This article was published on June 11th, 2017
Located in the southern interior of British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley is known as the best outdoor playground for summer and winter activities including skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, hiking, mountain biking, golfing, fishing, boating, beaches, and more. The Okanagan Valley is also a world-class wine region with award-winning wineries and distilleries. Adulting has never been more fun than in this region of Canada–located just five hour’s drive from Vancouver. If you love small batch, crafted beverages, made with love and local ingredients, the North Okanagan is a great place to get your drink on.
Start with wine:
Gray Monk Winery is the flagship winery of the North Okanagan with the tasting room open daily. Pioneers in the BC wine industry, the Heiss family started their winemaking business in 1972, after moving from Europe via Edmonton, Alberta. The Heiss’s helped to champion the start of the wine industry in British Columbia. Gray Monk Winery has won plenty of awards over the years, including most recently 3 gold, 4 silvers, and 2 bronzes at the 2015 All Canada Wine Championships.
The adjacent Grapevine Restaurant and Patio is open in the summer, with an outdoor patio to soak up the hot, Okanagan summer sun. The restaurant features plenty of fresh, local ingredients and all menu items paired with Grey Monk wine, making your beverage selection simple. Can’t choose just one? Try different wines by getting the wine flights.
It’s easy to make an afternoon of wine tasting in the area; there are a number of other wineries within a few moments-drive away in the surrounding area.
Or side with cider:
Because the Okanagan has an abundance of apples, cider is in order! BX Press Cider and Orchard is Vernon’s handcraft cidery, with a branch to bottle operation. BX Press is a 3rd generation, family operation of apple farmers—a real local’s secret! Everything is done on site and by hand, preservative free and with no water added. Instead of adding artificial flavours, they take advantage of the local agriculture and use real fruit and herbs to infuse. You can taste real hops and berries in each bottle.
If you’re not familiar with drinking ciders, BX Press has a wide-range of gateway style ciders that are popular with beer drinkers (Crack Whip: tastes like a light ale), and wine drinkers (Prospector: tastes like champagne). BX Press has a tasting bar right beside the orchard, which makes for a super cool experience! They share their roots through stories of their history with the Barnard Express. Grab a bottle of cool, crisp apple cider – perfect for any hot, summer day in the Okanagan.
How about some spirits!
Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery is an incredible, topnotch spirit company: an undiscovered gem of craft spirits. They were the first distillery in British Columbia and started making brandy in 2004. Just like BX Press and Cidery, Okanagan Spirits and Craft Distillery has taken advantage of the abundance of apples from the local growers to produce an apple-based neutral spirit. What’s more is that all their grains for their spirits come from the Okanagan; they grow their own barley, rye and wheat. They truly make the most out of the abundance from the region.
With two stills on site – a small 5 plate still for making base spirits, and a large custom-made 50-plate still (completely unheard of – it’s amazing just to see!), Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery produces the highest quality and proof in their spirits.
Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery makes brandy, vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon, fruit liqueurs (cherry, apricot, cranberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, black currant, haskap, and more), and absinthe.
Drink like a pro:
Stop watering down your vodka cran’s. Simply mix vodka with Okanagan Spirits Cranberry Liqueur and you’ll have the most delicious, flavourful, and ass-kicking cocktail this Pride season.
The North Okanagan is more than just beaches and boating. This summer, stop and take a sip of the delicious North Okanagan. This is just the start. There are plenty of other spots to visit along the way including breweries and cocktail lounges.
Drink during the day, then relax and enjoy the natural beauty and settings of Predator Ridge, a luxury vacation resort where you can go to bed listening to the frogs croaking and awake to birds chirping – the best night sleep you’ll get!
Make the most out of your summer visit and visit Tourism Vernon for more suggestions on fun things to do while in the area.
Drink responsibly. Don’t drink and drive. You can go on a pre-arranged tour or hire a local charter car/van/luxury bus to take you on a tour. Besides, it’s better to let someone else do the driving so you can focus on the drinking.