The stunning view of Quails' Gate's vineyard and Okanagan Lake in West Kelowna.
It was my first time visiting Kelowna, but as I looked out over Quails’ Gate’s sun-drenched vineyards along Okanagan Lake, I knew I had to live here.
My wife Shannon (then girlfriend) had never been to Kelowna. She had been interested in visiting for years because of what a friendly bus driver in Invermere, BC had told her: “The Okanagan is the California of Canada… Only without the earthquakes.”
So, in June of 2008, we packed up our car, said goodbye to our friends and family in Toronto, and started on our new adventure in Kelowna.
We had a place to stay set up. That was it. We barely knew anyone. We didn’t have jobs.
At that point, we didn’t know much about BC wine.
We didn’t know that we would be so enthralled with BC wine country that, in 2012, we would start Experience Wine Tours to share our knowledge and appreciation of BC wine with Okanagan locals and visitors.
We didn’t know that, right now, we would be starting the Experience Wine Tours Blog so we can share even more of our experiences with you as your Okanagan wine guide.
The purpose of the Experience Wine Tours Blog is to share my experiences as a wine tour guide, sommelier, food nerd, and passionate ambassador of everything Okanagan.
In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about BC wine. You’ll learn all about BC wineries, BC wine country, and wine touring in BC. We’ll even tell you about our favourite Okanagan restaurants and locally sourced foods to enjoy with your BC wine.
Of course, there’s more to the Okanagan than wine: sometimes we’ll talk about craft beer, cocktails, outdoor activities here in the valley, and our favourite local businesses that we feel are worth checking out.
I’m writing this blog because, with more than 200 BC wineries and more opening ALL THE TIME, there’s a lot to know about our young, emerging wine region. The more you learn, the more you’ll appreciate BC wine. The more wine you drink, the happier you’ll be. I hope that reading this blog will make you very happy!
248, to be exact. Although that number is likely to increase by the time you read this! It seems a new winery opens every few weeks, making it difficult to keep track of them all!
Like I said, there’s a lot to know.
When I first moved to Kelowna, I was intrigued by the number of BC wineries that I’d never even heard of. But I was instantly hooked. I read every book I could get my hands on. I couldn’t learn enough about wine (I still can’t!). Living in BC wine country, my passion for wine and food flourished.
Shannon and I worked at wineries, wine shops, and hotels. I sought out the best restaurants that would have me work for them. When I met the owner of a wine tour company, I jumped at the opportunity to work as a wine tour guide. I figured it was a fantastic way to learn more about the wines and wineries in the Okanagan, and to get paid to do it. Perfect!
Then, I enrolled in professional sommelier courses and completed my International Sommelier Guild Diploma. After working for several years as a tour guide and in restaurants here in the valley, Shannon and I felt that we needed a better outlet to share our passion for BC wine.
Experience Wine Tours was born.
With Experience Wine Tours, I get to bring people to the wineries to experience the spectacular natural beauty of the areas where the grapes are grown and to meet the amazing people responsible for transforming those grapes into the delicious BC wine in your glass.
It makes me happy to introduce people to a wine they thought they didn’t know they would enjoy. I find it particularly pleasurable converting ABC wine drinkers (Anything But Chardonnay) into Chardonnay lovers.
I love introducing people to the wines of the Okanagan Valley. We make great wine here and as the vines get older and we continue to attract amazing winemakers, it’s only going to get better!
When I watch people’s expressions when they see how insanely beautiful it is here, it takes me back to my first trip here, when I decided the Okanagan would one day be my home.
But you don’t have to be on a wine tour or even in wine country to appreciate BC wine. Wine can be enjoyed anywhere, whether you’re relaxing at home, dining with friends, or picnicking at the beach.
I love wine. Wine makes me happy. It can be so many things to so many people.
It can be subtle or bold, simple or complex, thought-provoking or simply thirst-quenching.
It can be white, red, pink, orange, or even blue (thanks for that one, Spain)!
It can be dry or sweet, still, or sparkling.
It can be a great beverage to share with friends… Although, admittedly, I also enjoy an occasional glass or two alone.
I love wine because wine loves food. Close your eyes and think back to the best meal you’ve had in your life. Like, ever. Chances are, you were drinking wine. Or you should have been (unless it was something super spicy, in which case beer is certainly more than an acceptable substitution).
Wine has an amazing ability to accelerate how quickly people get to know one another. I see proof of this every day I’m on tour!
There is a wine for every occasion. From monumental moments like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and big promotions… Or other milestones, like quitting your job, a bad breakup, or maybe just finishing that crossword puzzle.
You can uncork a bottle when you’re happy or sad. You could celebrate Wednesday… Any occasion whatsoever.
You need a special occasion to open a coveted bottle from the cellar? You can make ANY evening a special occasion simply by opening a special wine. These are some of the many reasons I enjoy wine… Did I mention I love wine?
Lucky for us, the best way to learn about wine is to experience it. But with so much to learn, it helps to have a guide, whether you’re on a Okanagan wine tour or you’re enjoying a glass at home.
I’m excited to be your guide to Okanagan wine by sharing my adventures through this blog. I hope that my experience can help you learn about BC wine, so you can appreciate all that Okanagan wine country has to offer - and, yes, drink more wine!
Check back for more blog posts every second Thursday or follow us for updates!