If it was my first visit to the Okanagan and I could do only one Kelowna wine tour, I would choose the Bare Wine Tours Private West Kelowna Wine tour with my friends. Like a good mixtape (or Spotify playlist for the younger generation) each song should leave you wanting to hit repeat, but not monotonously merge into each other. Similarly, a good variety of wineries prevents your day from becoming bland.
Stop 1 - Mission Hill Family Estate Winery - ‘a grand & glamorous winery’
I think without understanding history, it’s often hard to appreciate the present. Therefore, I’d start my day with what was really one of the main catalysts in the Okanagan becoming a great wine destination. Anthony Von Mandl graduated from UBC and became a successful wine importer in the 1970s before buying Mission Hill in 1981. Just over a decade later the 1992 vintage won international acclaim as the best Chardonnay, cementing the Okanagan as a wine destination.
Alternative if unavailable - Quails Gate Estate Winery (Another sophisticated historic winery)
Stop 2 - The Hatch - ‘creative, alternative & trendy winery’
In 2015 the Hatch was born, and I believe resonated with a whole new wine tasting cohort. They threw out the rules and etiquette often associated with some more ostentatious wineries. They were the beginning of a more relaxed, fun and hip movement in the Okanagan wine industry. Not afraid to take risks, be different, but still able to produce great wines. Such rapid success has resulted in the growth of another 2 new wineries, a cidery, and a brewery being spun out of the Hatch team within 7 years.
Alternative if unavailable - Black swift winery or Crown & Thieves winery (both are also Jason Parkes owned wineries)
Stop 3 - Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery - ‘modern, and polished winery’
This historic vineyard and winery built a new modern 15,000 square-foot wine centre, and restaurant in 2020. Named after the West Kelowna historic landmark volcano it has reactivated itself as a hot must visit wine destination. The Modest Butcher provides an excellent casual farm to table dining experience, and we highly recommend it for your lunch stop on your wine tour. The clean lines and new design of the building really take advantage of the views of the Okanagan lake and make for a great experience.
Alternative if unavailable - Volcanic Hills Estate Winery
Stop 4 - Frind Winery - ‘chill and walk on the beach winery’
The first beachfront winery in North America is the perfect representation of the Okanagan lifestyle. It’s one of the newest wineries in West Kelowna and part of a growing trend of successful entrepreneurs starting wineries in the Okanagan. Markus Frind sold the Plenty of Fish dating app to be more hands-on and merge his family roots in farming with his other passion of technology.
Alternative if unavailable - Indigenous World Winery
Stop 5 - Off the Grid Organic Winery - ‘earth & animal friendly winery’
One of the very best small family winery experiences awaits you on the latest winery bench of West Kelowna. The Paynter family has deep roots in farming from cattle to fruit to the latest generation's obsession for growing and making sustainable organic wine. It’s not easy, but they sure have made a beautiful place to visit overlooking West Kelowna. Enjoy the Goats bleating on top of the solar panel roof line of the rustic wine tasting room made completely with natural materials.
Alternative if unavailable - Beaumont Family Estate Winery or Kalala Organic Estate Winery
I want to be very clear, all the wineries in Kelowna are worth visiting, and I plan on visiting them all regularly each year. This article was an exercise to assist new visitors to Kelowna with limited time. This post draws upon my most recent experiences, and perspective only. My opinion will likely change in 2024, and luckily I live here, and I don’t need to limit myself with these choices! Shout outs and love to all the wineries of Kelowna will follow in other blog posts.