Take good walking shoes when you go wine touring.
That is not just because it is tiring to stand around in tasting rooms (chairs are against regulations!) without good shoes. There is excellent hiking in wine country.
My favourites include the Mission Creek Trail in Kelowna. It starts at Lakeshore Road, just east of the Eldorado Hotel and the Manteo Resort, two of the best hotels in Kelowna. It is a cool, shaded walk, 7½ kilometres one way, beside a creek; and there are plans to extend it about another eight km.
The trail is a refreshing break while visiting the nearby wineries. Sperling Vineyards and Tantalus Vineyards are a short walk from the trail. You will want a bike (allowed on the trail) or a car to visit CedarCreek, St. Hubertus, Camelot, Spierhead or The View Winery. The hike works up an appetite for lunch or dinner at Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s excellent restaurant.
In Penticton, the Kettle Valley hiking trail begins near the art gallery and then swings north past a number of Naramata Bench wineries. D’Angelo Vineyards operates a bed and breakfast whose selling feature is that five or six wineries are in walking distance. The luxurious Serenata Guesthouse Retreat, located amid a vineyard, is another excellent B&B beside the hiking trail.
The Kettle Valley Trail, on an old rail line, is part of a strenuous cycling trail, especially notable for its breathtaking route over the railroad trestles near Kelowna (restored since the 2003 forest fire). Those who are not long-distance cyclists will be more than satisfied with the brisk walk along the Naramata Bench. The trail passes the Red Rooster and Ruby Blues wineries and then climbs uphill behind three wineries – Hillside, Laughing Stock and Black Widow. The views over vineyards, wineries and the lake are a photographer’s delight.
A hike I have added to my list recently (I just heard about it) is the climb to the top of McIntyre Bluff. This is the dramatic cliff north of Oliver that looms over Highway 97. In the history of the First Nations in the valley, the cliff was the locale for many battles. To get there, drive up to the Dunham & Froese winery, which is part of Covert Farms, a mile-square vineyard and farm behind the bluff. They will tell you how to access the hike to the top of the bluff, to take in the stunning views over the valley. You will certainly want to slake your thirst at the winery when you come back down.
Another fine hike with great views is the 6½ km Golden Mile Trail. The best access point is Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. The winery usually has trail maps or at least directions. The trail climbs the mountainside from the top of the winery’s vineyard. The significant elevation gain requires a few rest stops – but you will want to stop anyway to take pictures. On the mountainside, you should see the ruins of the Tin Horn Creek mine’s stamp mill. The trail winds through grazing land in one direction and orchards in the other.
The easiest guided hike (there is a modest fee) is at the Nk’Mip Desert Interpretation Centre at Osoyoos, 1½ km one way, with stops to learn about First Nations culture and history. Combine this with a visit to Nk’Mip Cellars and to the Passo Tempo Restaurant, and you have a day to remember.
John Schreiner is one of Canada’s best-known wine writers with 15 books published since 1984.
Contact John at email@example.com