KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – BC’s Kelowna in the Okanagan region knows two things: Great golf and great wine. In fact, the wineries in this region of British Columbia outnumber the golf courses by a ratio of 5:1. This isn’t to say that Canadians here don’t love their beer, with many drinking along the course to ease the pain of their latest bogey – But near the scenic BC city of Kelowna, located four hours east of Vancouver BC, the wine continues to reign supreme. So feel free to consider the Okanagan region for a unique golf vacation with a golf and wineglass tour.
There are only 5,000 acres of grapes in the Okanagan region. It sounds like a lot but compared to 30,000 acres in Washington, and more than 400,000 acres in California, it’s just a “boutique” wine region. But while it’s small in size its reputation is big and continues to become more respected.
The high desert locale here in British Columbia allows for warmer temperatures than California’s Napa Valley in summer, with an hour more sunlight during the day. BC’s Okanagan Lake helps to keep the climate temperate and the fortuitous atmospheric conditions have propelled the area into a position of prominence in the winemaking world. More than 60 wineries have sprouted, some small and others commercial wineries with 1,000 acres or more.
Ice wine is a specialty of the area. Harvesting this sweet dessert-type wine isn’t necessarily an annual occurrence, though. Sometimes the weather won’t cooperate, so the success rate in producing an annual crop of ice wine runs at about 80 percent. The grape crop might be capricious but by contrast, the golf element in the Okanagan is a steady and occasionally spectacular presence.
Like the Okanagan region wine industry, the BC area’s golf options continue to gain prominence, not just throughout Canada but increasingly from western locales in the United States.
Courses like Harvest Golf Club, Okanagan Golf Club and Gallagher’s Canyon offer a unique blend of challenges, scenic views and the type of golf thrills that only a mountain environment can provide to you on your golf vacation or golf package.
“Wine will never approach the popularity of beer as an on-course beverage,” admits Ted Stone, who plays 20 or 25 rounds a season here in the Okanagan area. “But there is the chance for wine to gain popularity among players. Educated golfers are more inclined to learn more about fine wine than the average consumer so the wineries have that advantage.”
Stone has few tips for those who might want to combine the greens and the reds (wine) in the same afternoon.
“Mission Hills is close by Harvest Golf Club, and the Okanagan Golf Club, which are two of the premiere properties in the region,” he said. “Meanwhile other fine wineries in the area are Cedar Creek, Summerhill, Grey Monk and Pinot Reach.
“They are all within a 30-minute drive, including near Predator’s Ridge and Gallagher’s Canyon.”
In the Okanagan region in particular, it’s easy enjoy both the courses and wine. Both are of a high caliber and well worth exploring in tandem.
Eating in the Okanagan Region
Dozens of worthwhile restaurant options exist in Kelowna, BC or nearby. A sampling includes Wild Apple Grill at the Manteo Resort for gourmet continental cuisine, Christopher’s Steak and Seafood, The Teahouse for its orchard setting, Yamas Taverna for Greek specialties or The Vintage Room for seafood.
Enjoy BC’s Kelowna
Amongst the best full-service choices are Manteo Resort in town, with lake views, swimming pool, health club and a variety of different accommodations. Thirty minutes away in the town of Vernon is rustic Predator’s Ridge, with a lodge, stand-alone condominiums and brand-new Rituals Spa.
Be sure to book ahead to most fully enjoy your golf vacation to BC, Canada’s Kelowna. The golf courses are excellent but tee times fill up fast. And be sure to bring some aspirin in the event you drink too much wine. No one wants to miss a around of golf due to a Kelowna, Canada-style hangover.
Golf Canada’s West is the official golf course, tee time and golf packaging company of Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. Call them at 877-323-3633. For additional information be sure to check out GolfTheRockies.net. For more BC and Alberta vacation and tourism information, please visit Banff National Park.com and Banff Travel.com.