Photo: watermarkbeachresort

This Unknown Canadian Wine Area Features 4,000 Acres of Vineyards, the First Indigenous-Owned Winery in North America, and Excellent Hiking and Biking

By BrainJ

Embark on a journey of discovery as we unveil a hidden gem in the world of Canadian wine. This lesser-known wine area boasts 4,000 acres of vineyards, hosts the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America, and offers an enchanting blend of excellent hiking and biking experiences.

Key Takeaways
  • Explore a Canadian wine region that spans an impressive 4,000 acres of vineyards, promising a picturesque setting for oenophiles and nature enthusiasts alike.
  • Delve into the rich cultural tapestry as you learn about the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America, adding a unique and historic dimension to the world of wine.

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A Bavarian castle amidst the grapes, u-pick farms, rich Indigenous heritage, several events, and an incredibly gorgeous scenery are just a few of the reasons to visit this little portion of British Columbia’s wine area.

More than half of all wine produced in Canada is made on the 4,000 acres of vines that make up Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country in British Columbia’s South Okanagan Valley. Housed inside that area is Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Indigenous-owned and run winery in North America, headed by winemaker and member of the Osoyoos tribe Justin Hall. The area’s varied ethnic mix contributed to its formation via its understanding of agriculture and winemaking traditions.¬†

Some even have restaurants on site, such as Kismet Estate Winery, where guests may enjoy traditional Native Canadian food coupled with their wines from British Columbia. Veteran Napa winemaker Mark Beringer adds his touch to Phantom Creek’s winemaking. Beyond his insightful analysis of this nascent region, Phantom Creek has a secret wine cave where visitors may dine in style beneath a specially commissioned Chihuly artwork meant to symbolize the winery’s development. 

According to Jennifer Busmann, executive director of Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country, “the diversity in terroir and all the microclimates” is what sets Oliver Osoyoos apart from other Canadian wine areas and makes it an undiscovered treasure. Within a little area, exquisite pinot noir may be grown, while a mile away, world-class syrah can be found. Across the valley, three vineyards cultivate world-class cabernet franc. 

Additionally, you can now monitor which of the 50 wineries and tasting rooms you’ve visited by collecting stamps on a digital passport. This allows you to access exclusive events, deals, and prizes. Here’s how to arrange a visit to the lesser-known wine area of Canada.

Top Resorts and Hotels

The Watermark Beach Resort

Photo: Watermark Beach Resort

The condo-style accommodations at Watermark Beach Resort, just steps from Osoyoos Lake, come with large patios and views of the beach and mountains. Nestled on the shores of Canada’s warmest lake, the property boasts two swimming pools, outdoor hot tubs, a yoga/pilates studio, an on-site spa, and a marina, all of which contribute to its attractiveness. The award-winning vineyards are easily accessible from the central location, which also features a walking center with coffee shops and small boutiques.

Spirit Ridge Lake Resort

Spirit Ridge Lake Resort from above

Photo: SPIRIT RIDGE LAKE RESORT

The Nk’Mip winery’s Spirit Ridge Lake Resort is surrounded by Anarchist Mountain, Osoyoos Lake, and gently sloping vineyards, all situated among Canada’s sole desert, which is holy to the Osoyoos tribe. There are 226 adobe-style suites with large kitchens, warm fireplaces, and some that allow pets. Visit the Solterra Desert Spa to have a holy mud wrap, or try your skills at the Sonora Dunes Golf Course, which is located nearby. Through multisensory theatrical experiences, the displays at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre teach about the land, traditions, and the history of the country. Also for rent are cottages, an RV park, and a camping directly on the lake underneath the vineyard. 

Villas at Hester Creek

The six Hester Creek Villas include views of the South Okanagan Valley, orchards, and rows of wine vines. Beautiful sunrises over the vineyard, a handmade breakfast, and two electric car charging stations are all included in the Mediterranean-style rooms. Busmann remarked, “The menu at the on-site restaurant Terrafina is fantastic.” Additionally, you may enroll in culinary lessons and prepare cheese and charcuterie boards to savor on the terrace as your children play in the grass to live music. Hester Creek truly elevates each day into a memorable event. 

