By Blake Allen
As the sun sets on another Okanagan summer, cap it off with an afternoon visit to the Italian countryside—no passport required.
Tucked away in the foothills of West Kelowna, surrounded by a rustic Neapolitan garden and nearly endless rows of old vines, sits Ciao Bella Winery, an authentic little corner of Italy hidden right here in the Okanagan Valley.
Even before reaching the winery, guests will have already noticed the vineyard and farm-lined road has slowly whisked them away from the stressful hustle and bustle of the city below and carried them into a rural countryside not seen from the highway.
The warm and welcoming ciao! is how the Fiumes invite their guests into their winery as well as their home and famiglia. It’s another clue that you may have left the valley and magically arrived in Napoli.
While the winery grounds are reminiscent of the quiet Italian countryside, inside the wine shop it’s a lively Italian market. Stop and take a deep breath. That’s the aroma of fresh cappuccinos (available for patrons and designated drivers alike) and traditional Italian meats and cheeses, all of which are available at the little deli in the corner of the winery’s intimate tasting room. It’s in this setting that guests receive a friendly and knowledgeable tasting of Ciao Bella’s award-winning portfolio of artisanal wines. All are crafted in an authentic Italian style, and they almost always involve a story or two.
Following this, guests can then relax in their own little corner of the gardens under the sun with a bottle of wine, a picnic and the company of friends (some of whom they may have only just met in the shop) as the sound of traditional Italian folk music plays softly in the background. Around this time of year, patrons will likely hear owner Roberto and son Antonio out in the vineyard with the workers, calling out to each other in Italian while watching the harvest.
In the distance, rising above the Pinot Nero and Pinot Grigio grapes, you’ll see the cellar. This is a recent addition to Ciao Bella. It’s been fitted with the newest ecologically sound technologies. Those who find themselves already planning their return here will want to keep a close eye on social media for news of what surprises the Fiumes have hidden away in there for the coming spring.
For now, there’s little more to do except enjoy your visit to the winery while whittling away the afternoon’s warmth with good friends and wine. After all, things do move a little slower here in Italy.
Wines of Note
2018 Pinot Grigio is done like all Ciao Bella wines, in a classic Italian style. This off-dry white greets the taste buds with a vibrant burst of crisp green apples and finishes with a more gently subdued buttery flavour of ripened pears. All of this is coupled with a prominent citrus zest that follows from the nose onto the palate.
2019 Rosé is a perennial favorite among guests. It’s great for picnics and trips to the beach. This rosé is well known for its distinctive fruitful aroma and bold array of citric flavours.
2017 Pinot Nero has a subtle flavour of cherries accompanied by the more prominent profile of dark chocolate. This vintage is a fine illustration of why Ciao Bella has been recognized as the home of BC’s best Pinot Noir in the past.
Pinozannte is an Italian-style sparkling wine that dances across the palate and finishes with a smooth, lingering hint of honey. Pop a bottle and enjoy la bella vita.