Bottleneck Wine Tour
The Bottleneck Drive features many small boutique wineries with distinctive personalities offering a unique, friendly experience. Boutique wineries produce less than 5000 cases of wine per year but what they lack in quantity they more than make up for in quality and individuality. Often the owners of the wineries themselves will do a wine tasting giving a more in depth and personal knowledge.
Frequently, the wineries have no tasting fees and are close together making it a good choice for bachelorette parties.
There is a chance to win a case of wine in their twice-monthly draw if you collect 5 stamps from different Bottleneck Drive member wineries. Pick up times vary depending on pick-up location and can start as early as 9am.
The owners of Lunessence winery view the vineyard as an ecosystem and thus have an interest in sustainability and balance. They wish to express terroir and be in harmony with the environment because they believe wine is a gift of nature. As a method to literally harmonize with the environment, classical music is played throughout the vineyard so vines can grow with positive emotion.
Shake it up between wineries and have a taste of Dominion apple cider. Dominion Cider Co. was created by three friends (Robin, Luke, and Mike) who came from different places (England, Saskatchewan, and Summerland) but all grew up in the countryside. Using small batches of about 5000 L per season, Dominion Cider Co. creates a dry, English-style cider with earthy aromas from heirloom apples. It's named after the Dominion Experimental farms, a project in the late 1800s that supported Canadian farmers and studied new apples. The friends aim to give heritage apples a comeback.
Sage Hills is an organic winery that consulted with a terroir expert to determine which grapes would work best with the land. Following recommendations, they planted Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Gewürztraminer. A virtual tour is available on their website so you can see the beautiful grounds that have been maintained by their careful practices and deep respect for the environment.
The Sante Fe style of the winery reflects the surroundings reminiscent of Tuscany. A picnic can be enjoyed on the patio that offers a sweeping view of the grounds. The boutique winery produces about 5000 cases a year of both oaked and unoaked handcrafted wine to appeal to those with different palates. Celebrating 15 years in the business this year, they have come up with an interesting system that does not require pumping of wine. Instead, gravity transports the juice from the crush pad to the cellar. The artwork featured on the walls of the personable winery is by the marketer Cortney Rieo. It is a great place for families since the friendly Fraser family and staff have a basket of toys to entertain kids. It is home to rare orange Muscat and the 2014 Tortured Grape which had many grapes harmed in its making.
A 3D view of the wine shop is available on their webpage.
Summerland Heritage Cider Company
The company is young, making the first commercial batch in 2011, and came from humble beginnings. It started when three orchardist friends made cider with their leftover apples. However, the first batch was an acquired taste. Now, they use heritage European cider apple varieties that are high in tannins to create ciders with a golden colour. They believe it takes simple ingredients and time to make a great cider.
Three gluten-free ciders are offered Tuesday’s Original, Porter's Dry, and Sweet Paradise. They invite you to try one and "taste a bit of history."
Previously a peach orchard, Heaven's Gate is a newer winery that opened in 2011. Tastings are done in a log cabin wine shop which features a fountain out on the sunny patio that overlooks Okanagan Lake. It's a beautiful setting for a picnic. You may have the pleasure of meeting Maggie, the friendly golden lab who was Miss October in the Winery Dogs of BC 2013 Calendar.
Th Wines does things differently. They favour the human touch over machine processing because it brings a personal connection to the work. They believe working with the hands brings grace to the vintage and a fully immersive experience. They believe the success of the winery is not only from their efforts but more fully a reflection of the community.
The owners are immensely proud of their Anglo-Saxon heritage, representing this in the name of their winery. The Graydon family created a shield with a dragon, invicta, lion, and rose each symbol having a tie to the family's history. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate.
Silkscarf Family Boutique Winery
You are sure to receive a warm welcome from this family owned, quaint winery. The wine is said to be smooth as a silk scarf. They won gold for both they 2014 Roussanne-Viognier and the 2014 Riesling-Muscat in the Northwest Wine Summit competition.
