A Guide to Winter in B.C.’s Wine Country

There’s more to do in the Interior this winter than escape to the mountains

There’s more to do in the Interior this winter than escape to the mountains

The Okanagan Valley’s seemingly infinite supply of award-winning wineries, reputed golf courses and just plain stunning lakes brings summer tourists in hoards. But what keeps the locals around in the off-season? It turns out that Kelowna, the Valley’s unofficial capital, has a few winter tricks up its down jacket sleeve.

Click through to see what there is to do in the Okanagan during the cold season.

Skating at Stuart Park

Those who plan winter trips to the Valley are typically in it for the snow with Big White, Silver Star and Apex providing a convenient local pilgrimage to the region’s famed champagne powder. But there are plenty of other seasonal sports to discover in town.

Six years ago, the City of Kelowna invested in a waterfront revival project that, among other things, transformed a parking lot into an outdoor arena. The City has since added onsite rentals and a cozy firepit to complete the rink’s quintessentially Canadian charm.

Open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Rentals available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (except Christmas)

1414 Water Street

Winter walks

Considered a top summer attraction, the iconic Kettle Valley Railway is worth a visit during the winter months as well. The Myra Canyon stretch of the Trans Canada Trail, a 600-kilometre railway spanning from Midway to Hope, was rebuilt after the devastating 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, adding updated trestles to the unique outdoor experience.

If road conditions are questionable, try Knox Mountain instead. The trusty year-round alternative includes a variety of climb lengths that boast some of the valley’s most stunning panoramic views.

KVR: Myra Station Entrance access at the end of the Myra Forest Service Road
Knox Mountain: 450 Knox Mountain Road

WHL Hockey

The Kelowna Rockets satisfy the city’s hockey quota with a packed home game schedule played at Prospera Place. Seasons tickets to support the local WHL team (2004 Memorial Cup Champs) start at just $631, making some stick and puck entertainment an affordable outing in the heart of the city.

Single game tickets start at $17
Prospera Place, 1223 Water Street

(Pictured: Kelowna Rockets Nick Merkley (left) and Lucas Johansen celebrate a goal.)

Big on brunch

Thanks to long-time favourite Bohemian Café & Catering Co. (known as “The Boh” to locals), brunch has always been big in Kelowna. Several of the city’s trendiest new restaurants have good brunch menus that offer a welcome escape from the cold.

Curl up at The Curious with a latte and some rich S’more waffles; head to Salted Brick early before their popular eggs Benny run out; or stop by Krafty Kitchen on Sundays for Hip-Hop Brunch, where the weekly menu is inspired by ’80s and ’90s hip-hop lyrics (for instance: “Drake + Eggs”).

The Curious Café Artistry & Alchemy, 1423 Ellis Street, Daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Salted Brick, 243 Bernard Avenue, Saturday and Sundays starting at 10 a.m.
Krafty Kitchen, 271 Lawrence Avenue, Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Credit: Pandosy Street B.A.

Global influence

Flanked by local boutiques, a yoga studio, cute cafés and new residential offerings, the once unassuming Pandosy Street in Kelowna has become a hub of accessible international cuisine that will temporarily transport you to warmer destinations this winter.

Momo Sushi, a strong contender in the best local sushi debate, added a second location on Pandosy Street in 2014, although delicious Pad Thai from no-frills neighbour Zabb Thai Restaurant just might lure you away. Mainstays Chutney Cuisine of India and Hector’s Casa round out the global influence in the charming pedestrian-friendly area.

Momo Sushi Mission, 3013 Pandosy Street
Zabb Thai Restaurant Kelowna Mission, 3009 Pandosy Street
Chutney Cuisine of India, 3011 Pandosy Street
Hector’s Casa, 2911 Pandosy Street

Low-key live music

Long considered a community of grey-hairs, UBC-Okanagan has refreshed Kelowna’s big-little-city vibe inspiring a number of new nightlife options.

BNA Brewing Co. is the latest place to be. Unlike hot spots of the past, the trendy bar isn’t overrun by a barely-legal crowd, and their winter Fireside Sessions, spotlighting up-and-coming acts, are encouraging the locals out of hibernation. Fernando’s Pub continues to pair their ever-popular $7 menu with regular live gigs, making it a reliable stop at any point in your next night out.

BNA Brewing Co., 1250 Ellis Street
Fernando’s Pub, 279 Bernard Street

Winter wine tasting

A trip to the Okanagan isn’t complete without a little wine, and winter is no exception.

Many wineries are open for business year-round, but to really indulge in the comforts of the season, check out Poutine & Pinot on February 20 at the Hotel Eldorado. The Okanagan Wine Festivals event pairs seven eccentric versions of Canada’s infamous cuisine (think braised beef and smoked salmon) with B.C.’s best varietals for the ultimate winter experience in the Okanagan Valley.

$60, 6:30 p.m., Hotel Eldorado, 500 Cook Road