Winter in Okanagan Wine Country

When cooler temperatures descend on the Okanagan Valley, many small wineries close to the public. Winemaking continues through the winter, but the demand for winery visits drops like mercury in a thermometer. Or does it?

Several years ago, wineries on the South Okanagan’s Golden Mile bench opened for one weekend in early December – without fuss, without fanfare. Locals shopped for unique gifts and stocked up for holiday entertaining. It was a way for the community to support agri-tourism based businesses, and for those businesses to offer a ‘thank you’ to the local folks.

This year, six wine regions in the Okanagan and Similkameen organized winter celebrations; wineries opened for a weekend of special events, vine lighting parties and dozens of unique offers. Some wineries are open every weekend in December. It seems we haven’t finished with wine touring for the year just yet.

The Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association invited EAT on a tour of a few wineries participating in “Winter in Wine Country”. Of 23 member wineries (more joining as this goes to publication), 20 were open to welcome visitors during their otherwise closed-for-the-season time of year.

Festive lights, mulled wine, hot soup, sleigh rides, bonfires – a winter wonderland. I visited those same wineries only a few months ago, but somehow this visit felt different. Everything, everywhere, felt like holiday fun at home – complete with plenty of wine.


Winter in Wine Country itinerary

Covert Farms Family Estate 

The Covert family has been farming since 1961. Many of the crops they began with are ones they continue to grow today: tomatoes, onions, corn, potatoes – and yes, grapes. It’s part country market, part winery, and the farm is now almost all organic. The original Dunham & Froese Winery (started in 2005) is now Covert Farms Family Estate Winery. Same vines, different label – and some very promising grapes from this seasoned agricultural family.

suggest: “Odie” sparkling wine, bright and fresh like the first snow of the season


Stoneboat Vineyards 

Owned and operated by the Martinuk family, Stoneboat produced their first vintage in 2005. Far from new to agriculture, Lanny Martinuk has grown grapes in the south Okanagan since 1979, supplying fruit for many BC wineries. Lanny’s twin sons Tim and Jay work operations and winemaking respectively, while his wife Julie does analysis and stops by the wine shop to pour for visitors. When Lanny and Julie’s pilot-in-training son Chris comes home to visit, he’s also put to work – like piloting the tractor.

suggest: 2010 Verglas, a sweetly elegant example of what icewine should be


Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 

A partnership between Barb & Bob Shaunessy and Kenn & Sandra Oldfield, Tinhorn Creek is proof that friendships can make beautiful wine and grow a successful business at the same time. With a focus on sustainable practices in the boardroom and in the vineyards, Tinhorn has positioned itself as a business to watch for – in the wine world, and beyond.

suggest: Oldfield Series Pinot Noir, a stellar example of what BC can do with this grape


Written By:

Jeannette is EAT's Okanagan writer.\r\n\r\nWith her rural Canadian roots and love of grand experiences, Jeannette is equal \r\n\r\nmeasures country and city. Since moving from Vancouver to the Okanagan in 2007, \r\n\r\nshe quit ...

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