Top 12 Okanagan Wines You Must Try

Kevlynn LoubierKelowna Wine Tour, Naramata / Penticton Wine Tour, Okanagan Wine Blog, Osoyoos Wine Tour

Top 12 Okanagan Wines You Must Try

Wine lovers! Welcome to our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try for 2024!  We trust that you’ve stumbled your way here because, just like us, you are on a never-ending journey to discover the very best wines that the Okanagan has to offer. That’s the beautiful thing about the world of wine — with an ever evolving landscape of new and exciting wineries popping up, mixed with the unique and unpredictable nature of each vintage, there is never a shortage of fabulous new wines to explore. 

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In fact, with such an abundance of exceptional wineries, wine regions, microclimates, and world class winemakers on the Okanagan wine scene, the options can seem overwhelming.  That’s where we come in! We’re here to point you in the right direction, and steer you ever closer to that next exquisite bottle that will only leave you wishing you’d discovered it sooner.  In no particular order, here are our picks for the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try.

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling

As its name conveys, this special riesling is derived from Tantalus Vineyard’s “Block 5” of grapes, planted back in 1978.  Resting on a north facing slope of silty soil and bordered by a mature stretch of pine forest, the grapes benefit from slow ripening and extended time on the vine.  Only after spending two years in bottle and cellar is this coveted riesling released to avid fans each spring.

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In the glass, expect a vibrant green gold colour with aromatics of beeswax, mandarin peel, lemon, granny smith, and white flowers.  On the palate, notes of key lime pie, mandarin and fresh white peach abound.  Best of all, this wine is perfect for aging yet a delight to drink just as is.  Canadian wine critic Anthony Gismondi touts it as “compelling as it gets” for Canadian riesling and we couldn’t agree more, which is why it easily earns a place on our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try.

Synchromesh Thorny Vines Dry Riesling

Syncromesh is a boutique family run winery that seeks to showcase their unique and complex vineyard blocks with an exceptional portfolio of highly differentiated riesling expressions.  With 30 acres of vines spanning from the north end of Naramata all the way down to Okanagan Falls and south to the Golden Mile in Oliver, Synchromesh has become well known and beloved for their production of world class riesling wines.   

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Undoubtedly worthy of praise is their Thorny Vines Dry Riesling.  What makes this wine so special is the very vineyard from which it comes — the north facing Thorny Vines vineyard rests just about a third of the way up the Naramata Bench.  Unlike the other Synchromesh vineyards, the vines here dive into slightly richer loamy soils.  The result in the glass is a weightier palate and distinct acidity.

Bursting with grapefruit, some tobacco leaf and apricot, this riesling is crisp and bright, making it an excellent pairing for a wide range of foods from prawns, salmon and fresh crab, to goat cheese and salty parmesan.  Although any of the Syncromesh riesling wines are sure to please, the Synchromesh Thorny Vines Dry Riesling easily makes our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try!

Blue Mountain Sparkling Brut Rosé

Over the years, Blue Mountain has become revered for its fine collection of sparkling wines.  Loyal fans of their sparkling wines may even forget that they also boast a phenomenal portfolio of still wines, including pinot gris, pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, gamay noir and pinot noir.   But alas, we are here to rave specifically about their Brut Rosé, which rightfully sits among the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try.

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Blue Mountain follows the traditional method (also referred to as the Méthode Champenoise or méthode traditionnelle) in producing their sparkling wines, and their Brut Rosé is no exception.  Labelled as a “brut” and, accordingly, falling into the dry category, this wine is a perfectly balanced blend of ~70% pinot noir and ~30% Chardonnay grapes.  It is aged sur lees for 30 whole months before being disgorged, followed by an additional 9 to 12 months of aging before being released for public consumption and enjoyment. 

The end result is a brut worthy of celebration.  Revealing a beautifully fine mousse and wild strawberry notes on the nose and palate, the Blue Mountain Brut Rosé delivers a dry, crisp, fruit finish.  Cheers to a bubbly you absolutely won’t want to miss!

