Now that I’m not pregnant anymore, it’s time to return to one of my favourite subjects: wine. I really like wine tasting (and wine purchasing!) in Oliver, British Columbia. Over the years, it’s changed quite a bit. The result is more wineries than ever to visit, some great restaurants, and cute little guest houses to stay in. D and I spent a great weekend here last September before we got pregnant. Looking back on it, we really couldn’t have timed it any better – it was basically a wine-filled last hoorah after a great summer and before alcohol was off limits to me. I look back on this weekend fondly. On that note, here are my tips for a great weekend away in this little gem of a region.
Where to Drink Wine:
There are a lot of places you can visit here that you will probably enjoy. This list is not exhaustive. Instead, it just sets out a few of my faves.
- Burrowing Owl – good wine and a beautiful property, this place offers a great tasting experience. Unless you get there after a tour bus arrives, in which case it can get kinda crowded. Stay for lunch at The Sonora Room, the on-site restaurant or better yet, check in to the Guest House for a few days and enjoy the pool and the view…
- Culmina – this is a new winery started by the Triggs family, one half of the Jackson-Triggs duo. When they got bought out of their old business, they started this up as a hobby project. They are passionate about wine and this is a spare-no-expense winery with a slick feeling. The tasting room is by appointment only and tastings occur at a communal table with others booked into the same time slot. It’s really pretty here. The wine is young but shows a lot of promise. We have a few bottles laying down which I have high hopes for in the future.
- Church and State – this is another pretty tasting room on a gorgeous property.
- Black Hills – so I really like it here, but find it a bit cheesy. Bryan Adams is an investor and when you show up at this place, you’ll hear his music playing out of the speakers. Despite that, however, I really like the tasting experience here. It is seated (private tables, in contrast to the communal table approach at Culmina) rather than up at a counter, which is a really nice, civilized experience. They have great tables on the patio overlooking a gorgeous pool and the “taste ambassador” or whatever the cheesy title they give the person who comes around to pour your wine and tell you about the product will take care of you while you enjoy the scenery.
- Tinhorn Creek – in full disclosure, this place is owned by a distant relative of mine who I have not met, but my parents have. I like this winery independent of any distant association to it. They have some good earthy reds, the on-site restaurant, Miradoro, is excellent, and they do this really cool series of summer concerts on site.
- Hester Creek – this place recently expanded and now has a gorgeous tasting room, a fantastic restaurant (Terrafina), and cute little villas to stay in. They also host some cool events, like cooking classes and food and wine pairings that are worth looking into.
Where to Stay:
- Hester Creek – The Villa – situated on the lovely Hester Creek winery property, these six Mediterranean-style villa suites are pretty.
- Burrowing Owl – The Guest House – on Burrowing Owl’s property, the guest house offers ten private guest rooms with private balconies overlooking the vineyard. Compete with a stunning pool, this place offers a great view.
- Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa – located in nearby Osoyoos and connected with the NK’Mip winery, this place boasts a nice pool and is a short drive to Oliver.
- Watermark Beach Resort – also located in Osoyoos, this is located right on the lake so the beach is in your backyard. Family friendly (re: lots of kids), also has a pool.
Where to Eat:
- Miradoro restaurant at Tinhorn Creek
- Terrafina at Hester Creek
- The Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl
- And, stop by Platinum Bench winery and grab a couple of their fresh loaves of bread to go. It’s so good and tastes delicious with wine. My favorites were the Gorgonzola and Fig, and the Double Cream Brie and Pear.
Other things to do:
If you’re looking for something to do other than wine tasting and eating, here are a few options:
- Go for a bike ride – there are lots of hills if that appeals to you, or for a more leisurely bike ride, you can also ride along the path by the river which runs from Oliver to Osoyoos.
- Go for a hike – there are plenty of hikes you can do in the area.
- Jump in the lake – Lake Osoyoos is great. Swimming, stand-up paddle-boarding, and going out on a boat are all fun options.
- Cool off in the pool – stay somewhere with a pool and beat the desert heat.
- Spa time – there are a number of spas in the area to choose from. I’ve enjoyed the Solterra Spa at Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos before.
- Take a cooking class – Hester Creek winery offers cooking classes regularly, check out their events schedule here for more information.
Happy wine tasting!