South To Osoyoos For A Desert Wine Tasting Experience

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Heading To The Desert In Osoyoos

After our stay in Kelowna, we headed south to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience. It was a quiet few days on our road trip in BC. With a great view out over Osoyoos Lake.

For day trips, we headed back up the valley and around Osoyoos to continue our wine tasting in the Okanagan Valley.

Heading South From Kelowna

We enjoyed our stay in Kelowna. And our day trips for wine tasting in the Okanagan Valley. But we knew there were many other wine regions to try.

As we planned our trip south to Osoyoos, we picked a few more wineries to visit along the way. We had some great wine. And saw some interesting winery sights.

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When we drove south through Peachland, we were drawn in by the name of the town. And the sign for the Bliss Cafe. Located right on the lake, it was a busy spot on a Sunday morning. When we saw the awesome bakery selection, we knew why.

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Our route down Highway 97 took us through Penticton. Since we took so much time wine tasting, we decided to drive straight through. And visit later for a day trip.

We passed Oliver, billed as the “Wine Capital of Canada”. We sometimes had trouble finding the wineries when we toured the Lake Region. But in this part of the Okanagan Valley the wineries were well signed. And we saw one after the other on this route.

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We knew that our visit to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience would offer us lots of options.

Finding The Desert In Osoyoos

When we did our road trip of California, we spent a few days in Palm Desert. We expected it to be a desert. But we hit heavy rains on our stay. And we found the desert to be greener than we expected.

When we headed south to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience, we drove through lush green fields. The fruit trees were in bloom. And the vineyards had just started to green up. There were two large lakes that belied the image of a desert. Only when we looked up into the hills did we see the drier brown colours we expected for a desert.

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Shortly after we arrived, smoke poured over the hills. The first forest fire of the season hit very early.

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We stayed in the desert area of Osoyoos. But most of the time it did not feel like a desert. But when we heard that the temperatures hit over 40℃ (104), we figured it might feel very desert-like if we came back in the summer.

Hanging Out By Osoyoos Lake

We booked our stay at the Holiday Inn Osoyoos. It was located on the small strip of land over Lake Osoyoos. Our suite on the upper floor provided us with lots of room. And a great lake view.

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We were interested to learn that Osoyoos was considered a snowbird escape location. In the winter months, the hotels catered to people who escaped colder areas in Canada. As we wandered around town, we saw lots of tourist areas. But when we visited before the start of the season in early May, the town had a bit of an abandoned air. Many restaurants were not yet open. It reminded us of when we visited the resort areas in Italy that closed early for the fall.

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We used our base in Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience. We found all of the wineries open. And the crowds were small enough that we really enjoyed the wineries. We never found a fruit stand open with local produce. And all of the cideries we passed were still closed.

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We were tempted to stop in and visit the Tumbleweed Distillery to see what other spirits were offered in this part of BC. But we simply ran out of time to try it all.

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Starting Our Wine Tasting At Hester Creek Winery

One day we headed out for an afternoon of wine tasting. Our first stop was at the Hester Creek Winery. As we drove up the road, we were amused to find a sign that said “Slow Marmot Crossing”. And then we saw the bushes at the side of the road move and a number of marmots darted out.

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The Hester Creek Winery was a large property. Like so many of the wineries in the Okanagan Valley, there was a large restaurant on the property. And a patio area at the tasting room. We looked at the selection of wines when we entered the tasting room. There were several private tasting rooms that were used for special events or for wine club gatherings.

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Hester Creek Winery Tasting - Okanagan Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience.jpg

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Hester Creek Winery had a large selection of wines. And everything was open for tasting.

Wine Tasting At The Hester Creek Winery

We tasted through much of the tasting menu for free. And only paid when we tasted the two premium wines (The Judge and Garland).

I started again with rosé. But this Cabernet Franc rosé still was not the rosé I looked for. We moved on to the Character White which was an interesting blend of Pinot Gris and Gewerztraminer. And we had to try the Trebbiano that was unique to this winery.

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Hester Creek Winery Tasting - Okanagan Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience.jpg

From there we moved on to the Character Red. This blend of Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot sounded intriguing. But it had a bite that neither of us liked. So we moved up to The Judge premium red wine. And what a difference that made. This rich red wine was definitely coming home with us.

