Canada’s wine scene is taking root
The first aboriginal winery in North America is located in Canada’s only desert, where the Okanagan river meets Lake Osoyoos. It is owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band of the Okanagan Nation. Stay on the property at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa, modelled after a pueblo village. Members of the Osoyoos band give guided walks through the desert and explain the history of the tribe and the ecology. They will even show you an example of housing used several hundred years ago. In the summer, the resort holds traditional salmon feasts on the patio, complete with native dancers and drummers. Make sure to taste the winery’s syrah and pinot blanc.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
For those with champagne tastes (and budgets to match), this luxury property looks like a sprawling Tuscan villa dropped into the desert. It offers high-end wine, gourmet locavore dining and hotel rooms with private balconies nestled in the middle of the vineyard. Schreiner recommends the self-guided tour. Take home a bottle of pinot gris, chardonnay or cabernet franc.
Poplar Grove Winery
Home to some of the Okanagan Valley’s oldest vines, this winery produces excellent cabernet franc — a grape well suited to the cooler climate. Enjoy a bottle of it now or cellar it up to 12 years. In July, the winery opened its new facility built into the side of Munson Mountain. A wall of windows in the tasting room lets the sunshine in and provides an unobstructed view of Lake Okanagan. Stop by the winery’s cheese shop on your way out to gather provisions for an impromptu picnic.
Wild Goose Winery
The back roads leading to this vineyard are less travelled; you might even come across a mountain goat or two. From the outside, this small family-run winery which specializes in Riesling and Gewurztraminer might come off as plain. But inside, you will almost always find a member of the Kruger family in the tasting room, chatting to customers. Feel free to bring the whole clan: kids and nondrinkers are given fruit juice while the grown-ups take a tipple.