Let’s be honest: the real reason most of us head to the Okanagan Valley is to drink allll the wine. And while a day spent touring the Kelowna vineyards is epic on its own, there are a few wineries in the area that manage to kick the experience up a notch by pairing their on-point pinots and robust rosés with stunning scenery, scientific experiments or crazy stories.
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Here are some of the best wineries in Kelowna for those looking for a wine tour that’s outside the box.
If you love music, wine and science, then Frequency Winery is your place. This crazy cool spot in Southeast Kelowna is both a recording studio and winery, thanks to an incredible discovery by their winemakers.
The story goes that the musically-inclined staff used to hold jam sessions near the barrels, and quickly realized that the clarifying process was twice as fast in the barrels sitting closest to the space they rocked out in versus those positioned farther away, due to the harmonic frequencies and vibrations from the songs. #Science FTW. So to speed up the process of removing the sediment, an in-house recording studio was built in Frequency which is offered up free of charge for musicians, and used by about 200 artists per year.
Well worth a stop on a Kelowna wine tour if only for the novelty factor, guests can sip on varietals with clever names like ‘Grateful Vine’ while getting a demo about how the sound waves affect the wine, and wander through the themed space complete with multiple pianos, a drum kit and musical memorabilia.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Summerhill Pyramid Winery is one of the most unique Kelowna wineries, because as the name suggests there’s a huge pyramid in the middle of it. The owners set out to study the effects of geometry on liquids—a concept dating back to ancient times—and built a blindingly white pyramid they say is only second to the Great Pyramid of Egypt when it comes to precision and alignment.
For more than two decades Summerhill has been storing barrels inside, and blind taste tests have found that wine stored in the pyramid for up to three months has a better aroma and is smoother than similar wine aged outside of the pyramid. The vintages are also made from organically and biodynamically grown grapes, and all those efforts have paid off with multiple wins in international wine competitions.
Mission Hill Family Estate
This standout spot is the next best thing you’ll find to a French chateau this side of the pond. Those who haven’t been to Kelowna for years likely won’t recognize the sprawling Mission Hill Family Estate, which underwent a huge transformation in 2002 and now boasts a massive tasting room, a jaw-dropping underground wine cellar, an imposing archway marked by a 5,000-kg limestone cube complete with coat of arms, and a 12-storey bell tower.
The winery also attracts celebs like Prince William and Kate Middleton who visited in 2016, and hosts names like Jewel and Sheryl Crow during their popular summer concert series in the grassy outdoor amphitheatre.
Wine tasting is available for a small fee, and there are also fantastic sommelier-guided tours including one where guests enjoy a behind-the-scenes excursion of the grounds and cellar before tucking into an expertly-paired wine and cheese tasting that showcases some of Mission Hill’s best varietals alongside locally-made charcuterie. Click here to book
the hatch prides itself on being unconventional, which is apparent from the property’s eclectic decor, artsy bottles (ever seen an elephant on a wine label before?), and nonconforming attitude. Basically, it’s every millenial’s dream come true—aside from the fact that there’s no avocado toast to be found.
Family-run Kitsch Wines is another operation that pushes the envelope, known for their wild parties complete with Lamborghinis and helicopters, and a tasting room where pinot noir pours are accompanied by ‘90s hip hop beats. Oh, and the owner once intentionally set fire to the entire property to save money on the cost of properly clearing the land. As you do.
And here’s some fun trivia for Friday Night Lights fans: the family is related to the actor Taylor Kitsch who played Tim Riggins on the popular show, and you just never know when he might drop by for a drink…
50th Parallel Estate Winery
This spot boasts award-winning wines, a beautiful view of the surrounding valley and Okanagan Lake, and a bright, modern space that’s perfect for events. But the real reason you’ll want to make a stop at 50th Parallel Estate Winery is the incredible food.
Their BLOCK ONE restaurant draws inspiration from the west coast with dishes like the dungeness crab cakes with smashed avocado, seared albacore tuna paired with sea asparagus, and wild scallops cooked to perfection in the estate’s wood-fire oven. Other crowd pleasers are the mouth-watering Cache Creek Beef Tartare served with a side of micro arugula and fresh crostini, and the Brant Lake Wagyu Beef Burger which just might be the best burger found on this side of the Rockies.
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Where to stay in Kelowna
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort– This swanky spot has an enviable location right on the water and is just steps away from downtown. With beautiful rooms, an outdoor pool area with a bar, plenty of resort activities and fantastic dining options, the Grand Okanagan Resort is without question one of the best places to stay in Kelowna. Click here to book
- Hotel Zed– This funky spot in the heart of downtown is across the street from a park and just around the corner from some of Kelowna’s best restaurants. Its motel-like setup is big on personality, from the vibrant murals to the ping pong room and rotary phones, which makes this a great option for the younger crowd. Click here to book
- Hotel Eldorado– This hotel boasts one the city’s top outdoor patios thanks to its perch on the waterfront. There are plenty of on-site amenities guests can enjoy including water sports, yoga and a pool, and the views are sublime. Click here to book
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