Heading To The Desert In Osoyoos
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Shortly after we arrived, smoke poured over the hills. The first forest fire of the season hit very early.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Masala Bistro on the property was supposed to be a great restaurant if you liked Indian food.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As we approached the property, we saw evidence of the Indian heritage. The winery was decorated with Osoyoos Indian art and artifacts.
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.
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.
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”!!
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.
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.
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.
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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