Written for Kelowna Guide Magazine by – Dave Dmytryshyn
You may have seen a picture or an ad for a winery in a tourism publication that looks like one you wish to visit. Or tasted their wine at home or at friends so want to see where it is made. Combine your must sees with the wine routes available and plan a Self Guided Wine Tour. This will make the most efficient use of your time. Read ahead about the wineries if you have the time as there are a lot to choose from – with over 40 wineries in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna alone.
Start by picking up fold out “Kelowna Visitor Maps” from any hotel or tourism outlet. Red Dog Wine Tours is also the publisher of this Map. The big map shows the location of every winery in the greater Kelowna area.
A special section of the map called “Self Guided Wine Tour Guide” shows a smaller less detailed version of the big map and has photos and small write-ups on 10 select wineries. Some wineries have restaurants you may also want to visit. Talk to the friendly guest services staff at the hotel or tourism outlet to help you sort out the ones to visit. They may have some good suggestions, as many will have been to some of the wineries in the area.
A self guided tour allows you to come and go as you please. Call ahead to make reservations at winery patio restaurant if you plan on having lunch or dinner. No need to book wine tastings in advance but be sure to check hours of operation. See a wine route map online.
Wineries tasting fees vary, usually ranging from free to between $5 and $10 per guest. Some are as high as $15 per person. You taste 4 or 5 wines and consume a minimum of 15 ml (about a tablespoon or ½ ounce) of each wine, typically it is twice that at 1 ounce. With four samples, that is ½ to 1 glass of wine per person, per winery. Ice wines are more expensive and may not be included in the standard tasting fee. Tasting fees are typically waived, but not always, if you purchase a bottle of wine.
Some people will be legally intoxicated after doing tastings at 2 wineries. In BC there are serious consequences if you’re caught driving with a blood-alcohol content above 0.05. If you want to visit several wineries, and not worry about one of you being a designated driver, consider the option of a guided wine tour.