The glorious Shuswap region of our province has become a seriously amazing new frontier for food and wine lovers. We all know about their amazing houseboat scene, with boaters returning year after year to float about the shimmering Shuswap Lake surrounded by lush cedar forests and majestic mountains, but there are so many other layers of this unique locale to discover, and I am going to let you in on these secrets.
Now boasting seven wineries, the Shuswap wine scene is a wonderful new offering for oenophiles and wine geeks to lay their palates upon. Uniquely ‘North’, the wineries here focus on cool climate varietals that open up an entirely new tasting experience. Crisp, aromatic varietals like Ortega, Madeline Angevine and Siegerrebe thrive here in the higher elevation vineyards but there are also big, full-bodied reds to be found.
Relatively new is Marionette Winery located right off the highway in Salmon Arm, owned and operated by a couple from England who are both trained winemakers and viticulturists! They have discovered, after years of research and data collection, that the conditions of their unique microclimate are incredibly similar to Burgundy.
Larch Hills Winery boasts the title of being the highest elevation winery in North America as well as being the first vineyard to lay down rootstock in the region. Recline Ridge, nestled up in Tappen, just outside of Salmon Arm, offers visitors stunning vineyard views with a backdrop to dramatic Tappen Mountain where they can sip wines on the patio and relax with picnic fare. Sunnybrae Winery is a treat to behold with views offering mountains behind and lake in front. Visitors can actually boat up to this winery to pick up their bottles of famous “Redneck Red” blend among others from the cozy tasting room. Lots of history on this family farm land.
Celista Winery is another hour or so drive more but the scenery makes it worth every mile. Award winning wines are to be found here at this hidden paradise including a dessert wine and port-style fortified wine. Ovino Winery also may seem off the beaten path in Silver Creek, but how could you pass up tasting wines at a place were a flock of sheep is employed to do vineyard clean up?
Not a wine lover? Two local craft microbreweries, the Barley Station and Crannog Ales will address that need.
Local food choices abound with farmer’s markets galore. Scattered all across the region and scheduled on different days of the week, locavores can easily satiate their desire to eat local here if cooking is available at your choice of accommodation. Downtown Salmon Arm also has Chicken Direct, a shop selling fresh local chicken from Farmcrest Foods.
Cheese lovers will enjoy visiting local Grass Root Dairies who specialize in amazing Gouda. To complete your local cheese platter, pick up Happy Days Goat Cheese, Terroir Cheese and ‘D’ Dutchman Dairy, with local dairy products as well as artisan cheese.
There is a palpable connection between wine and nature here. Not just the unique terroir but how visitors can combine the two through incredible hikes and walks. Before you imbibe at Sunnybrae winery, don’t miss the ethereal walk through the cedar forest to Margaret Falls – it is the most magical escape into nature’s hands and a cool respite from summer’s heat. If you are interested in more of a hike, there is a stunning 6 km trek to Mount Baldy that will land you on the doorstep of Crannog Ales to whet your whistle with their decadent brew.
Want to leave touring options in someone else’s hands? Byron at Noble Adventures is the man to call. He offers a range of touring options that include wineries, cycling, ski adventures, hiking…and a combination of all of them! If you are the biking type, the Shuswap has a map with over 30 different cycling tours. That map, and a range of excellent guides are all available to download on their shuswaptourism.ca website.
My suggested itinerary ideally it would include overnight accommodations at one of the beautiful B&B’s like the Artist’s House Heritage B&B, or maybe at a cottage at Maples Waterfront Resort on the lake. I will also be returning for the music. Something about their air here attracts musicians and besides the annual sell-out Roots & Blues Festival in August, music lovers can attend live music concerts every day of the week in different areas around the Shuswap.
This is a camping haven as well. Beautifully manicured campsites by the lake are a destination for nature lovers all year. On my list for next visit is to stay at Quaaout Lodge in Chase. There is a spa there and I have heard amazing things about the chef at Jack Sams.
My ‘Must Eat’ List:
Shuswap Pie Company
This landmark bakery has been featured on the Food Network’s “You’ve Gotta Eat Here!” for good reason. Delicious pies both sweet and savoury are on the menu as well as a wide range of other treats and menu items. 24-year-old owner Tovah Shantz bought the business in 2014 and is passionate about her craft.
Another bakery/coffee and lunch spot in town that the locals love. The grilled Blue Canoe Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Prosciutto sandwich is it.
Owned and operated by chefs, these guys specialize in locally focused cuisine and offer a sophisticated take.
Mon Dieu! My expression when I walked into this gorgeous oh-so French eatery.
I was messaged by a friend to make time for a gi-normous ice cream cone from Tappen Co-Op in Sunnybrae. Missed it, but also on my list.
DeMilles Farm Market
A tourist and local favorite, the market store is loaded with local produce and artisan items.
~ Jennifer Schell