Wine tours galore as spring arrives in the South Okanagan

Tour the local wine scene

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April is B.C. Wine Month and there’s no better way to celebrate than a wine tour (or two!) through the South Okanagan.

Farm to Glass Wine Tours is gearing up for their third year in business of offering eco-wine tours, which owner and guide Jess Hopwood said is “going to be a goodie!”

“There is going to be some great wine being released this season,” she said, noting that each season she finds herself starting tours earlier and earlier, with her first tour of the season being April 19.

“I think BC wine enthusiasts of all sorts are wanting to visit earlier and as I always like to say, "the early bird catches the wine!"”

Farm to Glass offers tours (and, as Hopwood calls them, adventures!) geared towards what Hopwood describes as “thoughtful” and “sustainable tourism.”

“How you may ask? By creating itineraries that have 100 per cent positive impact in the wine region/community guests are visiting,” she said.

“This includes visiting wineries that focus on sustainable and regenerative farming. These eco-wine tours also include all tastings fees (premium tastings as well!) along with sustainably packaged water, snacks, a picturesque picnic lunch, a hyper-local goodie bag as a thank you for choosing to wine tour in an eco-friendly way and lastly, for every guests $10 is donated back to the community.”

A total of “$1,500 has been donated back to causes such as SOWINS (South Okanagan Women in Need Society), Foundry Penticton & Kelowna, and community CSAs to help families in need get fresh organic produce from Puzzlegrass farms for families in Naramata and Klippers Organics for families in the Similkameen,” explained Hopwood.

“Wine tasting has never been so good, right!?”

With 13 tours hyper-customizable to client’s palates, Hopwood explained “...how the whole day is curated from start to finish, with no detail forgotten so that they can just enjoy and be in the moment, tasting wines with their favourite people.”

“Itineraries are built weeks in advance, after chatting by email or phone about their loves, likes and dislikes in wine so that I can curate a day that is tailored for them. Being private tours, I really just want to spoil guests,” she added.

And Farm to Glass Tours even offers tours by water, with Hopwood saying, she’s “...so honoured and excited to be collaborating with Robyn and Dan Hines, the amazing people behind Winds of Change Sailing Expeditions in Naramata to offer a half day wine tasting, half day sailing (equals) full time awesome Sustainable Sip & Anchor Wine Adventure.”

“Imagine you start your day with some wine tastings, maybe pick up a bottle or two of your favourite wines, get dropped off at your sailboat in Naramata for an afternoon sail where you will have catered lunch, sailing, swimming and paddle boarding on Okanagan Lake. I'm excited that this will be the first of its kind in the Penticton/Naramata region, with all the Farm to Glass Wine Tours bells and whistles of course!”

And with an extensive background and education in viticulture, Hopwood enjoys sharing with guests conversations from what she says is the “ground up.”

“Wine is farming, and I want to reconnect the disconnect all while having a damn good time,” she said.

But what she also enjoys about offering wine tours?

“There's some really great people with fantastic stories about their wines. I love giving opportunities to guests to hear those stories. It also helps that you're probably standing under an apricot tree with the gentle breeze in the air, with birds singing their songs while overlooking the beautiful views of the Okanagan Lake, tasting delicious wines. What more could you ask for?” she said.

For more information and to book your tour, visit farmtoglasswinetours.ca

And don’t miss a tour with Wine Tours Gone South, operating in the South Okanagan for the last 14 years.

“Okanagan wine tours are special because more often than not you are meeting with the owners and wine makers at these boutique wineries and people get to first hand feel like they are a part of the magic,” said owner and hostess Natasha Rojas.

“That's why I know this year people will be here because they do want to support the industry that they have been made to feel a part of, so it's personal for the guests as well.”

Offering three tours that can be adjusted to guests’ interests, Rojas said the most popular tour is the Taste of Wine Country tour, priced at $135 per person and includes a “leisure day spent in the valley tasting and dining, (with) no time limits or set number of wineries.”

“We do have The Sunset Tour, it visits (two to three) wineries and then a dinner stop at your choice of restaurant, $80 per person, tax included,” she added. “My guests love the flexibility in our tours, we do not limit where we can take our guests and most of our tours are not time based, so our customers can just relax and enjoy the tour.”

And be sure to keep an eye out on their website, winetoursgonesouth.ca for more information on their upcoming “Happy Hour in Osoyoos Tour,” set to launch before May 1.

“We enjoy taking our customers to the wineries where they receive excellent customer service, that's a bigger priority than the wines, customers do remember more about how they are treated,” added Rojas.

Be sure to check out their website for more information and to book your tour!

Also with 14 years in the wine touring business is Grape Friends Lounge and Tours, which operates all year long.

“We run small, intimate, private and customized tours, “said Karen Donison, owner and operator alongside Ron Jaggard.

“We create the day you are looking for. You pick the time to start, tours are usually (four to four-and-a-half) hours and we have no set itineraries. We create the best experience and memories based on what you would like. You can request where you would like to go and we build the itineraries based on what types of wine, ciders, breweries and/or distilleries you would like to visit. You can choose to have lunch during your tour, have some snacks or just visit the wineries. Our tours are all private custom tours. We also have a sliding rate scale meaning the price goes down with more people on your tour (with two to six people being) our max. The more the merrier so they say!”

And Grape Friends goes all over the South Okanagan, with Donison adding tours extend out to Cawston and Keremeos, to “lots of hidden gems out there that most people are only now starting to explore.”

“Whichever region you tour in you will not be disappointed! Beautiful, gorgeous scenery, vineyards, orchards, communities, lots of wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries in all directions,” she added.

Be sure to check out Grape Friends and book your tour at pentictontours.com for a “grape, grape time!”

Want to try a boat tour? Cheers! Okanagan Tours offers a variety of family-friendly wine tours, boat tours, sight-tours and even do-it-yourself tours. Check out their website at cheersokanagantours.com

Also offering a variety of wine tours in the South Okanagan and Similkameen areas is Grape Escapes Wine Tours, which offers bachelorette wine tours, private wine tours, corporate events and even gift certificates. You can find out more at grapeescapes.ca

Last but certainly not least, Vivid Tours offers winery, brewery and food tours throughout the Okanagan Valley, including Summerland, the Naramata Bench, Oliver and Osoyoos. You’ll find more about what they offer at vivid.tours

For more Penticton fun this month, click here.

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