Charming Autumn Drive and Wine Tasting in Kelowna
There is something magical about Autumn.. the wondrous feeling it brings whenever you pass by a colorful tree-lined street. That fresh and cool weather, aroma of pumpkin spice and cinnamon rolls floating in the air. These are just some of the things I look forward to every year when Autumn comes. I believe that it is more a season of the soul than of nature, bursting with beauty, warmth and bliss. That is why it’s no surprise that most of us are in love with it.
But this Covid-19 pandemic affected our way of living and sources of income which consequently derailed all of our plans, including vacations. It’s either paused until a vaccine is invented or eventually cancelled due to unavoidable setbacks. Our family here in Vancouver had to cancel our airline tickets and hotel bookings due to this pandemic. And I had to cancel my airline tickets and reschedule my plans of going home to the Philippines until it’s safer.
But we cannot stop everything just like that and surrender to Covid-19 without a fight, right? We cannot live in fear and continue hiding, but also not live in danger.. so we planned and studied our options. I looked up on places to go on a road trip and things to do in the open air like hiking a trail, open dining areas and scheduled wine tasting so we can practice social distancing and follow safety protocols. After all the research and discussions, we decided to go on a lovely drive to the Okanagan Valley for a lovely weekend getaway at Kelowna.
The Okanagan is a region in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It’s known for its wineries and fruit orchards. Kelowna is the perfect road trip from Vancouver for a quick rest and relaxation. It’s only about 4 hours drive if you go and take the more scenic route in Coquihalla Highway. It is fondly referred to as the “scenic highway”, because it runs parallel to Highway 1 on the north side of the Fraser River, which provides a lovely change of scenery from the slightly quicker Highway 1 corridor out of Vancouver.
We left Vancouver early to be able to drive leisurely and pass by other wonderful sights and stop for a coffee or snack along the way. After five hours, we reached the wonderful city of Kelowna.
From Vancouver BC to Kelowna
Take Highway 1 East to Hope. Follow either Highway 5 or Highway 3 to Kelowna. Via Highway 5, the Coquihalla Highway connects to Highway 97C – the Okanagan Connector – and then on to Highway 97 North to Kelowna. (395 km 237 miles)
Look at the beautiful view of the Okanagan Lake by sunset.
After checking in at the hotel and an hour’s rest, we drove to check out Kelowna‘s downtown area. It’s unique feature is the waterfront City Park and is located in a lakeside cultural district. The area around the cities of Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops is home to several ski resorts.
Then we drove to Quail’s Gate for our scheduled wine tasting experience.
This is the stunning view at Quail’s Gate, they offer premium wines, great culinary offerings at Old Vines Restaurant, wonderful staff, and breathtaking panoramic views of the Okanagan Valley, creating a memorable experience.
Fun Fact: There are over forty wineries within a twenty minute drive in Kelowna.
We researched on the best wineries, checked on comments and recommendations and then decided to go for Quail’s Gate. And aren’t we glad we did. I booked online for a wine tasting the day before we left Vancouver to be sure that we can be accommodated, considering our short stay and the Covid-19 protocol being observed everywhere.
When we got there, we were greeted by the lovely receptionist and asked to wait for our wine expert/ server. Our server escorted us to the balcony with our own tall table following a social distancing protocol from the other tables, looking out to the charming view of the Okanagan Lake. Then she handed us a list of their award-winning selection of wines from the Estate Selection or the Reserve and Collector Series. We both chose four different wines to be able to compare and find our favorite among the total of eight that we’ve chosen. This is such a treat considering paying for on $15 CAD per person for four tastings each. As we ended our wine tasting experience, we decided to walk along the grape- lined path leading up to the lovely picnic grounds just a few steps away from the Okanagan Lake. Take note that you can eat all the grapes that you can while you roam around the grounds!
At dinner time, we decided to try our luck at Old Vines Restaurant. They were busy that night but the receptionist was very kind and said that if we’re willing to wait, she’ll try her best to make room for us. And so after only about 15 minutes of pictorial and grape picking, we received a call from the receptionist informing us that our table is ready. Yeheyy!
These accommodating people, the unique wine tasting experience and our wonderful dinner of steak and salmon perfectly ended our first night in Kelowna.
Fun Fact: Research suggests that drinking an occasional glass of red wine is good for you. It provides antioxidants, may promote longevity, and can help protect against heart disease and harmful inflammation, among other benefits. Interestingly, red wine likely has higher levels of antioxidants than white wine.
So before we headed back home to Vancouver, we passed by Sandhill to hoard and share with our family some of our favorite reds and whites.
See other places you can enjoy despite Covid-19 season with your loved ones. Check out my posts about Happy Places.
Stay safe everyone!