The Burrowing Owl Guest House

Sonora Room and Burrowing Owl Winery’s exterior

PHOTO: OLIVER OSOYOOS WINE COUNTRY

With ten roomy rooms, the Burrowing Owl Guest House is another establishment that Busmann suggests. Every room features a daily wine country breakfast, a private veranda with views of the 140-acre ecologically friendly vineyard, and a warm fireplace. Swim in the 82-foot outdoor pool or unwind in the all-season hot tub after a strenuous day of cycling among the vineyards. 

Top Activities

The Grape Festival

A guy trampling on grapes

PHOTO: OLIVER OSOYOOS WINE COUNTRY

The only grape stomp in Canada takes place in September each year at Oliver Community Park. Celebrate The Festival of the Grape with 50 wineries from throughout the region, food trucks, live entertainment, and an artisan market. “It’s family-friendly and reminds people that wine doesn’t have to be pretentious,” Busmann continued. A highlight of the event is the stomp, when teams fight to smash the most grapes, eerily reminiscent of the scene from I Love Lucy. We have a fantastic time, create memories, and break bread together.

A Half-Corked Marathon

Wine-fueled runners throng the roads in late May to compete in Canada’s most popular marathon, the renowned Half Corked Marathon. Winery stops throughout the 13.1-mile course, which travels through valleys, vineyards, and the Okanagan River, help to keep the good vibes going. Even T+L covered the event, writing, “You can still pop in to many of the valley’s wineries without a reservation, and tasting fees rarely top $10 CAD per person.” The article highlights the approachable and unpretentious character of wine tourism in the valley.

The Festival of Pig Out

A man at the Pig Out Festival preparing paella

PHOTO: OLIVER OSOYOOS WINE COUNTRY

Wine and grilled meats? Please say yes. Every May, the Pig Out Festival is a family-friendly occasion that highlights regional wines, fresh food, and leisurely outdoor activities. In further detail, Busmann stated, “We always incorporate a theme like ‘May the Pork Be With You,’ where everything was inspired by Star Wars.'” All of the meals are pork-focused. The setting is an outdoor vineyard with award-winning wine, fine food prepared by renowned Canadian chefs, and the juxtaposition of eating with your hands in a stunning vineyard. 

Venables Theatre

See a play at Venables Theatre, a contemporary community theater that hosts a variety of performing arts activities, including performances, dance, music, and programs for young audiences. “Venables Alive!” is available to visitors.”, a local artist series that runs from November to March and includes spoken word poets, actors, musicians, dancers, and comedians. 

International Cycling and Hiking Route

There are some stunning vistas from the International Hike & Bike Trail, whether you are seeking to travel on an e-bike, a regular cycle, or just a lovely strolling trail. The 12.5-mile track starts at the northern tip of Osoyoos Lake and winds past vineyards and farmland along the Okanagan River Channel. It is comparatively level, well-maintained, and accessible via the wooden bridge on Road 22. 

Top Dining Establishments 

Curry Bistro

The Masala Bistro at Kismet Winery is unlike anything else in Oliver. With views of the mountains, a charming vineyard surrounds the contemporary restaurant. Favourites from the traditional Indian menu include lamb vindaloo, butter chicken, tandoori-cooked entire fish, and much more. There is a recommended wine pairing for every meal, and the friendly staff can help you choose the right bottle. “They do some North Indian dishes, which we don’t see a lot of here, and it’s all outstanding,” Busmann continued, expressing his enthusiasm for this establishment. 

