Planning

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Planning

When to Go

The Okanagan hosts a wine festival in May, to open the season, and in early October, to close the season; both weekends are fun and busy times to visit. High season is defined from wine festival to wine festival.

The hot dry summer, especially July and August, is peak season here, and weekends get crowded. May and June are quieter, and most wineries are open, so either month can be a good alternative to the midsummer peak.

However, September just might be the best time for an Okanagan wine-tasting trip. Everything is still open, the weather is generally fine, and the vineyards are full of grapes ready to pick. Many wineries release new wines in the fall, so there are more tasting options.

In winter, the Okanagan becomes a popular ski destination, with several low-key but first-rate resorts. If your main objective is wine touring, though, many wineries close or reduce their hours from November through April.

Making the Most of Your Time

Three days from Vancouver is barely enough time to enjoy the Okanagan; five days to a week would be optimal.

The best place to start a wine-tasting tour is at one of the two area wine info centers (Kelowna or Penticton). You can get an overview of the area's wines, get help in organizing your time, and usually taste a wine or two.

We've included a selection of the best wineries, but our list is only a fraction of the Okanagan's more than 200 producers. Because new wineries open every year, ask for recommendations at your hotel, or simply stop in when you see an appealing sign.

Tour Options

Monashee Adventure Tours has full- or half-day bike- and wine-tour combinations, and other tours around the Okanagan. Arbutus Routes also has biking tours of the Okanagan wine country.

With Okanagan Limousine you can tour the wine area in chauffeur-driven style. It offers half-day and full-day tours to wineries in Kelowna, Summerland/Peachland, Naramata, Oliver/Osoyoos, and Okanagan Falls. Okanagan Wine Country Tours offers narrated three-hour, four-hour, and full-day wine-country tours. There's even a floatplane tour over the lush valleys to the Okanagan's Golden Mile near Oliver. Distinctly Kelowna Tours pairs winery visits with walking excursions, zip-lining, and other adventures.

Contacts

Arbutus Routes (604/935-7566. www.arbutusroutes.com.)

Distinctly Kelowna Tours (250/979-1211 or 866/979-1211. www.distinctlykelownatours.ca.)

Monashee Adventure Tours (250/762-9253 or 888/762-9253. www.monasheeadventuretours.com.)

Okanagan Limousine (250/717-5466 or 866/336-3133. www.ok-limo.com.)

Okanagan Wine Country Tours (250/868-9463 or 866/689-9463. www.okwinetours.com.)

Visitor Information

The knowledgeable staff at the British Columbia VQA Wine Information Centre will tell you what's new at area wineries and help you plan a self-drive winery tour. The center also stocks more than 500 local wines and offers complimentary tastings daily. It's a good place to stop and find out about places to stay and eat.

Hello BC has information about the province, including the Okanagan. The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association is the main tourism contact for the Okanagan. Towns like Osoyoos, Kelowna, and Penticton have visitor information centers, though not all are open year-round. Some, like Discover Naramata, are virtual only.

Local Tourist Information

British Columbia VQA Wine Information Centre (553 Railway St., Penticton, BC, V2A 8S3. 250/490–2006. www.pentictonwineinfo.com. July–Aug., daily 9–7; Sept.–June, Mon.–Sat. 9–6, Sun. 10–5.)

Destination Osoyoos (250/495-5070 or 888/676-9667. www.destinationosoyoos.com.)

Discover Naramata (www.discovernaramata.com.)

Hello BC (800/435-5622. www.hellobc.com.)

Penticton & Wine Country Visitor Information Centre (250/493-4055 or 800/663-5052. www.tourismpenticton.com.)

Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (250/860-5999. www.totabc.com.)

Tourism Kelowna (250/861-1515 or 800/663-4345. www.tourismkelowna.com.)

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