Ever since my days in hospitality, I’ve been fascinated with wine and all of its many characteristics. As a graduate of the WSET Level 3, I’ve had my fair share of tastings and tests, all while learning the ins and outs of what makes wine the way it is; and while I feel like I’ve learned a ton, I’ve really only touched the surface.
While my F&B Manager days may be over, I still love to learn about wine and never turn down an opportunity to try something new. This summer I had the opportunity to extend a trip out West and decided to explore Kelowna and the Okanagan. A few days in the beautiful hillside vineyards was exactly what I needed.
While I am normally an over-planner when it comes to any type of travel, I’ve had such a busy Spring travelling for work, that I admittedly left this one a little under-researched. A little adventure is good for the soul, and I was lucky to have an easy-going travel partner who was down for just about anything.
When travelling with friends, I always think it’s important to discuss what kind of trip you’re looking for. Will this be a wild, late-night, party filled trip, or more of a relaxing, bring your favourite book, sleep in every morning kind of vacation? Being aware of each others expectations is key to a successful trip.
Britt and I had spoken several times over the last few months and had agreed we were both looking to focus on exploring the famous Canadian wine region of the Okanagan, while still being flexible to enjoy what Kelowna had to offer.
Below are some of my favourites!
Krafty: located a few blocks from the main street in downtown Kelowna, Krafty offers a killer weekday hip hop brunch. With a cute patio and low key vibe, Krafty was the perfect stop for our arrival lunch. The background beats are some of the classics, and the fried chicken club was dreamy!
Tip: The fries are WORTH IT - they’re fat and delicious, with a soft inside and a crispy crunchy outside
Oak&cru- Located at the Delta Grand, Oak&Cru has a daily happy hour from 3:00 - 6:00 and 10 - close. The outdoor patio has a misting feature to help beat the heat, and beautiful views of the pond and mountains. While we didn’t eat here, the cocktails were tasty!
BNA- If you’re looking for an evening vibe, BNA is the one all the locals recommend. This two floor gem features the perfect mix of lounge seating and more traditional tables, as well as the option to hit up the bowling alley, or chill at the bar and try the beers on tap. While known primarily as a craft brewery, BNA has a large list of curated cocktails and some delicious eats. As an amateur craft beer drinker, I let our super helpful bartender pick my flight and was pleasantly surprised!
Tip: This place would be amazing for a networking or casual business event. The laid back vibe and on-site games makes it the perfect atmosphere for an event.
Bread Co (Bernard St location) - On a rainy morning we headed down to Bread Co for some breakfast. It’s fresh birch and blue aesthetic were the coziest welcome. With tons of breakfast and lunch options, there’s something for everyone; from a traditional breakfast for $10, to all the baked goods you could dream of!
Tip: On Tuesday’s they offer 2$ small latte’s or cappuccinos. If you’re like me and need a milk alternative, the have those too for a small additional fee.
Experience wine tours-
If you’re looking for a professional tour company, these guys are the real deal. With knowledgeable tour guides and excellent connections at the best wineries, you’re sure to have a great day. They are slightly more expensive than some of the competitors, but they keep the group sizes small (10-12ish) and the extra few dollars means you get like-minded tour pals (read: less likely to get obnoxious groups of 19 year olds). We were lucky enough to visit 6 wineries, and I have to say, each one offered something unique. While touring on your own is always an option, it’s definitely a treat to have someone else do all the work and planning. Each winery knew we were coming, so we never had to wait!
For lunch, we were treated to a delicious charcuterie board with amazing views from La Stella winery.
The wineries we visited were:
You may think one day of wine touring was enough, but we just couldn’t help ourselves and actually went two days in a row! We were lucky enough to have some local contacts in Kelowna that took us around to some of their favourites, and then squeezed in a visit to Mission Hill and Quails Gate too.
Summerhill- While this is definitely one of the most popular wineries in Kelowna, it also was the busiest. They have stunning views and a great outdoor patio for lunch, but the tasting room was quite busy with local bus tours. Summerhill does a great job with vegan wines, and our tasting room associate was super knowledgeable.
Tip: They have a great looking lunch menu, but be mindful of the time! We made the mistake of arriving around 3:30 and they were only offering a ‘shareable’ menu.
Fun Fact: The owner of Summerhill has built a pyramid on the property that you can tour at designated times!
Quail’s Gate- We managed to arrive at Quail’s Gate 20 minutes before the tasting room closed and I am so glad we did! The tasting bar has beautiful views and some excellent options.
Tip: If you’re planning on eating dinner there, reservations are definitely recommended. If you just want to get a drink, I recommend purchasing a bottle! They’ll even let you take it in to the vineyard with plastic cups to enjoy as you explore.