It’s outdoor wine-sipping season, otherwise known as summer. And if there’s one thing better than a cold drink on a patio, it’s sampling that drink in the midst of a sunny vineyard.
Not only is Penticton a hot spot for touring award-winning wineries, you’ll find specialty drinks for all ages (yes, kids too!). More than 50 tasting rooms are within short reach, including wineries, craft breweries, distilleries, cideries and even a craft fizzery (soda).
Sip your way through summer with this tasty sampling of all Penticton has to offer.
BC Tasting Rooms in Penticton
Naramata Bench is believed to have the highest concentration of wineries in B.C. In fact, it’s so densely populated with tasting rooms, you can ride your bike between them. Hop on the Kettle Valley Rail trail and simply watch for “wine detour” signs for a quick refuelling pit stop. You can have drinks and lunch on the patios or a picnic amongst the vines.
Why is Okanagan wine touring so special? Well, for one, you won’t find the same cellar door sales experience in France. Even in the Napa Valley, many tastings are by appointment only, and it’s often expensive.
Also, many of the wineries in the area have on-site restaurants, unlike the Napa Valley, which has zoning restrictions. Thirdly, the wineries around Penticton have more than 75 grape varietals, so there’s a huge diversity of what you can taste and buy (think red, white, rosé, bubbles, fruit wines and more).
Mix up your tasting adventures by sampling the wares of local distilleries. Specifically, you’ll find three in the area, including Old Order Distilling Co., featuring vodka made with B.C. barley, gin featuring fruits from a Summerland farm, and liqueurs made with B.C. berries. You can take a distillery tour or simply drop in to the tasting room and cocktail lounge.
Maple Leaf Spirits specializes in spirits and liqueurs handcrafted from Okanagan fruit, grapes and wine. Legend Distilling in Naramata specializes in small batch spirits, with a tasting room and patio.
Where there’s apples, there’s cider. And in the Okanagan, there are plenty of both. You’ll find four cideries within a short drive of Penticton, all of which use local fruit.
If you’ve paid a visit to the Port Moody breweries lately, you’ll notice a new recent addition to their cider offerings. Dominion Cider is a Penticton company and their tasting room is a peaceful spot the midst of Summerland orchards. You’ll also find tasting rooms at Summerland Heritage Cider Co., Nomad Cider (Summerland), and Naramata Cider Co.
As if great beaches, vistas and vineyards aren’t enough, Penticton has cranked up the fun metre with its selection of craft breweries – all of which offer tastings.
If you missed the Penticton Beer Run this month, which involved running from brewery to brewery along the Ale Trail, you might want to follow in its trails. Highlights include Tin Whistle Brewing Co., Barley Mill, Cannery Brewing, Highway 97 Brewery, and Bad Tattoo Brewing, which offers behind-the-scenes brewery tours. Within a 20-minute drive – probably too far to run – you can also sample Detonate Brewing in Summerland.
Craft Soda and Crazy Shakes
Cue watermelon-sized kid grins. Craft soda is the stuff of legend, and you don’t have to be a child to enjoy this simple, non-alcoholic, pleasure.
The People’s Soda Co. is the only craft soda tasting room in western Canada. This “fizzery” takes soda back to its roots, using natural ingredients to create a product that’s not pumped full of sugar, preservatives and colours. Pull up a stool at the tasting bar to sample the flavours, ranging from root beer to cream soda and kola.
If travelling with kids, another pit stop that will blow their minds is to the giant orange peach on Okanagan Lake. This ice cream shop is notorious for Crazy Shakes: milkshakes topped with cakes. Sadly, they don’t have a sampling tasting bar (yet).
… And the price?
Tastings at each location generally range from free to $7, and they waive the fee if you buy a bottle.
Guest post submitted by Katya Holloway. Whether it’s a glass of bubbly at a Sydney red carpet event, a white wine in London’s Clapham Common, or a pinot noir in an Okanagan vineyard, Katya Holloway’s tastes have travelled the world. A former travel writer, magazine editor and Vancouver Sun copy editor, she has worked in the U.K. and Australia, now back home in beautiful B.C.