Kelowna’s Most Exclusive Wineries
Are you looking for the ultimate wine tasting experience? Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries don’t have to be out of reach. While Kelowna, British Columbia and for that matter, the entire Okanagan Valley is home to incredible, award winning wineries, there are definitely wineries that are more sought after than others. Whether it’s their rolling vineyards, decadent tasting rooms, knowledgable staff or small batch, hand crafted wines, let’s break down Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries!
Quality Matters! Handcrafted Wines vs. Mass Produced
Like everything else, quality matters. When it comes to Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries, one common thread that quickly stands out is the quality of their wines. From working in the vineyard, selecting the best grapes, hand pruning, harvesting and crushing, virtually all aspects of producing the best wines in the Okanagan Valley are done by hand. While greatly slowing the winemaking process and increasing costs due to the delicate nature of the work, if you want to produce the best wines, you’ll need to put in the work!
You’ll also notice these handcrafted wines are made in smaller batches with some wineries producing only 60 cases of each wine in certain instances. The focus here is on quality of quantity. These small lot wines will be priced accordingly, typically several times higher than mass produced wines of the same vintage.
The Kelowna Wine Tasting Experience
Once you’ve arrived at one of Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries, you’l be greeted by a tasting associate or Sommelier who will lead you through your tasting. While all wineries in the Okanagan Valley provide tastings, they are not all equal! As with the wines, exclusive wineries offer exclusive experiences, led by exclusive teams!
Expect to be led on a journey, learning about their vineyards, grape selections, winemaking process and then of course, indulging in their wines. Having a “one-on-one” wine tasting experience led by a professional will open your eyes to the nuance of each wine. From tasting notes, to in depth analysis of the wine on the nose and palate, having the opportunity to taste while also learning everything that goes into each wine greatly heightens the experience. Simply put, high level experiences such as these will connect the dots between the wine in your glass, and what you’ll experience in your mouth.
Reservations Are A Must
Typical of most venues, gaining access to high demand and exclusive wineries requires some early planning and securing reservations. High season on the Kelowna wine tasting scene is from April – October. Most wineries during this period sell out daily and well in advance. Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries are no different with some properties selling out months ahead. It’s advised that you always do your research and make plans for a tasting appointment as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Remember, these wineries are the “best of the best” and everyone is looking for a tasting experience. The wineries on this list typically accommodate only a handful of reservations daily making it essential to plan ahead!
The Tasting Room
Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries have one thing in common; incredible tasting rooms! Typical of high end experiences, the best wineries in Kelowna have spared no expense when it comes to the wine tasting environment. Surrounding yourself with an environment that’s equal to the wine, heightens the wine tasting experience. Acoustics, lighting, architecture and furnishings all impress. With a goal of wrapping their guests in a “luxury blanket”, when you’re tasting wines that typically sell for over $100 a bottle, there’s an expectation that everything else will be luxury as well. Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries won’t disappoint in this regard!
Expect To Purchase
Wineries across the Okanagan love talking about and pouring their wines. Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries are no different. Expect tasting associates and sommeliers to take a “deep dive” into their wine portfolios, as well as the time to answer any questions you may have. The end goal for the wineries is to ensure you’re leaving with some wine. After all, if they’re not selling wine, they wouldn’t exist.
Most high end wineries will have an equally high tasting fee that guests are responsible for paying. Tasting fees as high as $100 / person are typical, however these fees are usually waived with purchase….and therein lies the rub. Securing a high tasting fee, prepaid at that, will remove most of the general public from being able to visit and secure a tasting reservation. This is intentional of course as Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries need to sell wine daily to keep the doors open. Not everyone can afford to purchase cases of wine for thousands of dollars, but for those that can, the best wine tasting experiences in Canada await! It’s “pay to play” when it comes to Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries.
The Top 3: Kelowna’s Most Exclusive Wineries
Let’s take a look at our pick of Kelowna’s Most exclusive wineries! Each of the 3 wineries below offer the total package when it comes to offering the “best of the best” wine experiences, wine portfolios and overall guest experiences.
Martins Lane Winery:
Exclusive. Private. Awe Inspiring. Just some of the words that come to mind upon your first visit to the crown jewel of the Okanagan wine experience. Likely the least frequented winery in Kelowna, and also the most difficult to secure reservations at, Martins Lane Winery stands as a pillar for what is possible!
Sparing no expense, Martins Lane Winery was constructed on a slope in East Kelowna, picked for it’s high annual hours of sunshine and low rainfall, the warm days and cool nights create the perfect environment for creating some of Canada’s best wines.
The climate creates enhanced conditions for growing Pinot Noir and Riesling specifically, while the terroir was shaped from volcanic origins. Today, the vineyards at Martins Lane Winery are arid, wind blown and sparse which significantly impacts the wines. Depth and character are what their wines are all about!
Their winemaking team is led by Shane Munn, who focuses on the minute details to ensure these handmade wines live up to their calling and guest expectations. All wines are 100% gravity fed, doing away with harmful and efficient machinery, instead delicately moving the grapes through the winemaking process. It’s all about the best of the best!