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Hester Creek Winery Tasting - Okanagan Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience.jpg

Hester Creek Winery Tasting - Okanagan Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience.jpg

Of course David had to try the sweet wines. The late harvest Pinot Blanc was sweet but not syrupy. But not one we would add to the collection of ice wines we amassed on our ice wine tour of Niagara.

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It was a quiet day at Hester Creek Winery. It meant we took our time and wandered the winery. And tasted our way around the wine menu. A good first stop when we went south to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience.

Stopping At the Kismet Estate Winery

The next winery on our list was Kismet Estate Winery. We were the only ones in this small tasting room when we arrived. We were originally going to just browse on this stop. But then we saw that they had Cabernet Franc ice wines. I had come to love this when we did ice wine tasting in Niagara.

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There were two rosés on the wine card. We started with the drier Infinity rosé and indeed found it too dry. But then we tried the Lotus rosé with the unique orange muscat. It gave the rosé a strange flavour that I did not like.

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We then tried the Moksha wine. Moksha is an Indian word meaning “liberation of the soul” and we hoped that this red wine would really shine. But this mix of Syrah, Malbec, Grenache and Mouvedre with a small amount of Viognier did not quite match the other red wines we already purchased in the Okanagan Valley.

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Our wine tasting finished with the Cabernet Franc ice wine. It had the strawberry jam smell I loved. And the fruity taste I liked in ice wine. But was not going home with us.

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The Masala Bistro on the property was supposed to be a great restaurant if you liked Indian food.

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It was great to visit the Kismet Estate Winery when we went south to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience.

A Winery With A View At Painted Rock Winery

One day we headed out for a day trip up to Penticton. We got off of Highway 97 at Okanagan Falls and went up the east side of Skaha Lake. High above us we saw the ragged mountain faces. When we saw the sign for the Skaha Bluffs, we took the small road up.

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The sign for the Painted Rock Estate Winery drew us in. We drove up and looked for views out over the lake. This beautiful property was often used for private parties and weddings. We certainly saw why!

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We wandered around the outdoor area. And then headed inside. It was too early in the day for wine tasting for us. But we looked at the wine offering.

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A Short Visit To Penticton

When we finished at the Painted Rock Estate Winery we continued on to Penticton. We enjoyed lunch at the Hooded Mergander with a view out over Lake Okanagan.

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After lunch we wandered on the Kiwanis Pier. And then strolled along the lake. Lounge chairs were set out to enjoy the view. We took pics of the Ancestors statue from a few angles. High on the hill we saw the town sign.

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We had one more treat on our day trip. When we travelled south to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience, we passed the Tickleberry’s ice cream shop. This time we stopped at this fun shop. The outside was fun and colourful. The inside was crowded with souvenirs.

A wide selection of ice creams kept us in indecision for a while. But it was worth the wait for the massive ice cream servings. If ice cream was not your choice, the fudge selection was equally enticing.

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Our day trip to Penticton was a great break on our visit to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience.

Exploring Spirit Ridge And The NK Mip Winery

We had the NK Mip Winery on our winery list when we went south to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience. It was the first indigenous-owned winery in North America. It was only after we arrived in Osoyoos that we realized that the winery was located on the Spirit Ridge Resort property. This was a high end resort and condo property, part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection.

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Spirit Ridge NKMip Winery Tasting.jpg

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Spirit Ridge NKMip Winery Tasting - Okanagan Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience.jpg

Spirit Ridge NKMip Winery Tasting - Okanagan Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience.jpg

As we approached the property, we saw evidence of the Indian heritage. The winery was decorated with Osoyoos Indian art and artifacts.

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A Private Wine Tasting At NK Mip Winery

We booked our tasting in advance to guarantee a private tasting. We were set up in a quiet corner. Troy took us through the 5 wines on the wine tasting menu. And of course we added in an ice wine to round out our tasting. There was a line of different wine glasses set up on the tasting bar, each one designed for a specific wine.

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We started with a Chardonnay aged in French oak. While we were warned that this had a heavy oaking, it tasted far less oaky than I expected. We moved on to the red wine line up – Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot and then Cabernet Sauvignon.