Opening at the end of April 2017, Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards will unveil their first sparkling vintage, four years in the making, along with wood-fired pizza.
SummerGate is a family run winery that specializes in white wines. Hand harvested, small batches of certified organic grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks. Using natural practices such as reduced crop yield, canopy management techniques, and no fertilizers; the small vineyard creates fresh, crisp, fruit-forward wines. Chickens roam freely about the grounds. If you happen to be looking for an onion and bacon pie recipe to complement your choice of wine their website provides one.
Their 2015 Riesling was a double-gold winner in the All Canadian Wine Championships 2016. Both the 2015 Muscat Ottonel and the 2015 Kerner won silver in the All Canadian Wine Championships 2016.
Named after the Sonoran Desert, because it lies in the only canadian desert valley, Sonoran Estate Winery has been crafting wines since 2003. The family run winery handpicks their grapes and uses small lot fermenting to create their wonderful wines. You'll especially like this boutique style winery if you enjoy the sweeter things in life as they specialize in ice wine. You may provide your own picnic or eat lunch at the wine shop or the Full Moon bistro while enjoying a beautiful wine that matches the view.
As the name would suggest, the winemaker is the 8th generation in his family to make wine. Their family pride and German heritage shine through. Steeped in history, you'll be sure to glean a lot of knowledge from this winery.
For a sneak peak, a virtual tour and family lineage are available on the website.
Okanagan Crush Pad is the Okanagan's first purpose-built custom wine-making facility. It was made with the intention to be a space where different winemakers could work together and share ideas. They produce their own flagship wines, Haywire and Narrative, as well as help make premium wines for other BC wineries. Utilizing advice from international wine consultants, they aim to develop terroir focused wines that truly express the micro-climate of the vineyard. As part of a return to old world practice, concrete tanks were installed in 2011 to more fully express the notes int he wine. The winery overlooks the Okanagan lake and is built partially underground on the Switchback Vineyard and features street art on the outside of the building.
They donate to Pacific Assistance Dogs Society and the BC Hospitality Foundation.
Evolve Cellars believes in leading with the intention to accomplish, create, and grow. Their wine is known for being fresh, friendly, and approachable just like their staff. If you want an enjoyable meal to complement your wine, a full service dining restaurant with local options is also available on the premises. The restaurant is named 'E' to embody the atmosphere of enjoying, entertaining, and eating. Enjoy hours of sunshine while sipping one of their bright and fruit-forward wines.
Forget what you know about wine! The revival of fruit wine, headed by chief winemaker Ron Taylor, begins here as classic winemaking techniques create wine from fresh BC fruit instead of wine grapes. The owner, Ted Atkinson, was also the founder of Summerland Sweets which began as a small fundraising effort for the local Rotary Club. Sleeping Giant offers 13 table wines and 8 dessert wines.
Tastings are at no charge.
Founded in 1979 by Harry McWatters, Sumac Ridge is celebrating 35 years of making wine this year. Sumac Ridge was the first operating estate winery in British Columbia. They received gold in the 2015 San Francisco Wine Competition for Sumac Ridge Private Reserve 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and gold for the Sumac Ridge Private Reserve 2012 Cabernet Merlot in the 2014 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada.
Owners Jinny and John have been making wine for 8 years. They began their journey using vines selected from Okanagan vineyards. Using handpicked grapes, they create well balanced wines that are terroir expressive. The passion for wine is clear in this family estate winery and their small case-lot artisan wine.
Dirty Laundry's origin story is an odd one. An immigrant named Sam opened up a Chinese laundry service which he expanded into a place to get alcohol and other services. The 'dirty' could be done above while the laundry was done below. Today, Dirty Laundry honours their origins by providing great wines and a rustic theme. While enjoying their patio, you can still see the steam engine from Kettle Valley Railway pass by.
They recently won Gold for their 2014 Woo Woo Vines Gewurz, 2013 Naughty Chardonnay, and 2013 Not So Knotty Chard in the All Canadian Wine Championships 2015.
More information about Bottleneck Drive is available here.