Kelowna Pre-Conference Excursion: Discover the Birthplace of the BC Wine Industry

In a word, glorious. Standing on the winery patio, overlooking the rows of vineyard and the glimmering Okanagan Lake, with the rocky and arid rolling mountains encircling the scene, it is hard not to feel that you have the world by the tail.  There is a word for moments like these, which you’ll find aplenty while touring Kelowna’s Wine Trails: pause. As you stand here and take in the glorious view, you have essentially hit the pause button on life’s frenetic pace.

Kelowna, the  Okanagan Valley’s centre of commerce and cultural hub, offers bloggers the historical context for the valley’s wine industry. This is mile zero of the Okanagan Valley’s oldest wineries – indeed of BC’s first wineries – and the vineyards and orchards that stretch in neat rows throughout Kelowna’s pastoral countryside tell of the great vision and tenacity of the area’s Bacchanalian pioneers. Trailblazing North America’s northernmost wine region was no small feat, although today one would barely know it from the many international awards garnered by the wineries in this locale. Today’s Kelowna wine trails – all five of them with 29 wineries in this pocket of the valley alone – are a delight for discerning wine lovers who expect excellence throughout in the categories of wine, cuisine and culture.

Our Kelowna Pre-Conference excursion (sold out) will take participants to three of the area’s winery and vineyard pioneers, along one of Kelowna’s 5 Wine Trails: the Lakeshore Wine Route. Our first evening will unfold at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, where we will explore how aging wine and sparkling wine inside a 1/8 replica of the Great Pyramid of Cheops can positively impact its flavours. As the sun sets over the lake, we will unlock the secrets of biodynamic farming as we enjoy an organic feast at the winery that has achieved Canadian Producer of the Year and Best International Sparkling Wine at the London International Wine & Spirits Competition in recent years.

Our group will overnight in 2 of Kelowna’s finest waterfront hotels: the heritage-style boutique Hotel Eldorado and the Manteo Waterfront Resort’s 2-bedroom villas with all the comforts of home.  Both properties feature locally-sourced menus in their well-recognized restaurants.

The following morning, we’ll find out what’s buzzing at Tantalus Vineyards, BC’s first and only LEED-certified winery (hint: there are many tiny, furry workers…) We’ll enjoy a sparkling breakfast in the stylish tasting room featuring floor to ceiling windows overlooking vineyards, the city of Kelowna, and Okanagan Lake. Here we will get to taste Riesling that has been lauded by wine reviewers such as Jancis Robinson for achieving the most perfect definition of Riesling from some of the area’s oldest vines.

A scenic drive along Kelowna’s breathtaking Lakeshore Road will take us to CedarCreek Estate Winery for a glorious vineyard-side luncheon.  This is one of BC’s first 8 wineries, twice named Canada’s Winery of the Year. Overlooking the majesty of Okanagan Lake, we will meet the players behind the scenes at this “Statesman” of Kelowna’s wineries.

We hope that you’ll feel enriched and enchanted, having learned about the historical context of the wines of the Okanagan Valley before your core conference. And with Kelowna’s growing culinary and farm-to-table offerings, we hope you’ll be intrigued to come back again soon to explore the array of foodie and oenophile experiences in this bustling, beachy city.

Tourism Kelowna is a supporter of the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference and host for this Pre-Conference Exursion.