The Mexican Cantina TacoRiendo

Jany Lopez, a native of Mazatl√°n, Mexico, moved to the area in 2002. She and her husband opened TacoRienda in 2021, and ever since, the restaurant has been packed with patrons. Busmann brings diners from all over the world to this modest eatery. “I love it. I love to eat and eat and eat and eat and eat,” she said. The menu features hearty classics like tortas, tostadas, and tacos, and the portions are generous.

Phantom Creek Restaurant

The Founder’s Palette

Photo: PHANTOM CREEK WINERY

Visit Phantom Creek Estates for an opulent dining experience. The winery produces delicious bottles of Alsatian whites, single-vineyard Bordeaux reds, and varieties of viognier and syrah from certified organic vineyards. The glass-encased restaurant offers sweeping views of the vineyard, desert, and lake while serving up Indigenous-inspired dishes. For a truly unique dining experience, reserve a seat in the hidden wine cave for the Founder’s Cellar Experience, where guests dine beneath a specially created Chihuly sculpture that symbolizes the evolution of the winery.  

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery’s Sonora Room 

The Sonora Room overlooks the 140-acre vineyard and features a seasonal menu filled with organic produce, artisan bread and cheeses, and thoughtfully prepared meats and seafood that highlight local farmers. The wine list rotates to include a selection of Burrowing Owl library wines no longer publicly available for sale alongside other Okanagan wines. At Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, you can feel the care that the locals have for conservation‚ÄĒevery aspect is dedicated to preserving and growing the local population of burrowing owls.

Ideal Time to Go

Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country is blessed with an abundance of fall foliage. The sunny sky and comfortable temperatures create an ideal setting for riding among the vineyards, stand-up paddling on the lake, and strolling around the about fifty wineries. 

Harvest season begins in September, when Busmann said, “There’s melons, peaches, and apples. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are coming alive.” There’s also the wine harvest, which occurs every September. Any day you visit a winery, you can participate in an informal interactive experience on the crush pad, where they sort or press grapes. September also hosts the annual Festival of the Grape.

“A springtime vineyard. British Columbia’s Okanagan area is in Canada. smoke produced by wildfires. heat-related fog. color picture that is horizontal. Scenery.”

Though many wineries provide unique events such as lighting up the vines, mulled wine pop-ups, and fondue parties against the background of snow-capped vineyards, Oliver Osoyoos’ winter season shouldn’t be discounted. The Half Corked Marathon in May delivers all the springtime fun.

How to Travel There

The closest airports to Oliver Osoyoos Wine Region are the regional Penticton Airport (30 minutes) and the Kelowna International Airport (one hour). Most visitors rent a car from these airports and drive the picturesque route to Oliver, British Columbia; it’s also easily accessible by car from major cities like Vancouver and other parts of Canada.e-bikes are also available at most resorts and hotels. Oliver’s downtown is very walkable and features lots of restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops.

If you don’t want to rent a car, there is a bus service that travels between Kelowna and Oliver. Mountain Man Mike’s can be reserved for $40‚Äď$55, and the trip takes about 2.5 hours. If you arrive by plane in Penticton, there are routes to Oliver that Mountain Man Mike’s runs, or you can take a taxi ($65‚Äď$80, 35 minutes), or take the Line 40 bus ($2 fare, 40 minutes).

Using the estate’s opulent partners, visitors may now arrive at Phantom Creek Estate by private aircraft. 

Other Wineries You Shouldn’t Miss

Surreptitious Vineyard and Farm

Wine-tasting individuals

Photo: OLIVER OSOYOOS WINE COUNTRY

“Wine starts on the farm, and Gene and Shelly have done a variety of things over my lifetime of living here that leads the pack as far as sustainable practices,” Busmann said. Covert Farms Family Estate has been setting the standard for organic, regenerative agriculture since 1959. Covert offers immersive and educational experiences such as tours around the property in the red 1952 truck restored by Gene’s mom, tastings of their award-winning wines, and fields of u-pick fruit and vegetables.

vinAmité

The winemaker at vinAmit√©, Catherine Coulombe, is a trained chef who curates perfectly paired bites and charcuterie offerings in the wine lounge. Busmann continued, “The wines that they’re doing are amazing. Their pinot noir which has faded from the region is delicious. The unique wines, locations, and overall experience is just heartwarming.” The family-owned, ten-year-old winery has a secret weapon.

