Vacations are rarely as relaxing as they’re meant to be. All the stress of rushing up and down the valley, down dead-end roads and along busy highways looking for the winery that your friends told you about. What was its name? Why not just escape all that hustle and bustle and enjoy the summer visiting an authentic slice of Italy right here in the Okanagan.

High along the West Kelowna Farm Loop, nestled at the end of a scenic country road, sits Ciao Bella Winery — and it is truly a little piece of Napoli. The winery is the long-held dream of the Fiume family, and their passion for wine shows in every little detail.

A welcoming Ciao! greets guests as soon as they enter the door, where they are enthusiastically invited into the famiglia. Outside the tasting room, you’ll likely hear the faint chatter of Italian as the family works the vineyard. You’d be forgiven if you forget, even for a moment, that you’re not actually in a villa in Naples, but rather, in a special little corner of the Okanagan.

Be sure to try the gold-medal-winning Dolce Vino, a uniquely Italian take on icewine. After some sampling in the wine shop, grab a glass of wine and relax in your own little corner of the vineyard-lined garden. You can bring your own lunch with you, or grab some Spuntini (charcuterie the Italian way!), a diverse selection of authentic Italian meats and cheeses as well as espresso for the drivers. Then all you have to do is sit back and relax as the traditional music of Italy plays in the background and you remember what it means to just live la bella vita.

2017 Pinot Grigio: This classic off-dry white pairs perfectly with any picnic, and features a complex body with distinctly discernible notes of green apples and apricots complemented by a calming citric nose.

2016 Rosé: Ideal for both picnics by the garden or lounging on the beach, few wines so elegantly encapsulate life in the Okanagan like this humble rosé. This year’s vintage is defined by a fruitful nose that’s freshly out of the garden, and a prominent body of strawberries and rhubarb with a subtle hint of watermelon lingering on the back of the palate.

2016 Pinot Nero: Only recently awakened from its 13-month oaked slumber, this medium bodied red, made in traditional Italian style, is an ideal summer red. A rich aroma of Okanagan dark cherries follows from the nose onto the palate where it’s paired with smooth notes of dark chocolate. Ciao Bella was recognized in 2016 as the home of BC’s best Pinot Noir, and this vintage illustrates why.

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