Black Hills Alibi White

Next on our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try comes from Black Hills! The Black Hills Alibi White will always hold a special place for being the first-ever white wine produced at Black Hills. Tipping its hat to the Bordeaux blend, the Alibi White combines Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon to produce a vibrant and luxurious wine. 

Sauvignon Blanc offers spritely and vivacious notes of green apple and grapefruit and more subtle hints of passion fruit and pineapple.  Semillon contributes the richness of sweet pear, honey and a hint of nuttiness. Up front, expect an intense nose of gooseberry, lemon zest, and fresh-cut grass, followed by succulent hints of beeswax and baking spice.

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A vibrant palate is perfectly matched by an intriguing creaminess, thanks in part to its fermentation in French Oak and aging on fine lees for 6 months on fine lees. Marked by minerality and a long finish, the Alibi White has a refreshing quality that will leave you wanting more!

As with so many high quality wines, the Black Hills Alibi White is a pleasure to drink in infancy, but also has the ability to age gracefully.  Those patient enough to cellar this wine will see it deepen and gain complexity.  On the contrary, it is perfect to enjoy now as a refreshment on a hot summer’s day!

Mirabel Vineyards Chardonnay

Family-owned Mirabel Vineyards specializes in small lot pinot noir, rosé and chardonnay.  With unmatched quality and attention to detail, their beautifully crafted, hand-harvested Chardonnay was grown on the Naramata Bench and spent 10 months aging in French oak. 

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The Mirabel Chardonnay delights with aromas of poached pear and vanilla. Notes of grilled pineapple, key lime pie and citrus combine into a long elegant finish.  One sip and you’ll understand why this unforgettable chardonnay deserves its spot on our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try.

Terravista Fandango 

Producers of small lot specialty white wines on the Naramata Bench, Terravista Vineyards is one of the few wineries in the region to showcase Spanish varietals in their portfolio.  If you’ve been fortunate enough to try their cult-classic, “Fandango”, you’ll understand just how unique their portfolio really is.  In fact, what if we told you that Terravista Vineyards is the only winery in Canada to produce the blend that makes up Fandango?  Truly one of a kind, Fandango is composed of Albariño and Verdejo, a blend only found at Terravisita.  

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Refreshing yet complex, this beautifully balanced wine showcases tropical flavours of zesty lime, juicy pear, and bursting nectarine.  Varietals are fermented separately in stainless steel tanks where they are aged for 5 months in steel. 

Looking for a great food pairing?  Try prosciutto and nectarine flatbread with fresh basil.  A true taste of the Naramata Bench with Spanish flair to boot, the Terravisita Fandango rightfully earns its spot on the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try!

Nichol Vineyard Old Vines Syrah

Planted on granite bedrock in 1991, Nichol Vineyard humbly owns the oldest Syrah vineyard in Canada.  Producing European-style Syrah, Nichol Vineyard holds back several cases each year as a treat for their wine club members.  But not to worry — their Syrah is still available for public consumption!  

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French oak and full malolactic fermentation help round out their Syrah, from which you can expect a dark purple, ruby colour in the glass and notes of dark berry fruit, tar, lilac and fennel.  Beautifully balanced acidity and tannins make this an exceptionally age-worthy wine, and one that we expect to remain on our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try for years to come.

Intersection Silica Merlot

The wines at Intersection Estate Winery are driven by the unique terroir of Oliver’s historic Golden Mile.  With Merlot as their flagship wine, it should come as no surprise that their Merlot is being featured on this list of our top 12 Okanagan wines you must try.

In 2007, a block of Merlot was planted at Intersection Estate Winery across two distinct soil types — a fine, thin plot of dry silicate sand, and the alluvial wake of an ancient creek system. For three years, the winery produced a single Merlot from the conjoined block.  Only in 2012 was the field divided by soil type, from whence the Silica and Alluvia flagship Merlot wines were born.

