Wine Touring is one of the Okanagan’s greatest activities, but how can you ensure that you have the perfect wine tour experience in Kelowna? Each group is unique and will enjoy different aspects of wine touring, so to curate the perfect trip we start by asking these five questions:
- How much time do you have?
This is one of the first questions we ask our clients. Do you want to tour for a full day or half day? For a lot of our guests, half a day tasting wine (typically five wineries) can be more than enough for a great tasting experience! If you are only looking to do a half day tour, try to minimize your driving time and choose a region with wineries that are close together such as West Kelowna, Lake Country or Summerland! Full day tours can be spectacular when you plan them right too! Starting around 9:30am or 10:00am (many wineries don’t open until 10am!), make sure to include at least 1.5 hours for a nice lunch stop at one of the incredible winery restaurants. When planning a full day tour, consider a region you may not have visited before – maybe Okanagan Falls or the Naramata Bench region? You can break up the drive with tasting stops in West Kelowna & Summerland on the way too!
- Do you want to include a lunch or dinner stop?
Including a lunch or dinner stop can be a great addition to a wine tour. Taking a lunch break during a full day tour is great, but what about starting an afternoon tour after a beautiful lunch or concluding a great day of touring with a winery dinner? Some wine tour companies offer a package where they will pick you up after dinner too, so yes, order that second glass of Merlot…
- What kind of wines do you like?
Different regions can feature different types of wine. If you are solely a white wine drinker, a trip to Lake Country might be the perfect fit! The climate in that norther region has developed incredible sparkling, white & rosé wines… and maybe give Pinot Noir a try (especially at 50th Parallel Estate Winery), it’s a softer red wine! If bigger & bolder is your style of red wines you should consider heading South. The extremely dry desert climate of the Naramata Region has produced some of the tastiest reds in the valley. If you are like us, and literally love ALL wine, try a region that has some cool and unique wine shops. The East Kelowna Wine Route includes the Vibrant Vine Winery who hand out 3D glasses upon arrival for you to enjoy their stunning artwork and 3D labels on their wine bottles. Or learn about the impact that sound waves have on the wine making process at Frequency Winery.
- What are your wine buying intentions?
Is the purpose of your trip to restock your wine cellar or are you out for a fun day testing your palate? If you are hoping for private or exclusive tastings of certain wines for your cellar, these types of tastings can be arranged in advance and sometimes even with the Sommelier or Wine Maker themselves! If you are planning to buy and don’t want to break the bank, it’s also good to keep in mind the average price of a bottle of wine at the wineries you are visiting.
Pro Tip: Set your wine buying budget ahead of time so there are no surprises on your credit card statement when you get home (and yes, I say this from experience!). A good rule of thumb when wine touring is to pick 2 bottles from each winery and try to buy at least one bottle of bubbly, white, rosé and red wine for a fun selection when you get home!
Keep a look out for case discounts (ie. save 10% to 15% if you buy 12 bottles), you can often mix & match cases too, so if 12 bottles of the same wine seem like a big commitment, try and throw in another varietal or two!
- Should you book with a tour company?
First things first, don’t drink and drive! Five 1oz tasters of wine = a glass of wine and typically you will consume all 5 tasters within 20 minutes during a tasting. So, after hitting one or two wineries you’ll be pushing the legal limit very quickly! Thank goodness there are over 60 wine tour companies in the Okanagan Valley. When choosing which wine tour company to book, check out their online reviews, ask your friends & family for recommendations or call a local concierge (like us!) before booking.
After considering those five questions, you should have a pretty good idea as to what the perfect wine tour would be for you and your group! Wine touring is meant to be fun, informative and delicious – if you have any questions or need some guidance on planning the perfect wine tour, contact our team for customized recommendations!