development), a Kelowna based NPO whose mission is to support artist and athlete development with community based events and showcases. For more information and to buy tickets visit: gibbonsevents.com/great-okanagan-beer-festival.
Perched on the hills of the Upper Mission neighborhood in Kelowna, overlooking the sparkling lake and the city of Kelowna at a not-too-far distance, you’ll find Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan. The experience of going to Carmelis offers a glimpse into farm life, and yet it is so close to town, just a little way past CedarCreek Estate Winery, winding from Lakeshore Road left onto Rim Rock Road and then right onto Timberline.
The spring is a very special time at Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan. It is the time when the mama goats welcome their kids into the world, and so right now you’ll find several babies scampering around the barn and property; a property where every square inch of wood has been nibbled on and rounded-out by the goats. Truly, it is all there for them to enjoy: the steep hillside with felled logs for them to play on, the troughs in the barn which many a goat will climb into like a canoe – they are characters to the max, and it is good for a belly-laugh or two just to watch them ham it up.
But the star attraction at this lively farm is the cheese that owners Ofri and Ofer Barmor make with the nutritious goats’ milk – almost 20 varieties of it! You’ll find simple fresh goat cheese, plain or seasoned with herbs de Provence or dill and onion; some soft ripened varieties (think Brie or Camembert); and even hard aged varieties. One of my personal faves is the Gruyere they make, which is an amazing flavour that is both mild and nutty. Another crowd favourite is the Goatgonzola, a creamy and mild blue cheese that really turns heads.
Since this farm is just at the end of one of Kelowna’s wine trails, the Lakeshore Wine Route (Tantalus, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, St. Hubertus Winery, and CedarCreek Estate Winery), it offers a perfect complement to wine tours: something perfect to pair with your wine purchases. But it can also comfortably stand on its own as a draw for people of all ages and interests, with its goofy goats, commanding vista, delicious cheese, and friendly staff and family.
Let’s not forget another star attraction here: the gelato! While there are just a few flavours in the spring for people to choose from (not that the choice is easy by any means – the flavours are all fantastic), there will be a full roster of 24 flavours in the summer, all made from the goats’ milk on site. A point of interest for Lactose intolerant readers: since the molecules of goats’ milk most closely resemble human milk, it is easily digestible and a tasty treat with no adverse effects for those with Lactose issues.
Carmelis is a must-visit for tourists in Kelowna, but also for residents who will be wowed by what is in our own backyard. And for anyone who loves watching the comedy act of baby goats doing their thing, this is a perfect time to treat yourself to a visit to Carmelis, right here in Kelowna.
I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief and anticipation by all you golfers out there: it’s spring, and that means hello golf clubs! Many of you have already found your way to a course – we know this because of all the bragging that has been happening on the social media, with smiling local golfers asking their winter weary buddies in other destinations if they’ve been golfing yet.
With so many golf courses in the immediate Kelowna area, there certainly are many fantastic choices covering a wide array of difficulty. The sheer concentration of golf tracks in the Kelowna area means that this city has established itself as a prime Canadian golf destination, and has won the praise of well-known Canadian golfers, including golf personality Bob Weeks. After a visit to our golf courses last summer, he documented his impressions in a blog post, opening with, “I spent most of last week out in Kelowna, which has easily become one of Canada’s best golf destinations. There are 20 courses in the general region ranging from championship layouts with jaw-dropping scenery to some really smart shorter courses.”
At Tourism Kelowna we’ve already received many bookings through www.golfkelowna.com for spring and summer golf trips. GolfKelowna.com is the central reservations system developed by Tourism Kelowna in partnership with local courses, allowing out-of-town golfers to book their tee times, accommodations, and receive tourism information all in one spot. While our local courses do their own local marketing, the concept behind this central reservations service was that people who travel for golf will typically play more than one course, so the aim was to make it easy for them to book their tee times, while also showcasing the many courses in this relatively small hub.
Several notable golf writers have published articles on the amazing golf we have right here in our own backyard. Check out the stories here, and be sure to pass on the word about our gem of a golf destination when you’re speaking with your out-of-town golf buddies. With our convenient air access (including non-stop flights from Toronto, Seattle, and of course our neighbours in Alberta and on the Coast), Kelowna’s five intriguing wine trails and fantastic dining and recreation – now is definitely the time they should book their golf vacations to Kelowna… and we know just the place for them to start!
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