Nk’Mip Cellars

Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Indigenous-owned and operated winery in North America, is led by winemaker and member of the Osoyoos nation Justin Hall. Known for being the pioneers of riesling ice wine in the region, Nk’Mip has gone on to cultivate a portfolio of award-winning wines that reflect their dedication to preserving the land. The story of Nk’Mip, which has been around for 20 years, is one that is unique and unique in the world of wineries.

Rust Wine Co.

View from Rust Wine Co.’s wine tasting

OWNERED BY RUST WINE CO.

Similar to Oliver Osoyoos, Busmann describes Rust Wine Co. as “New Kids on the Block,” despite the fact that the vineyard and its facilities date back to 1973. “This one hasn’t quite been discovered yet, but they are getting lots of attention as their wines come online. Their zinfandel is especially impressive,” Busmann said. Rust Wine Co. has an outdoor patio, garden, and tasting room. Visitors can submit photos to be used as label material for bottles; creative rust shots from all over British Columbia and beyond are poured over to identify the shots that match specific varietals; the photographer’s name, subject, and location are then printed on the tag.  

Vineyards on Road 13

You know you’re in for something special when you roll up to the Bavarian castle, and Road 13 Vineyards delivers. You can even bring your dog along to relax in their ‚ÄúBarking Lot,‚ÄĚ which is furnished with biscuits and cold water. Below the vineyard patio, rows of wine grapes fan out, and you can enjoy a variety of targeted tastings paired with their famous harvest boards.

How to Navigate

You simply must rent a car in order to fully enjoy your time here. The major car rental companies, such as Enterprise, Avis, Budget, and more, are available at Kelowna International Airport, and there are also kiosks for Budget and National in Penticton. Once in Oliver, there are several e-bike rental shops and e-bike wine safari tours. Busmann concurred that a rental car is essential, saying, “We don’t have the infrastructure for public transportation, but if you’re coming in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, you can enjoy the outdoors using e-bikes for short day trips. It’s physically beautiful riding or driving around the region.‚ÄĚ 

In addition to the Wines of BC Explorer App, which offers information on grapes farmed, maps, dinner wine pairings, and more, don’t forget to download the Wine Country Digital Passport to assist with organizing your vineyard tours and experiences.

Conclusion

  • Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country in British Columbia’s South Okanagan Valley features 4,000 acres of vineyards, the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America (Nk’Mip Cellars), Bavarian castle aesthetics, and diverse terroir contributing to a variety of wines within a small area.
  • The region offers top resorts like Watermark Beach Resort, Spirit Ridge Lake Resort, Villas at Hester Creek, and Burrowing Owl Guest House, providing visitors with scenic views, spa experiences, and proximity to award-winning vineyards.
  • Notable activities include The Grape Festival, Half-Corked Marathon, Festival of Pig Out, Venables Theatre performances, and exploring the International Hike & Bike Trail, showcasing the region’s vibrant cultural and recreational offerings.
  • Top dining establishments such as Curry Bistro, The Mexican Cantina TacoRiendo, Phantom Creek Restaurant, and Burrowing Owl Estate Winery’s Sonora Room offer diverse culinary experiences complemented by local wines, enhancing the overall visit to the Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country.

Join the LUXURIOUX world, and discover a new level of opulence. Our editors and writers are dedicated to finding what is truly the best in class across many facets of life. Experience the finest things only your imagination and money can afford.

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Unveiling the secrets of this unknown Canadian wine area is like stepping into a realm where vineyards stretch across 4,000 acres, history is etched in the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America, and the landscape beckons with exceptional hiking and biking. It's a convergence of nature, culture, and the art of winemaking that invites exploration and appreciation.