Canadian Wine Country: A Weekend in the Okanagan Valley



By Kori ~ August 14th, 2009.

Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, B.C.We recently spent a long weekend in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada, relaxing, visiting family friends, and of course, wine tasting. The Okanagan Valley is Canada’s most well-known wine region. Located about 100 miles east of Vancouver, B.C., it is about a six hour drive from Seattle. The Okanagan Valley stretches over 100 kilometers from the United States-Canada border near Osoyoos north to Salmon Arm.

On this particular trip, we spent our time in the South Okanagan around the towns of Osoyoos, Oliver, Penticton, and Naramata. We visited a total of nine wineries and tasted 69 wines. Many of the area wineries boast gorgeous settings overlooking one of three lakes, Osoyoos Lake, Skaha Lake, and Okanagan Lake. For overall wine quality, our best stops were at Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs. Both Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs are owned by Vincor Canada, a division of Constellation Brands.

Icewines at Inniskillin OkanaganInniskillin Okanagan was acquired in 1996 by Inniskillin Niagara. Except for the same ownership, Inniskillin Okanagan and Inniskillin Niagara are run as separate entities with their own winemakers and own vineyards. Inniskillin Okanagan uses all B.C. grown grapes and produces about 25,000 cases per year. They make good wines across the board but are particularly well-known for their icewines.

Jackson-Triggs is arguably Canada’s most celebrated winery. Founded in the 1980s by Allan Jackson and Don Triggs, Jackson-Triggs produces between 100,000 and 120,000 cases per year. We would easily recommend all nine of their wines that we tasted but were particularly impressed with their icewines and Shirazes.

The countryside is beautiful, the locals are extremely nice folks, and all nine wineries we visited had well-equipped tasting rooms. Every winery provided a take-home tasting sheet with their wine information on it, most provided water and crackers to cleanse your palate, and a few even provided personal spit cups in addition to dump buckets. In addition to the tasting room amenities, the region itself is very visitor-friendly with excellent wine route signage that points travelers to the local wineries.

Tasting Room at Jackson-TriggsThe only downside is that many of the wineries in the Okanagan Valley do not export their wines to the United States. Obviously, you can buy the wine when you visit and bring it home with you (you’ll have to pay some taxes depending on how much you bring back), but you won’t be able to go down the street to your local wine shop and pick up a bottle of your favorite Okanagan Valley wine on a regular basis.

For those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest or are planning to visit, make time to venture north to visit wineries in the Okanagan Valley. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted in the Okanagan Valley. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $60 [375ml], QPR: 4
2007 Inniskillin Tempranillo Icewine Discovery Series, Okanagan Valley, $99.99 [375ml], QPR: 2

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2006 Township 7 Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $24.99, QPR: 5
2006 Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Shiraz, Okanagan Valley, $25.99, QPR: 5
2005 Hester Creek Reserve Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $25.99, QPR: 5
2006 Mistral Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, $29.90, QPR: 5

2006 Lang Vineyards Riesling Farm Reserve, Okanagan Valley, $19.90, QPR: 4
2006 Inniskillin Malbec Discovery Series, Okanagan Valley, $24.99, QPR: 4
2006 Hester Creek Reserve Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, $25.99, QPR: 4
2006 Jackson-Triggs SunRock Vineyard Shiraz, Okanagan Valley, $35, QPR: 4
2008 Gehringer Brothers Minus 9 Ehrenfelser Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $46.99 [375ml], QPR: 4
2007 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $52.99 [375ml], QPR: 3
2006 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Riesling Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $52.99 [375ml], QPR: 3

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2006 Tinhorn Creek Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $18.99, QPR: 5
2007 Tinhorn Creek Kerner Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $24.99 [375ml], QPR: 5
2006 Township 7 Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, $25.99, QPR: 5