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Keeping all aspects of the winemaking process the same, it is only the soil that alters the end result.  The Silica Merlot boasts dark cherry with a seductive nose of cassis, blackberry, pie filling and dark fruits.  Oak lends subtle notes of sweet vanilla pod, cocoa and baking spices.  Big, bold red lovers can enjoy now while others may wish to age for up to 7 years.

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 

Making our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try is an absolute gem from Burrowing Owl. Cabernet Franc can be a tough single varietal to get right, but look no further than Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in Oliver for your next sensational Cabernet Franc.  Complex and medium bodied, the Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc displays red plum, red currant and cherry with fragrant violet, vanilla and black licorice.

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On the palate, expect ripe tannins, crisp acidity and complex notes of graphite, dried thyme, tobacco, baking spices, and a hint of leather.  A long, savoury finish makes this the perfect Cabernet Franc to pair with braised short ribs.

Rust Wine Co Syrah

Sticking with the Oliver wine region, Rust Wine Co. makes our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try in 2024. Rust Wine Co sources their grapes from five outstanding vineyards planted as far back as 1973. Dispersed across the Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Okanagan Falls, and the Golden Mile Bench, their small lot wines showcase these distinct terroirs.  In fact, they produce a Syrah from each of the aforementioned regions, as delineated by different coloured wax encasings. 

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Although you cannot go wrong with any one of these expressions, their Rust Wine Co Okanagan Valley Syrah is sure to impress.  Aromas of spice are interwoven with dark fruit and velvety tannins.  Only one sip of the Rust Okanagan Valley Syrah and you’ll quickly recognize why it belongs on our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try! 

La Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violette

One of the few Okanagan wineries whose mission is to capture the essence of traditional French winemaking, Le Vieux Pin consistently impresses with their elegant and sophisticated wines.  Set in the middle of the Black Sage Bench, Le Vieux Pin enjoys its place in Canada’s pocket of desert land. 

Capturing the essence of traditional French winemaking while embracing the bold New World character distinct to the region, Le Vieux Pin uses non-interventionist methods and has established itself as one of the nation’s leading Syrah producers.

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One could argue that just about any of their exceptional Syrah wines would fit right into our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try, and we wouldn’t disagree.  Here, however, we spotlight their Syrah Cuvée Violette, made of 100% Syrah grapes. 

Displaying floral notes and a silky smooth palate, the Syrah Cuvée Violette focuses on the feminine and graceful qualities of the grape.  Bramble fruit and purple flowers interspersed with pepper and spice make for a delightfully ready to drink cuvée that can also be aged for up to 7 years. Truly exceptional, this wine makes our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try.

Corcelettes Cabernet Franc

Rounding out our list of the top 12 Okanagan wines you must try is the Corcelettes Cabernet Franc. Nestled in the rolling hills of the Similkameen Valley is Corcelettes Estate Winery, specializing in small lot wines with a focus on the Bordeaux varietals.  A standout is their Cabernet Franc, a varietal that grows exceptionally well in the region and certainly thrives among the vineyard’s stony soils. 

Boasting beautiful cigar box characteristics, sumptuous rustic savoury tones, stewed dark fruits, and black raspberries, their Cabernet Franc should move to the top of your list for Okanagan wines you must try.  The Corcelettes Cabernet Franc can be enjoyed now, while cellar aging will bring out floral, licorice and chocolate notes.

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With an ever evolving array of new and exciting wineries coming to the forefront, there has never been a more exciting time to explore Okanagan Valley Wines.  Looking for that next show-stopping wine?  Fear not, for this list is sure to point you in the right direction as you seek out the very best that the region has to offer.  We hope you have enjoyed our list of our top 12 Okanagan wines you must try.

To learn more about the incredible wine experiences we offer throughout the Okanagan Valley, please check out our Okanagan Wine Tours.

Top 12 Okanagan Wines You Must Try