Kelowna’s pioneer wineries may have taken longer than those in other parts of the valley to focus on their neighbourhoods instead of the whole valley, but the locals have now joined forces with Tourism Kelowna to promote themselves in ‘Wine Trails.’
Visitors are encouraged to tour each neighbourhood as a group, visiting the different wineries and moving on to another neighbourhood or trail the next day.
Tourism Kelowna’s Catherine Frechette explains the objective is not only to bring visitors to the wineries, but also to encourage visitors to spend more time here in the city, so it’s a natural fit.
In other parts of the valley, the Naramata Bench has been marketing the region as a group for years.
The Similkameen, the Golden Mile in the south, Bottleneck Drive in Summerland and Corkscrew Drive in the Okanagan Falls area are all established regions where wineries have grouped for marketing purposes for some time.
To that list, you can now add Kelowna’s Roots, in the downtown Kelowna area where B.C.’s original winery, Calona and its neighbour, the B.C. Wine Museum, are located; and Lake Country’s Scenic Sip, with Ancient Hill Winery, Arrowleaf Cellars, Ex Nihilo Vineyards and Gray Monk Estate Winery.
Then there’s the Lakeshore Wine Route with Tantalus Vineyards, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery, CedarCreek Estate Winery.
And the East Kelowna Wine Trail with The View Winery, Spierhead Winery, The Vibrant Vine, Camelot Vineyards and the House of Rose.
Finally, there’s the Westside Wine Trail with Mt. Boucherie, Volcanic Hills, Little Straw, Quails’ Gate, Mission Hill and Kalala.
Although it’s an initiative that began with Tourism Kelowna, the wineries enthusiastically jumped on board and 20 out of 24 area wineries are included in the new colourful brochure promoting the wine trail, said Frechette.
It will be available at the wineries, the airport, visitor centres, the B.C. Wine Museum, and likely hotels and restaurants as well.
Frechette is particularly excited about hints in the brochure about the story behind each winery, which will help visitors know what questions to ask when they arrive, to get the interesting stories each one has.
“It helps visitors make those personal connections,” she commented.
She admitted it’s somewhat ironic that the valley’s burgeoning wine industry began in Kelowna where the first grapes were grown and the first commercial winery opened, yet it’s one of the last areas of the valley to focus on its own region.
Part of the reason is likely that the pioneer wineries here have tended to market the whole valley as a destination for wine industry tourism.
Now that the industry has become so much larger, it’s beginning to be divided up for promotional purposes, into smaller regions.
The brochures are now available and contain all the basic information about each winery as well as a bit of background on each and full-colour photos.
The 17th annual Spring Okanagan Wine Festival wraps up this weekend with hundreds of events throughout the valley, including tastings at wineries, so this brochure’s completion is appropriately-timed.