Encompassing 3 distinct vineyards known as Simes, Fritzi’s and Naramata Ranch, Martins Lane Winery focuses solely on creating the most sought after Pinot Noir and Riesling in North America.
As for the tasting experience, well it’s simply second to none. Setting the bar as high as possible, the team at Martins Lane Winery welcomes you as family and includes a glass in hand tasting experience as you move throughout the winery. A thoughtful use of concrete, glass and gravity, where each room flows well to the next, furnishings are the highest end possible and a curated tour that provides just the right amount of knowledge is what you can expect. Very few wineries offer their guests “free hand” pours (full glass), or for that matter, tastings that allow you to walk the grounds as you indulge, further cementing Martins Lake Winery as a pillar of the Okanagan wine scene.
The wines are expensive, Rieslings starting at $60 / bottle and Pinot Noir’s that range from $100 – $150 / bottle, but if you’re after the absolute best wines available, you’ll find value in their portfolio and it’s easy to see why they are on our list of Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries.
As Martins Lane operates as a private winery, complete with gated entry, reservations are a must, but also may be hard to come by. Tasting appointments are un-rushed, typically lasting for 90 minutes and will lead you through the entire property and winemaking process. With such limited availability we suggest making reservations months in advance if possible. Unlike other wineries, appointment requests must be confirmed by the winery. Tasting fees are currently $100 / person, waived with a significant purchase of their wines. If you’re looking to purchase a case or more, this fee will typically be waived but it’s important to understand their fees prior to visiting to ensure no awkward moments at the end of your wine tasting experience.
For wine loves looking for the absolute best experience, Martins Lane is our top pick for Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries.
Cedar Creek Estate Winery
Set high above the shores of Okanagan Lake, Cedar Creek Estate Winery focuses on cultivating premium grapes to craft world-class wines. Their vineyards are planted with some of the region’s oldest vines, believed to have originated from first-generation European settlers to the area. Cedar Creek Estate Winery offers guests a detailed tour of their vineyards as well as member specific and exclusive wine experiences.
Their knowledgeable guides can explain the science and art behind winemaking from start to finish, from harvesting to bottling. Along the way, guests explore the vineyard’s unique climate and discover how different soils influence the wines flavours. The tasting room at Cedar Creek Estate Winery features panoramic views over the valley floor and offers an intimate, yet approachable environment in which to sample award-winning wines.
For the most discerning wine loves, the Aspect Club offers wine lovers a private tasting experience in a modern atmosphere, complete with wine tastings paired with culinary gems from their on property restaurant, Home Block. The Aspect series of wines is their flagship label and produced in limited quantities. We highly recommend their 2018 Block 2 Pinot Noir and the 2020 Block 5 Chardonnay.
From beginning to end, the experience at Cedar Creek Estate Winery is exemplary of Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries.
Mission Hill Estate Winery
Our list of Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries wouldn’t be complete without including Mission Hill Family Estate Winery. Likely the most recognizable name on our list, Mission Hill has been a staple of the Okanagan wine scene for decades.
Long on history, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery has been producing award winning wines for over 60 years. Together with consistent quality controls, a knowledgeable winemaking team and large portfolio of both white and red wines, Mission Hill has an incredible reputation.
Set within a 12 acre vineyard in West Kelowna, striking architectural designs blend well with an opulent tasting room and several private, sommelier led wine tasting experiences.
One of the most award wineries in Canadian history, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is well known internationally as well, leading the industry as the Kelowna wine region evolves into a world class destination for wine lovers.
While offering several tasting experiences starting with their Taste of the Okanagan ($35 / person), Mission Hill makes our list of Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries by offering private, seated cellar and estate room experiences. Led by an incredible ambassador team, learning about the estate while tasting in the wine caves and cellar adds an exclusive element to the experience. Each one of these elevated experiences includes a tasting of their flagship Oculus, leaving the most discerning wine lover with a great impression of their winemaking team’s talents and obsession for producing the best wines in Kelowna.
As with the other 2 wineries on our list of Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries, reservations are highly recommended. Tasting fees for their Private Cellar experience are $75 / person (not refundable with purchase) and their seated Legacy Experience is $65 / person (also non-refundable). While they are steeply priced, in a crowded field of Kelowna wineries and tours, the Mission Hill team does a fabulous job of providing value for the experiences offered.
Are you ready to explore Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries? While the types of experiences offered, tasting fees and wine price points are not for everyone, those looking for the “best of the best” will find the ultimate Kelowna wine experiences at the 3 properties listed above.
As with all travel and experiences, it’s important to do some research ahead of time, plan your day and make reservations well in advance. All 3 Kelowna wineries listed above can easily be experienced in the same day. Budget 6 hours in total, enjoy lunch at Mission Hill’s Terrace Restaurant or Home Block at Cedar Creek, and indulge in Kelowna’s most exclusive wineries and food experiences.
If you’re looking for a relaxing day in wine country and would rather let someone else do the heavy lifting when it comes to the driving and reservations, the Kelowna Platinum Wine Tour offers tastings at the Kelowna wineries listed above. Enjoy!