Summerland Wines

After an amazing sleep and a delicious breakfast at Glenoka we set off well prepared for a day of touring wineries and the other attractions of Summerland. The town boasts over 10 wineries all within a short drive of where we were staying and even though it was raining we figured we could pass an enjoyable half day at a couple of wineries. We did a wine tour in Argentina and really enjoyed it and had plans for a similar (but independent and car based) day in Summerland visiting the wineries on the Bottleneck Drive Wine Route.

Our first stop for the day wasn’t a winery but the Summerland Trout Hatchery. The visitor centre opens at 10 am so after a quick coffee from Good Omens Coffee House we stopped by to see what exactly was happening with trout in Summerland. The visitor’s centre is probably one of the best I’ve visited – great videos about how the hatchery works, lots of information on different fish species and knowledgable staff. We got a guided tour that included a chance to see some rainbow trout up close in the aquarium and a tour of the different stages of the hatchery. The tour ends with an opportunity to feed a few of the brood stock that they have there (only one tank as most of their eggs come from wild fish). I would recommend it (we spent about an hour), especially on rainy day.

After the fish we headed to The Vinegar Works to see what one did at a vinegar tasting room. It wasn’t on our original plan for the day but on a whim we stopped and it was one of my favorites for the day. No, you do not do shots of vinegar but we did sniff and taste seven different vinegars made from grapes and fruits grown on the farm. The owner, John, was a great host and we left with a better appreciation for the role of vinegar in cooking and a few bottles to try in our recipes.

Right next door is the Saxon Winery and we walked over past the grape vines to taste a few wines and meet the owner. We sampled six wines and walked out with three bottles and a love for Gewürztraminer. This was really only the start as we followed it up with a visit to Thornhaven Estates, Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery and Summerland Sweets (for some syrup tasting) all before lunch. We stopped at the very popular Dirty Laundry Vineyard which had a beautiful location but too many people in the tasting room for us to stick around. We loved stopping in places where it was just us, or a few other people, and getting the chance to really chat about the wines as we sampled. The area is beautiful and even though it was cloudy and raining at times, I was blown away by the landscape. Each winery was in a spectacular location.

After lunch we visited the very small Summergate, Heaven’s Gate Winery, Silkscarf, Sonoran Estate Winery and finally 8th Generation Vineyards. We sampled over 30 wines, none of which were the same, and tried many wines that I’d never even heard of. We picked up something from every winery (there was always at least one we liked) and at the end of the day we had 18 bottles in the trunk!

It was a very enjoyable day – we haven’t got to spend a day like that together in a long time without the nagging feeling that we should be doing something else. We’re going to return to the Okanagan, perhaps a little further south, to do this again another summer because we’re both completely in love with the area. We met quite a few Albertans who are now settled in Summerland and I totally get it. Good thing that we’ve got lots of different wines to help us capture the feeling of Summerland until we can visit again.

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