Dear British Columbia, you and I have this thing going on. I’m not sure where it’s headed or if our love affair will ever end. But, I can tell you that the time we’ve spent together so far has been magical. I have this hunch that, deep down inside, you feel the same way about me and that you love when I come to visit you. You always seem to put on a full show with your majestic mountains, oceans, lakes, vast wilderness, hippy vibes, great wine and food.
No, but seriously, if you’ve never been to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. My love for B.C. is pretty obvious, but one of my favourite things about this west coast province is the fact that it’s so diverse in its landscape. Quite a bit different from the mountainous regions of the Rockies, the 180hm-long Okanagan Valley is located in the interior and is actually the tip of a desert that stretches up from the top of Mexico and through the United States.
This climate makes it the perfect growing conditions for orchards of peaches and apricots – but more importantly, scores of excellent wineries that are spread across the many sunny terraced hills. And just a short 15 minute drive away, located right on the Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, is the stunning Delta Hotels Grand Okanagan Resort – where you can access all of this and more!
When I pulled up to the property, the first thing I noticed was that it is truly set up like a resort. It’s right on the lake, with views for days. And I’m not sure if this was just because I was blessed with incredible weather, but there is so much natural sunlight that pours right into the hotel – it’s almost magical when you walk in. It’s a perfect destination for vacations, business trips and social events, with views of the lake, the mountains, and the Kelowna city skyline.
Located as a corner unit, my room was decorated consistently with the Delta brand, but also equipped with a whirlpool tub and a balcony facing the lake. Can we just talk about the balcony for a hot minute? I didn’t spend too much time in my room, but when I did, it was mostly spent standing on the balcony marvelling in the beauty that is Kelowna. I am completely in love.
I honestly can’t say that I checked out any of the many amenities available at the hotel, like the pool, spa or fitness zone. But, I’m 100% positive that they are amazing, as per usual with the Delta Resorts. I was too busy eating, drinking and exploring the incredible area. But I did get a chance to pop into OAK + CRU Social Kitchen & Wine Bar, which is the hotel’s regionally-inspired restaurant.
All of their delicious ingredients are obtained locally and are of the highest quality. Pictured below, is the baked Little Qualicum Brie dish with roasted garlic and crushed hazelnuts, served alongside local warm flavoured honey and tree fruit chutney, with fresh baked sourdough bread. Because, cheese.
It’s so easy to get around Kelowna to explore the local wineries. Tourism Kelowna hooked me up with a private Okanagan Wine Country Tours trip to visit 3 of them within the area. Brian, my amazing driver (who put up with me solo day drinking for 4 hours), picked me up in an unmarked private SUV, in style. The reason they don’t use vans with big logos is that they really do cater to the private and discreet experience. This keeps the experience more high end and, frankly, a lot classier. It’s also why they are able to offer tailored wine trips, private collector tours and unique culinary experiences, without it feeling like you’re just hopping on another tour.
Our first stop was to Mission Hill Winery. Now, I’ve been there before years ago and it was impressive then – but not like this. Our private Sommelier Carlos, met us at the front of the stunning property and promptly handed me a glass of rosé. I’m wondering if maybe everyone could just greet me like this from now on, no matter where I go. We proceeded to explore the property while I asked a million questions (as per usual) and he answered them all with passion and knowledge.
I had quite the unique experience while we were in the wine cellar, which also houses the private wine collection and is actually dug right into the caves below with the exposed damp rock walls, adding a unique serene ambiance. Carlos actually let me taste some wine right out of the barrel while it was still aging. For me, this was truly integral to telling the whole story of where this wine comes from and how the flavour profiles are developed within each bottle.
The property itself is quite stunning, from the architecture, to the views, to the little details around every corner. There’s a real focus on family and the coming together of people for the enjoyment of wine and genuinely good times. But, I still think that the best part of Mission Hill is the wine. Carlos walked me through a one-on-one private tasting, tailored to my preferences and I ended up leaving with a few bottles in hand and a giant smile on my face.
Our next stop was to Quail’s Gate, where we made it just in time for lunch! After a quick tasting of some of their delicious wines, we sat down to lunch at Old Vines for a special 3-course meal – which is exclusive to guest of the Okanagan Wine Country Tours. Paired alongside a fantastic glass of wine, I had an incredible meal of chilled cauliflower soup, Farm Crest Chicken Supreme with herb gnocchi and a dessert so complex that I can’t even find the words to describe, which was titled Iced Berry Parfait. I was well-fed, wine-filled and just plain happy.
After a quick 3rd stop to Mt. Boucherie Winery, where I picked up one of the best Merlots I’ve ever tasted, I headed back to the Delta Grand Okanagan to take a long soak in the whirlpool tub and then straight to bed to sleep off all of the wine and food. Because, clearly I have the hardest job in the world.
Until next time, Kelowna, until next time.