Soft. Vibrant. Jammy. Alluring.  These are some of the words you might use to describe the wines you taste when you visit some of the wineries in the Okanagan Valley.  September 28th marks the beginning of The Fall Okanagan Wine Festival this year.  Kelowna and its surrounding areas are home to some of the best wineries in Canada.

Mission Hill Family Estate tops our list and is located a short 20 minute drive away in West Kelowna.  When you arrive, you might think you’re back in the old country. This winery exudes European charm.   Owner, Anthony Von Mandl, created an extraordinary property utilizing numerous architects, designers and craftsman. The architecture of the buildings blends perfectly with the surrounding area, creating an environment that is both inspiring and welcoming. Enjoy stunning 360 degree views from this winery.   Don’t forget lunch at Terrace Restaurant, voted ‘one of the Top 5 winery restaurants in the world’ by Travel + Leisure magazine.

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, also located in West Kelowna, can be described as both breathtaking and quaint.  You can taste some of the finest wines produced in the Okanagan Valley here. The white wines are beautifully perfumed with the scent of the fruits of the area. You may even want to splurge on a bottle of the highly acclaimed 2010 Optima, a desert wine made in the classic Sauternes style.  Old Vines Restaurant is a nice choice for a romantic lunch or dinner. Or simply take a seat on the patio to enjoy a spectacular view of the lake. You might even witness a wedding while you’re there, as this is a popular spot to get married.

Our budget choice is Arrowleaf Cellars, located in Lake Country, a 30 minute drive from Kelowna. This winery is known for being both exceptionally friendly and very pretty.  At Arrowleaf, you will find underpriced, exceptionally valued wines that rival the big wineries.  What their intimate tasting room lacks in glamour, it makes up for in charm. If you plan a stop here, be sure to bring your own picnic lunch. This is the spot to bring the entire family. Enjoy the charming picnic area with its spectacular view of the lake and enjoy one of the wines you can purchase from the tasting room with your lunch.

Whether you visit Kelowna during The Fall Okanagan Wine Festival or at any time of the year, be sure to save some room in your luggage. You’ll want to bring back some of the wines you experience.  That’s what memories are made of, after all!