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Canada's Okanagan Valley is the Best Wine Destination You've Never Heard of

It's basically British Columbia's version of Napa.

For years, the Okanagan Valley, located in British Columbia, has been known as a mecca for skiing and snowboarding in winter, and golf, boating, and mountain climbing in summer. But recently, the region has become the hottest new thing in wine travel, with a reputation for making world-class bordeaux blends, pinots, chardonnays, syrahs and white blends—especially those from the Naramata Bench. Here are our picks for one of the most beautiful, welcoming, and adventurous wine regions in the world.

Sip
Mission Hill Estate has won “Winery of the Year” from a slew of credible sources, including the International Wine & Spirit Competition and Canadian Wine awards. It also won “Best Pinot Noir in the world” at the Decanter World Wine Awards. And those are just a few of the medals in its trophy case. The winery itself is on the classy side of grandiose and features an amphitheater, private tasting rooms, video rooms, state-of-the-art cooking classrooms, caves (!), a lavish restaurant, and some of the best views in the valley.

A simple family owned and operated winery, Laughing Stock Vineyards makes rich, complex red blends and a Syrah that are powerful but elegant. The whites are also some of the best in the valley. All of the vino sells out quickly, and not just because it is limited production. 

The Cross Family Orchards specialize in apples, but also dabble in all kinds of produce, wine grapes, and award-winning hard ciders. Kind, salt of the earth people, Glen and Loretta offer some of the best fruit, greens, and hard cider in the area.  

Located on the valley floor, what Sperling lacks in views it makes up for in history and flavor. This old-school tasting room is small and laid-back, allowing visitors to focus on the earthy and unrefined style that makes its wines fun.  

Painted Rock has earned a lot of recognition for its wines, and even the locals are excited about its flashy new tasting room. Perched atop a rocky hill overlooking a lake, this stark white room has visitors wearing sunglasses as they sip the vineyard’s crisp and refined wines.

High demand means you might have to wait outside the tasting room at La Frenz. Its earthy and juicy Syrah is well worth it, though, and taking photos in the flowery vineyards overlooking the lake will help you pass the time.

Located across the lake from Mission Hill, Cedar Creek started racking up awards in 2012 for its pinot, rosé, viognier, pinot gris and Gewürztraminer. Approachable and fun, but also complex and well made, these wines make a visit to Cedar Creek well worth it.  

Stay
Sparkling Hill Resort is a European-style wellness resort home to impressive views from every room (even the showers), seven different Sauna rooms, two infinity pools, all kinds of wellness classes, and North America’s only cold sauna. It’s a bit of a drive from some of the wineries, but well worth it if you’re looking to escape and relax in style.  

More of a pueblo-style resort than your typical inn, God's Mountain Bed + Breakfast is conveniently located near Painted Rock and other top-rated spots. It features vineyards, views, relaxation areas, and even a roofless room for those who like to sleep under the stars.  

The Cove Lakeside Resort is a great pick for families. Close to Mission Hill winery, it has a large pool with a waterslide, expansive views of the lakes and mountains, a boat rental shop just outside the grounds, and a respected restaurant.

If you’re into the traditional lodge vibe, check out Naramata Heritage Inn + Spa . Enjoy a view of the mountains from your room, and the cozy and romantic restaurant, bar, and patios.

Dine
Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill winery was voted one of the top five winery resorts in the worlds by Travel + Leisure magazine, as well as the Best Okanagan Restaurant by Vancouver magazine. It will impress even the most intense foodies. 

If you’re looking for classic foods and a beautiful space, Peakfine at Sparkling Hill Resort has views from just about every table, and does a very good job with steak, lobster, and pasta. An impressive wine list includes options from many of the best wineries in the region.

Poppadoms is a well-kept local secret, specializing in creative cocktails and traditional Indian cuisine. Top chefs from all over Okanagan consider it a favorite.  

Naramata’s Hillside Winery + Bistro serves tasty local bites on small plates with brilliant colors and flavorful vegetables. The menu is highly seasonal and changes frequently, and the food and wine pairings are artfully planned and executed.  

The Patio at Lake Breeze at Naramata Bench Wine Farm is surrounded by gardens and flowers. If you’re looking for a romantic spot and love being surrounded by nature, this picturesque winery restaurant should be at the top of your list.

The Vanilla Pod at Poplar Grove winery has a cafeteria-style feel indoors, but also offers group seating outside with expansive views and tasty artisan dishes. 

 

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