By Nikki Bayley – a freelance writer for titles including The Guardian, Which?, and Canada’s 100 Best. You can read Nikki’s seasonal BC Wine 101 column in BC Living, and follow her on Instagram @NikkiBayley, where she posts way too many photos of her cute puppy, Teddy.
The crisp crunch of snow underfoot and the jingle of bells in the air, holidays are a-coming and there’s nowhere more welcoming to ring in the season than a trip to BC wine country. From the Shuswap, Thompson Valley, Fraser Valley and Okanagan Valley to Vancouver Island and Similkameen Valley, there’s plenty of fun and family-friendly events to enjoy. Here’s some inspiration for you to start planning your winter wine touring trip to pick up gifts for friends and family, and of course, some wine from the cellar door for the holidays, because nothing pairs with festivity better than BC Wine!
Make a beeline for Blue Grouse Estate Winery on December 1 and 2 for a special holiday release of their fan-favourite 2016 Estate Pinot Noir, 2016 Black Muscat and brand new Fortified Black Muscat. Also, on offer holiday music, lunch, wine tastings, holiday gifts and stocking stuffers! On Saturday catch live folk from the Cowichan Valley’s hottest new duo, Jack Connolly and Genevieve Charbonneau, and on Sunday enjoy the musical talents of well-known valley pianist Rykie Avenant, Catharina de Beer, her duet partner, principle clarinetist of the Cowichan Consort Orchestra, Annick Richardson and cellist Maria Rossouw.
Explore one of BC’s most lightly visited wine regions, the Shuswap and spend the first weekend of December tasting some of their cool climate varieties such as Kerner and Zweigelt. Larch Hills Winery will be getting into the Christmas spirit with hot mulled wine, hourly guided tours from 11am to 4pm, holiday pricing in the tasting room and a raffle. It’s also a great opportunity to taste their exclusive newly released Cabernet Sauvignon.
It may be small but it packs a mighty punch growing and making some of BC’s most critically raved about wines. Six Similkameen wineries will be open from December 7 to 9 for their Light Up festivities. Accept the challenge: see if you can taste ‘em all! Expect tasting room sales, holidays gifts and plenty of entertainment along the way. Clos du Soleil Winery will be decorated for the holiday and promise ‘copious quantities of good cheer’ on the Friday and Saturday from 12pm- 5pm.
Based in Vancouver? Make it an easy day trip and head to the Fraser Valley where Mann Farms is embracing the festive season with three weekends of holiday market fun (November 24-25, Dec 1-2; 8-9). Explore more than 50 vendors, food trucks, a visit from Santa, gift wrapping station, mulled BC wine, egg nog and cooking demos.
Singletree Winery will devote a day to “Entertaining with local wine this Christmas” on December 8 from 12 to 5:30pm. Snack on appies made with wine jellies, try their white mulled wine, buy stocking stuffers and hostess gifts, pick up recipes for sparkling cocktails and learn how to make layer entrees with flavour from wine.
Festive fun starts this weekend at Okanagan Falls wineries with their Holiday Cheer Open House. Highlights include Liquidity Wines who will have complimentary wine tastings (including their Bubbly, Pinot Noir Equity, and some library releases) plus sweet and savoury nibbles from Oliver Eats Ltd and Meyer Family Vineyards have mulled wine, live local musicians, a bonfire and holiday treats including gingerbread cookies.
Embrace the season at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery for their annual Festival of Trees which kicks off in spectacular fashion on November 23 with family-friendly entertainment, mulled wine, hot chocolate and cookies, and an official tree lighting ceremony. You can visit the forest of brilliantly decorated trees until January 4 and help raise money for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation with a donation. All tasting fees during the season will be donated to the cause too.
Get under the mistletoe at Summerhill Pyramid Winery on November 24 and 25 for their handmade craft show and wine sale with a kids’ corner, door prizes, free wine tasting and 10% off in the wine shop.
You have three chances to visit Bottleneck Drive wineries in Summerland this season to Light Up the Vines: November 24, December 1 and 2. Collect five stamps to complete a special passport and you’ll be entered into a contest to win a $500 prize package! December 1, Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is having a Merry Little Fitzmas Market with local artisans including bakers, jewelry designers, soap makers and stained-glass artists. Kids can meet Santa Fitz and enjoy tractor rides in the vineyards, adults can taste wines and receive 15% off of all wine purchases. Lunessence Winery will have live music from a classical guitarist, tasty food bites and free tasting, Christmas wine pack specials and winery discounts.
Down in Oliver and Osoyoos they’re celebrating Winter in Wine Country between November 22 and 25. Moon Curser Vineyards is offering 10% off all their current releases, plus vertical library wine offers, festive music, free gift wrapping, gold pan gift baskets and tasting fees will be donated to the Osoyoos Gift Cupboard. Donations of toiletries, scarves, toques, socks, etc. also gratefully received. Black Hills Estate Winery hosts their annual Uncork the Lights event with other local wineries for an evening of fun and frolics and winter wine! Taste rosé, sparkling and seasonal favorite wines along with festive snacks from Oliver Eats. Vote for the People’s Choice wine and help one lucky winery win a year of bragging rights! Tickets available in advance are $35, and include four tasting tickets, appies and live entertainment. Extra Tasting Tickets available for $1.
In Naramata, Bench 1775 Winery has a holiday Open House on November 30 and December 1. Drop by to sip tank samples straight from the cellar, warm up with mulled wine, and shop a selection of wine and gift boxes, grapevine wreaths and table arrangements and packages of delicious festive goodies from their Baker-in-Residence Emily Serre de St. Jean.
Combine wine touring with skiing at the all-new Savour the Sun festival from December 7 to 9, a three-day event at Sun Peaks anchored around three main events: a ski in/out mid-mountain wine tasting reception; a progressive tasting with BC sparkling wines; and an elegant evening pairing twelve of Oliver-Osoyoos’s most prestigious wines.
For province-wide BC wine holiday events visit WineBC.com/events.