Let’s face it, the people of Kelowna have it good! Just take a stroll through the city and you’ll find yourself with an entire vacation’s worth of renowned restaurants, world-class shopping and sunny beaches. But without question, the Okanagan’s brightest gem is its wine. And fortunately, you don’t need to venture into the countryside, along the valley’s winding backroads, to find one of the Okanagan’s top tier wineries. Because in addition to the usual city amenities, Kelowna also boasts British Columbia’s first urban winery, rooted right here in its beautiful downtown core!
If you think you need a rural setting to have the proper winery experience, think again! The spacious and modern tasting room at Sandhill Wines is conveniently situated along Kelowna’s Grapes to Grains Trail, a tour of the city’s breweries, distilleries, cidery and winery. Sandhill Winery now offers guests three memorable and highly distinctive tasting experiences. There’s the standard tasting experience at the main tasting bar, where patrons sample through a diverse and guided flight of wines. Nestled beside Sandhill is the old Calona Wines tasting room, complete with its cavernous cellar atmosphere and some of the winery’s old bottles, looking more like museum pieces, resting upon the walls. This is British Columbia’s oldest winery, having first opened its doors in 1932.
For those of you who still yearn for the vineyard, Sandhill Winery also has a Virtual Vineyard Tour Experience. It’s a 45-minute photographic tour of the winery’s five unique vineyards from which it sources its grapes, complete with interactive touchscreens and an array of beautiful images and videos. This is coupled with samplings of Small Lot wines produced from these very vineyards. The Small Lot wines, some of which are less than 10 barrels in total volume, are all produced from grapes specially grown in these vineyards. And among these varietals are the Okanagan’s oldest Sangiovese along with the only Barbera in the Okanagan. This makes both this tasting as well as these wines quite literally a unique experience.
Hidden around the corner of the main tasting bar is a peaceful, open-spaced lounge where patrons can enjoy the Seated Tasting Experience. Relax in the brightly coloured chairs and couches. Sit back with friends to laugh and chat while tasting guides slowly make the rounds, allowing groups to finish samples at their own pace. You can even order a cheese platter to enjoy with the tasting! And if at the end of this experience you are feeling quite at home, why not enjoy a glass of your favourite wine to complete your day in downtown Kelowna at one of the valley’s finest wineries?
~ Blake Allen