You Don’t Have to Be A Wine Expert to Love Osoyoos

Don’t be intimidated by B.C.’s very own wine country, where even the uninitiated vino drinker will find something to enjoy

Credit: Michael Small

Where to eat, drink, play and stay on your next trip to Osoyoos

While it was once a small town that’s most notable traits were its wonderful fruit orchards and numerous camping spots, in the last decade Osoyoos has exploded into the wine destination in Western Canada. Sadly, it was only recently that I first experienced Osoyoos, and it didn’t take long to find out what I’d been denying myself. What took so long? It always felt a little out of my league, as a destination. I don’t know enough about wine. If I’m not a wine aficionado, will there be anything for me to do? Am I lame if I drink rosé?

First and foremost, no, drinking rosé is not lame. It’s delicious. Secondly, put it out of your mind that Osoyoos will only appeal to wine snobs, because it’s simply not true. A destination full of fantastic fare, great adventure and yes, enough vineyards and tasting rooms to satiate even the most voracious oenophile, this desert land has plenty of mass appeal. Whether you’re a vinter, a camper, get ready to sniff, swirl, and soak up the sun in B.C.’s interior.

Credit: Michael Small

The Stay

If you’re going to Osoyoos in the summer, there’s no better spot to be than on the water. At the Watermark Beach Resort, you’ll enjoy a fantastic view of Osoyoos Lake (trust when I say that what its name lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in beauty). This modern hotel caters to families and young vacationers alike, offering alfresco dining on a stunning patio, an outdoor pool (waterslide included!), yoga, free movies and a bevy of other luxuries that will have you feeling relaxed in a hot desert minute.

Headed up by Chef Adair Scott (voted Best Chef in Okanagan Life magazine’s 2015 Best Restaurants Readers’ Choice), the Watermark offers up breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that feature local fare from around the Okanagan that will satisfy those looking for deliciousness and convenience in equal measure.

The Watermark offers over 150 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites as well as 30 jaw-dropping beachside townhomes that truly embody a home away from home.

Credit: Michael Small

The Food

Osoyoos doesn’t lack for dining destinations, with options ranging from soul-filling comfort food to one-of-a-kind dining experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Here are just a few to add to your itinerary.

Covert Farms

Feeling a bit peckish, but raring to go on a wine-tasting adventure? Satisfy both cravings at Covert Farms, where you’ll enjoy a charcuterie plate with local cheeses paired with a glass of Okanagan vino. If this is a family trip, the farms’ obstacle course, animals and a giant blow-up trampoline will keep the kids entertained while you imbibe.

Spirit Beach Cantina

Head to Spirit Beach Cantina for a lakeside Mexican meal. The menu features simple favourites like fish tacos and tacos al pastor, but the local ingredients make each option pop with flavour. The stand-out guacamole is incredibly fresh and flavourful and shouldn’t be missed.

Backyard Farm Chef’s Table

If you’ve watched Netflix’s documentary series Chef’s Table and have yearned for something similar, you don’t even have to leave the province. Chef Chris Van Hooydonk has created a truly memorable private dining experience with his Backyard Farm Chef’s Table. The menu, which is completely up to Van Hooydonk (allergies and preferences are certainly welcomed) features local ingredients including seasonal fare right out of Hooydonk’s massive backyard property. The sophisticated dining atmosphere is heightened by chef’s in-between-courses conversations with the dinner guests, where he explains the why and the what of his creations.

Credit: Michael Small

The Adventure

Heatstroke Cycle

If you want to sample the local wineries and relive your childhood all at the same time, head over to Heatstroke Cycle where you can hop on a motorized bike and explore the best the Okanagan has to offer on two wheels. Heatstroke will set up winery tours that feature the area’s top wineries, and a guide will lead you to your destination after every stop and sip.

Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre

This state-of-the-art cultural centre is a must-visit for vacationing families, where exhibits, galleries and interactive media expose the intriguing history of the land. For culture and history nuts, the centre is a fascinating look into the past and present of the Okanagan’s Nk’Mip people.

The Wine

With nearly an endless supply of wineries in the region, you really can’t miss. But here are four suggestions to get you started.

Church and State

This stunning winery captured the hearts (and ire) of many with its Lost Inhibitions line of wines (pictured above). The clever labels, with sassy sayings like “Be Naked When I Get Home” and “You’d Better Delete That” have been a major hit and can understandably steal the spotlight from the wines themselves. But fear not, behind the great marketing is a reliably satisfying vino.

Try: Lost Inhibitions 2014 White (Varities: Viognier, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc)

Rustico Farm and Cellars

This charming and aptly named rustic farm is truly delightful. Located on the hill of a mountainside, what Rustico lacks in size it makes up for in personality, with its heritage feel and shop that feels like a classic saloon. Owner Bruce Fuller comes straight out of your favourite western, and provides plenty of aromatic and tasty wines.

Try: Farmer’s Daughter Dry Gewurztraminer

Seven Stones Winery

Owner of Seven Stones Winery, George Hanson’s passion for wine is undeniable, something you’ll quickly learn if you spend a minute with the man. Be sure to opt for the tour of his wine caves and discover how George and his team aim to appeal to all of your senses when it comes time to taste the wine. It’s one of the more memorable experiences you’ll find in Osoyoos.

Try: 2013 Legend


Adega’s rosé is absolutely fantastic. That’s all you need to know.

Try: 2013 Rosé (listed under “Our Whites”)