It’s easy to have a good time in the Okanagan, especially when it’s summer. I should know – I live here. Go ahead, be jealous. It’s okay. After all, living in vacationland could have the same tag line as that credit card commercial: membership has its privileges.
But in the summer, anyone can be a member of the Okanagan and we like it that way. This is what summer vacations are made of: floating along the channel in Penticton, renting a boat and ripping it up wake-board-style in Osoyoos, golfing at one of the dozens of greenways.
And, of course – there’s wine touring. You wouldn’t be here (I mean here, on this site) if it wasn’t for your love¬†of Okanagan wine. Good for you.
I already said it’s easy to have a good time here, and it’s true. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our secrets, tips and tricksto make summer wine touring – and Okanagan visiting – even better. You can get a ton of information from the Tourism BC website to help navigate your way from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos, but we all know what the real secret to great travel is: getting the goods from a local.
I’m a local. Okay – so I haven’t lived here my whole life and¬†by small town rules that means I’m not a local yet. But I’ll bet I¬†drink way more wine¬†than many of the locals do, so if you’re in for a wine-ing good time, then I’m your gal to listen to.
There’s too much information to give to you in just one post, so this will¬†be spread out a bit. Consider it my gift to you – it’s the stuff I wish I knew heading in to this wine-touring gig years ago. You might know some (or all) of this already; if so, think of it as a summer-school refresher course. A really, really fun one.
wine touring 101
Bring snacks. It sounds silly, and something¬†your mom might have said before you went off to your first day-trip without her, but it’s vital for surviving wine touring and tasting. Sure, tasting rooms might have little palate cleansers – even a bit of cheese, perhaps. That just won’t cut it. Grab a baguette – or two – and some of our great local cheeses to munch on as you go about your day.
Hydrate yourself. Whether you’re wakeboarding, sunbathing, golfing or wine-touring, you’ll need H2O. It’s a freakin’¬†desert, people. Dryness like you may not have experienced before. Water. Lots of it.
Book ahead. Accommodations get snapped up in a jiffy around these parts come summer, even tenting. Do the online reservation thing or pick up the phone. That works for a few of our wineries, too, which leads us into…
Do your research. If you have a favourite winery you want to visit, be sure to check out their website or give them a call before you make the trek from wherever you’re from. A few spots require an appointment, usually to give you extra-special attention while you’re visiting them. Love the Carmenere by Black Hills? Call ‘em up ahead of time and book a seat for their ultra-lounge wine tasting uber-experience. Got a weakness for Blue Mountain bubble? You’re not alone – but get in touch with them early so they can make an appointment for a tasting.
Take the road less travelled. This might seem to fly in the face of the recommendation above, but no – quite the opposite. It’s by going down the road you didn’t know was there that you can often find that little gem buried in the wilderness – or just along a side street. That’s how I first found Blue Mountain. No, we didn’t get in for a tasting that day…but I found them, which I think is the bigger gain.
Try something new. You’re doing wine tasting, after all. Don’t just stick with the “I-like-big-reds-so-just-pour-me-the-cab-sauv-and-if-you-don’t-have-any-of-that-then-I’ll-wait-outside” line. You’re in a tasting room.¬†Only drink aromatic whites? Who cares! Try that pinot noir you’ve heard about. Isn’t tasting exactly why you’re here? Live a little. You might surprise yourself.
Mix it up. Just because you’re wine touring doesn’t mean you can’t take in a festival or event while you’re in the area – and stumble upon it. Houseboating in the Shuswap? Get thee to a winery, like Granite Creek (their fortified merlot is dee-lish). These things don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Have fun. You’re on vacation.
We’re just scratching the surface of what can help take your Okanagan summer from great to fantabulous. This is the entry-level stuff, a kind of introductory course for those unfamiliar with our area – or an easy refresher for those seasoned Okanagan travel veterans.¬† Stay tuned for more, including some secrets that only locals know about and share with good friends. You’re our good friend, right?
Happy summer, wherever you are. It’s a great time to un*wine*d with a bottle of BC wine. Get over here and get some.