That’s right, British Columbia (BC) is home to some incredible, award-winning wines. The Okanagan Valley has been referred to as Napa North and for good reason. There are currently 451 licensed wineries, including over 330 licensed grape wineries and over 150 fruit wineries.
The Okanagan Valley has 13 towns and cities. One such town is the quaint and charming Summerland, renowned for being the friendliest town in the Okanagan. Located 1,000 miles north of Napa Valley, it may not have a single stoplight, but it’s producing some of the best wines in the province.
The route that connects the Summerland wineries, cideries and distilleries is called Bottleneck Drive. Let’s dive into the top 10 must-visit wineries in Summerland.
1. Haywire Winery
This newly renovated winery boasts a sleek and contemporary tasting room. Chickens roam Switchback Vineyards to control pests in lieu of pesticides at this organic farm where they mainly use concrete vessels for fermentation. This allows their cool‑climate wines to fully express their natural flavors and characteristics.
2. Dirty Laundry Vineyard
If stunning views enjoyed with wine and pizza are your idea of a good time, then a visit to Dirty Laundry is a must! This is the only winery listed that has an on-site restaurant. As such, this means they are also the only winery along Bottleneck Drive that doesn’t allow dogs. Their award-winning wines and breathtaking scenery are definitely worth making this your lunchtime stop.
3. Sage Hills Estate Winery & Vineyard
At this family-owned winery, you have a good chance of enjoying your wine tasting with the husband and wife duo who are both on-site daily visiting with guests. Their philosophy is “Nothing added, nothing removed.” They are proud to offer proper stemware, air conditioning and stunning views of the vineyards and Okanagan Lake.
4. OAK Estate Winery
With 14 acres of lush vineyards and sweeping views of Okanagan Lake, OAK Estate Winery is the ideal location to celebrate a special occasion. Traveling for your birthday or anniversary? Indulge in one of their VIP tastings or glamour picnics for an unforgettable experience.
5. Solvero Winery
Solvero gets its name from the Latin for “truth in soil.” At 600 meters in elevation, this estate vineyard is one of the highest in British Columbia. The team takes great pride in both protecting and promoting the biodiversity of their land, which includes fruit trees, a vegetable garden and resident free-range chickens and ducks.
6. Garnet Valley Ranch
Upon arrival at this off-the-beaten-path winery, the first thing you’ll notice is its vast landscape. The rolling hills and desert wilderness surround you while a sense of calm overcomes you. Guests are invited to tour the property and experience firsthand the environmentally responsible farming practices that help to create exceptional wines with a true sense of place.
7. SummerGate Winery
This family-run, organic vineyard prides itself on producing aromatic and fresh wine. SummerGate currently offers white wines, rosé and two sparkling wines that are crisp, vibrant and full of character. The winery’s first red wine, an organic pinot noir, was released this fall.
8. Lunessence Winery & Vineyard
Overlooking Okanagan Lake, this winery showcases stunning views alongside its organic wines. The patio at Lunessence is the ideal place to enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by one of their charcuterie boards. Or you are welcome to bring your own picnic to enjoy a personalized wine and cheese pairing of your choosing.
9. Heaven’s Gate Estate Winery
This family-owned and operated winery specializes in crafting small-batch wines. They encourage visitors to bring a picnic to enjoy on the patio to accompany their wine tasting. Both dog and kid-friendly, everyone is welcome at Heaven’s Gate.
10. Lightning Rock Winery
Perched halfway up a thermal volcanic ridge, this winery gets its name from a large granite rock that was believed to have been split in half by lightning. The name aptly suits this winery’s electric, juicy wines created with organic and biodynamic farming practices. Lightning Rock wines can be found at top restaurants across Canada.
If you enjoy fruit wine, be sure to stop at Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery along your tour of Bottleneck Drive. The only fruit winery on this route, they also offer a collection of jams, syrups, dried fruits and candies as well as a barbecue food truck, The Smokeshack.
And there you have it. If you’re looking for a little adventure, followed by luxury, then BC’s wine country is calling your name. If an afternoon of horseback riding, skiing or stand-up paddleboarding followed by wine tastings sounds like the perfect vacation, it’s time to start planning your trip to Summerland, BC.
For an extra special treat, plan your visit during the annual Grand Sommelier Express, which takes place in the month of June. This authentic locomotive experience aboard a steam train takes you along the scenic Kettle Valley Steam Railway. During your 75-minute train ride, you’ll enjoy onboard wine tastings accompanied by unparalleled views of Summerland.