Troy helped us to assess the look, smell and taste of each varietal. The Cabernet Sauvignon won me over with its smooth and balanced taste. It would pair well with a big meat dinner. But I would enjoy this wine for sipping too.

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Spirit Ridge NKMip Winery Tasting - Okanagan Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience.jpg

The ice wine was a Riesling. David found the ice wine a bit more syrupy than he liked. But that did not stop him from finishing his glass.  Maybe we should have called this blog “dessert wine tasting” rather than “desert wine tasting”!!

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As we wrapped up our tasting, the wine master Justin walked over. We enjoyed the chance to talk to him about his passion for his wines. It was a great way to finish up our visit to Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience.

Heading Back Through The Mountains Towards Vancouver

There were several routes back to Vancouver. Even though the weather was grey and overcast, we chose to drive Highway 3 though the mountains. This then connected to the main Trans Canada Highway around Hope.

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Before we left we checked to make sure the wildfire was under control and the road was open. As we drove we saw places where the ground still smouldered. The fire risk level was already high so early in the season. Fire fighters were still around and made sure that the fire was kept under control.

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We often passed logging trucks. The road was a roller coast ride as it went through the mountains. It reminded us of our fun trips as we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway in California.

All along the route we found small towns. The valleys had fruit orchards. And many local places put out large colourful billboards. We wanted more time to explore. But it was a long drive to reach our stay in Surrey outside of Vancouver that night.

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A Good Stop For An Osoyoos Desert Wine Tasting Experience

We headed south from our stay in Kelowna to the furthest south point in the Okanagan Valley. While the area around Osoyoos was deemed to be a desert, we found the southern valley green and verdant. We found many places to head for day trips around Osoyoos.

As we travelled around Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience we found so many great wineries. And we really just scratched the surface. If we spent many weeks in this area, we were sure we would not see all the wineries.

After doing wine tasting in the northern part of the Okanagan Valley, it was interesting to see the wines of this warmer region. On our next stop in Surrey, we tried a whole new group of wineries.

Did you visit Osoyoos for a desert wine tasting experience? Did you like the wines of this hotter region?

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36 Comments

  1. Wow a Desert Wine sounds interesting. I loved wine tasting experience and would love to go on them a lot. I think one can learn so much about wine and the way it is made on these experiences. I have never been to Osoyoos before and I would love to there someday.

  2. I am not a big wine person, but I do occasionally enjoy wine tastings especially with beautiful vineyards and these Wineries sound just like my kind of place! 😀 NK Mip Winery and Painted Rock Winery look so so pretty! I imagined British Columbia to be like Seattle but was surprised to learn about this dry region. Pretty interesting article!

    • Vaisakhi, We too were glad we visited the Osoyoos area. It was not as dry as we expected but we were there early in the season. We loved the variety we found in the scenery and the wineries. Linda

  3. I loved wine tasting in California, and I still love Californian wine. I need to plan a trip to visit friends in the states and Vancouver, so this is really helpful. Plus I have a sweet tooth, so a lot of wines that taste like desserts sound perfect to me.

  4. Looks like you were able to cover a lot of ground on this trip! I love your pictures and detailed descriptions. And I have to say, I would stop for one of those Reese’s tarts at Bliss Cafe any day! Sounds like it’s appropriately named. 🙂

    • Martha, We did love our exploration along the Okanagan Valley. We loved all the great stops when we went out for day trips. I must say I would love to go back to the Bliss Cafe on our next visit too. Linda

  5. Desert wines sound interesting. I can only imagine sitting there at my wine tasting and seeing those brush fires in the distance. I love that you found a winery on indegenous-owned land. I would have loved to support their business too. We aren’t too fond of the ice wines, but some of those other varieties looked mighty tasty.

  6. I’ve never heard of ice wine, but sign me up for anything that tastes like strawberry jam! I love that the last winery paid homage to the indigenous Osoyoos, that really makes it stand out. The aesthetics are so gorgeous and unique!

  7. The Okanagan Valley is definitely on my bucket list. I actually lived in Eastern Canada for a few years but sadly did not get to visit too much of West Canada. I think I might go just to try whatever that peanut butter cup thing is at the Bliss Cafe! It’s a bummer you didn’t really like the Rose’s at Kismet. I’m definitely a Rose girl. But it sounds like you had an amazing trip! I can’t wait to get there!

