The Wines of the Okanogan Country

Since this is the same latitude as France, it should come as no surprise that the Canadian and American Okanogans (the Canadians spell it Okanagan) have a climate that permits growth of the same grapes used for the wines made famous in Southern France. The wineries of the American Okanogan are just getting started, so there are some fabulous bargains available near the Estate.

Your winery tour begins right on Highway 97, less than 10 miles from the Estate. As you lazily meander past lush orchards and farms—with the majestic Okanogan Mountains as breathtaking background—you come to Oroville, the next town north of Tonasket. Right on picturesque Main Street you can visit the tasting rooms of Lake Crest Winery (509-476-2259), Okanogan Estate & Vineyards (509-476-3646; www.okanoganwine.com), and its recent acquisition, Gold Digger Cellars (509-476-2736; www.columbiacascadewines.com/gold_digger_cellars.html). These young and vibrant new wines are rich with possibility, and you might want to add them to your collection.

About 5 miles further north, shortly after you cross the Canadian border, you enter a natural paradise of over 90 lush vineyards that are within about an hour’s drive (www.okanaganwines.ca). Oliver, just a few miles north of the border town of Osoyoos, is known as the Wine Capital of Canada. Some of its many established wineries are listed at www.okanaganwines.ca/wineries and www.trishwise.com/wineries-oliver-osoyoos.html With a climate and soil ideal for growing grapes, Oliver and its nearby communities produce many award-winning wines. There are actually over 175 wineries in British Columbia that you can visit, comprising over 7,500 acres.

The southern Okanagan region is truly a wine lover’s paradise! Most wineries have tasting rooms, and organized wine tours that visit many of these are also available. Our favorite winery is Domaine Combret Estate (250-498-6966; www.combretwine.com), which is located on the “Golden Mile” of wineries in Oliver. It has the best ice wines we’ve ever tasted. Proprietors Mr. and Mrs. Olivier Combret, who moved to Canada from a vineyard in the French countryside, are warm , hospitable, and infinitely knowledgeable about wine.

Eating and drinking at the wineries of Osoyoos and Oliver can be wonderfully fun! The Canadian Wine Country provides endless choices of wineries and wonderful, small bistros to eat your cares away. Our favorite is Burrowing Owl Estate Winery (250-498-0620 or 877-498-0620; www.bovwine.ca), which features the Sonora Room Restaurant. We like to dine outside on the elegant porch while enjoying the splendid view below: 125 acres of pastoral vineyards. The talented culinary team is led by Chef Bernard Casavant, one of British Columbia's most esteemed chefs, and the high-quality cuisine is melt in your mouth delicious.


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