2007 Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, $17.99, QPR: 4
2006 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Shiraz, Okanagan Valley, $19.99, QPR: 4
2006 Township 7 Syrah, Okanagan Valley, $24.99, QPR: 4
2005 Hester Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, $34.99, QPR: 4
2008 Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc, Okanagan Valley, $14.99, QPR: 3
2008 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Rosé, Okanagan Valley, $14.99, QPR: 3
2007 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Viognier, Okanagan Valley, $15.99, QPR: 3
2008 Hester Creek Semillon Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $15.99, QPR: 3
2008 Gehringer Brothers Dry Rock Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley, $15.99, QPR: 3
2006 Inniskillin Chenin Blanc Discovery Series, Okanagan Valley, $16.99, QPR: 3
2007 Lang Vineyards Grand Pinot White, British Columbia, $18.90, QPR: 3
2006 Inniskillin Meritage Single Vineyard Series Dark Horse Estate Vineyard, Okanagan Valley, $24.99, QPR: 3
2007 Gehringer Brothers Riesling Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $46.99 [375ml], QPR: 3
2005 Mistral Grand Reserve, Okanagan Valley, $39.90, QPR: 2
2007 Mistral Gamay Icewine, Similkameen Valley, $54.90 [375ml], QPR: 2

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2007 Gehringer Brothers Late Harvest Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $17.99, QPR: 5
2007 Hester Creek Chardonnay, British Columbia, $13.99, QPR: 4
2007 Gehringer Brothers Dry Rock Vineyard Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $14.99, QPR: 4
2007 Gehringer Brothers Dry Rock Vineyard Cabernet Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $14.99, QPR: 4
2007 Hester Creek Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $16.99, QPR: 4
2006 Lang Vineyards Grand Pinot Red, Okanagan Valley, $19.90, QPR: 4
2008 Gehringer Brothers Optimum Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, $20.99, QPR: 4
2006 Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyard Series Dark Horse Estate Vineyard, Okanagan Valley, $24.99, QPR: 4
2007 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley, $13.99, QPR: 3
2008 Gehringer Brothers Private Reserve Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, $14.99, QPR: 3
2008 Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $17.99, QPR: 3
2007 Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve White Meritage, Okanagan Valley, $21.99, QPR: 3
2008 Gehringer Brothers Cabernet Franc Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $47.99 [375ml], QPR: 3
2007 Township 7 Rosé, British Columbia, $15.99, QPR: 2
2008 Hester Creek Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, $16.99, QPR: 2
2006 Mistral Cabernet Franc, British Columbia, $26.90, QPR: 2
2004 Mistral Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $29.90, QPR: 2
2007 Burrowing Owl Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $30, QPR: 2
2008 Lang Vineyards Marechal Foch, Okanagan Valley, $17.90, QPR: 1
2008 Hester Creek Trebbiano, Okanagan Valley, $18.99, QPR: 1
2007 Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley, $18.99, QPR: 1
2007 Township 7 Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley, $18.99, QPR: 1
2006 Lang Vineyards Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley, $19.90, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Gehringer Brothers Dry Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $13.99, QPR: NR
2008 Gehringer Brothers Auxerrois, Okanagan Valley, $13.99, QPR: NR
2007 Hester Creek Cabernet Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $15.99, QPR: NR
2008 Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, $16.50, QPR: NR
2008 Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley, $16.50, QPR: NR
2007 Gehringer Brothers Late Harvest Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, $16.99, QPR: NR
2007 Mistral Viognier, British Columbia, $17.90, QPR: NR
2008 Township 7 Unoaked Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $17.99, QPR: NR
2006 Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $17.99, QPR: NR
2007 Lang Vineyards Gewurztraminer, British Columbia, $18.90, QPR: NR
2008 Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, $20, QPR: NR
2006 Lang Vineyards Signature Series Pinot Blanc, Okanagan Valley, $22.90, QPR: NR
2007 Inniskillin Marsanne Roussanne Discovery Series, Okanagan Valley, $24.99, QPR: NR
2007 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $25, QPR: NR

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2007 Tinhorn Creek Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, $18.99, QPR: NR


Filed under: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canadian Wine, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Gewurztraminer, Lesser Known Varietals, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Riesling, Rose Wine, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz/Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Gluten Free Menu (Celiac friendly) | June 9th, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Canadian wine is to die for. Some of them have fulsome taste and wafting aroma. “The Continental Treat” invites all wine lovers to come over and enjoy the blend of lavish food and premium wine of the world!

Leave a Comment