    • Lynne, I hope you get to visit the Okanagan Valley. It was our first time. But won’t be the last. I keep trying rosés and occasionally find one I love enough to buy. Hope you get to visit. Linda

  8. Wine tasting tours are always so much fun! Almost all of them have great views of the vineyards and beautiful landscape, tours with the history and process of wine-making and definitely a nice eating place where you can have some good snacks. That bakery selection picture looks totally yummy! I have been to other wine tasting tours but not to Osoyoos. I will catch up on this when I am in BC. 🙂

  9. Osoyoos is one of the more picturesque places that I have been. It really welcomes you to BC when headed north from Washington. I did not visit the wineries and appreciate the details about each- especially the honest wine reviews!

    • Molly, I hope you get to visit some of the wineries when you next head north into the Okanagan Valley. There were some fun ones. Even if you don’t do a wine tasting. Linda

  10. Looks like you guys had quite a lot of fun getting tipsy and enjoying the vibes. While I am not a sucker for Wine, but I love such intimate wine tasting sessions at the wineries. I think its the vibes that too most of the trick. Okanagan Valley is definitely there on my radar, as wish to experience not only the wineries, but also the beautiful nature.

    • Arnav, We were certainly glad we visited the south part of the Okanagan Valley and got to see the area around Osoyoos. We had heard about if for years but finally made it there. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda

  11. I learn so much about wine and wine tasting from reading your post. You explained it to detail as if I was there tasting it. I’m not a wine drinker, but I think I will like The Judge.from Hester Creek. And definitely we will stop and grab some cookies from Bliss Cafe. They look beautiful and delicious!

  12. A little crazy to see that forest fire and the cloud of smoke. Had you not mentioned that I would never have realized. The place looks amazing in general. All those treats, especially the desert wine sound perfect. I am sure that I would be drunk on those notes. 😉

    • Ami, We were happy we headed into the drier south end of the Okanagan Valley. It was very different than the north. And we certainly tasted that in the wines. Although I would not want to visit in the very hot summers. Linda

  13. well all I can start with is, its a wine drinkers paradise and if I ever planned to visit the area I would surely be taking a lot of samples back home. The forest fire is that for real? A bit scary though but seems all was well and you guys had a great time sampling the wine and having a great time. Wouldnt mind giving the ice wine a shot. thanks for sharing a great article and lovely visuals that add life to the post.

    • Amar, I hope you get to visit this part of British Columbia one day. Maybe in the spring before the risk of forest fires is higher! We did love the variety we found around Osoyoos. Linda

  14. Such a beautiful way to spend the weekend. The lake Osoyoos looks pretty cool and I’d love to stay by it. Also driving around, exploring the wineries, tasting different kinds of wine, sounds like such a lovely experience. I miss travelling because of all these amazing experiences that I do not have access to in my home city (Dubai). It’s a desert but without vineyards and wineries 😉 Painted Rock Winery has beautiful views, I love it!

  15. I would love to get on a day trip of wine tasting have had I been there. It’s an amazing experience that you have detailed. Especially, I loved the Osoyoos Lake. The private wine tasting at NK Mip Winery seems something that will go to my list right away.

  16. This is my type of adventure/ trip. It is nice to know that there’s quite a number of wineries in Osyoos. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience. Will find time to visit this wonderful place and hang out by the lake.

  17. Your wine tasting experience reminds me of my Georgia trip. The birthplace of wine, Georgia is the place for a variety of wine tasting sessions. You would love it there. The Moksha wine sounds so good. Maybe because of the Indian word. It’s always so much fun visiting a vineyard n tasting wine. You had visited quite a few wineries. More than anything, I absolutely loved the Okanagan Valley. It looks so beautiful.

  18. I had no idea there were wineries in Canada, I thought the weather would be too mild. I love wine tasting, and enjoyed doing it in Napa. I would love to visit Osoyoos some day!

    • Nish, There are wineries in both British Columbia and in Ontario in Canada. We have a shorter season but still time to produce lots of great wines. And our cold winters gives us the awesome sweet ice wine. Linda

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