About the Area

The Okanagan

The Okanagan is a long, narrow valley that spans 160 km from the US border which runs along the 49th parallel north to just above the 50th parallel. Kelowna is the valley’s largest city, an amazing place to visit, and where we are proud to call home. Beautiful weather, lakes, and beaches are part of the reason why so many tourists venture to the valley each year.

The largest of these lakes is Lake Okanagan. Stretching from just north of Vernon south to Penticton, the lake is approximately 130 km long and 232 meters deep! There are dozens of beautiful, sandy beaches and fabulous parks lining the shores of the lake. The lake is also home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout and kokanee… and let’s not forget about the Ogopogo, our very own Loch Ness Monster-like lake serpent. The Okanagan is the largest of a chain of lakes, which feeds into Skaha, Vaseaux, and Lake Osoyoos before flowing into the Columbia River and eventually spilling out into the Pacific Ocean between Washington and Oregon.

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Wine

Just over 8,000 acres under vine and around 150 wineries make us a very small growing region from a global perspective. For example, E. & J. Gallo Winery farms 16,000 acres of vineyard in California alone!

What do you like to drink? Chances are we grow it here in the Okanagan! As a relatively young wine region with grape growers and wine makers from around the world, we have a vast variety of grapes and wine styles represented in our valley. How is this possible? We have a very diverse and unique growing region, with distinct differences between north and south. The Northern section of the valley is cooler than the southern section. Aromatic white grapes and lighter-bodied red grapes thrive here. Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer and lighter reds like Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir thrive in many of the vineyards.

The South Okanagan (between Oliver and Osoyoos) grows over 60% of all grapes in British Columbia, and that percentage is still growing! The South Okanagan is a pocket desert at the Northern tip of a chain of deserts linked to the Sonoran Desert that stretches north from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. If not for the burlap coloured mountains, you wouldn’t know it was a desert at all! Lush green vineyards and orchards fill the slopes and centre of the valley floor in a vast expanse of agricultural wonder. Both red grapes and full bodied whites thrive in the hot days and cool nights in this desert area. Some of the more common of the many grapes found growing in the South are Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

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Food

Possibly the most highly coveted of the crops grown in the Valley, grapes only represent a percentage of the valley’s local produce. Each new season brings forth a bounty of new produce that makes its way to local dinner tables. With such an amazing selection of locally grown produce, it’s easy to see why so many amazing chefs make the Okanagan their home. The abundance of produce is evident in the ever-changing menus at the many fine restaurants in the here.  The best constantly change their menus to showcase the products that are in season. The Valley is chalk full of orchards, offering a bounty of seasonal delicacies.

You may want to plan your visit around the seasonality of your favorite Okanagan fruits. This way you can plan to eat it fresh while you are here, or take it home to preserve for your family to enjoy year-round. Here are the average times when our beautiful tree fruit is in season:

Apples- Mid August to late October
Apricots- Mid July to Mid August
Cherries- Early/Mid July to Early/Mid August
Peaches- Late July to early September
Pears- Mid August to Late September
Plums- Mid August to Mid September

Golf

With close to 40 golf courses, the Okanagan is a Canadian Golf mecca! From fun executive courses to absolute world-class tracks, there is a course to challenge everyone’s game. Check out www.golfkelowna.com to learn more about some of the area’s fantastic courses.

From mountains to lakes, vineyards and orchards, beaches and golf courses, the Okanagan is a special place that we are proud to call home. We would be honored to personally share with you what makes this valley so special and unique.