skip to Main Content

Wine Not? The Ultimate Guide to Wine in British Columbia


Wine Not? The Ultimate Guide to Wine in British Columbia

When you’re not out climbing mountains, skiing the backcountry or rappelling into canyons, it’s important to take time to enjoy the finer things in life. That’s why we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to wine in British Columbia, one of the world’s most sought- after wine regions. From a beautiful Kamloops Pinot noir, to the finest Cowichan Valley Riesling, raise a glass to the good life, and start planning your summer adventures! 

Wine has been present in BC since the 1860s, when French Catholic missionaries planted grape vines for sacramental wine. They quickly found that the Okanagan area was perfect for grape growing, and over the course of time it continued to evolve, with wines made from local grapes and fruits. In 1978, BC’s first ice wine was produced – by accident because of an early frost! Its popularity created a demand for ice wine in both BC and Ontario wine regions. Today, there are nine wine regions in British Columbia, each with its own unique climate and wine varieties, for you to explore as we move into summer!

The Okanagan 

BC’s most well-known wine region, the Okanagan Valley, is famous for a reason – it boasts the most vineyards in Canada, and 86% of all of BC’s wineries. Situated between the Cascade and Columbia mountain ranges, this picturesque location is considered Canada’s desert region, and the short winters and hot summers make an ideal environment for the 60+ different varieties of grapes grown here. Incidentally, the Okanagan Valley is the same latitude as Champagne in France and the Rheingau in Germany. With many beautiful lakes, the views alone are enough to inspire a visit, but you’ll want to stay for the wine. Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are particularly famous, but you can also find Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Riesling, Gamay noir and Sauvignon blanc. 

It wouldn’t be BC without a hint of adventure. Luckily the Okanagan valley is home to plenty of that too. Fancy taking a vineyard tour in a 4×4 jeep in Kelowna? Or how about a bike tour in the morning and wine in the afternoon in Lake Country? The Okanagan has it all. 


Cowichan Valley 

The so-called Napa of the North is a flourishing wine region in the Cowichan Valley of Vancouver Island. Thanks to surrounding hills, there is a dry climate which seldom freezes, making it ideal for growing the Pinot noir grape. In fact, international wine makers seek out Cowichan Valley for ideal Pinot noir growing conditions. Here you’ll find wine being produced on a smaller scale, with a focus on Pinot noir and Riesling, as well as fruit wines made with local berries such as cranberries and blueberries. 

Whether you’re looking to sample local wines and locally-sourced foods, explore by e-bike, or get into some karaoke between vineyards, the unique and wonderful are celebrated on Vancouver Island in an approachable, friendly way. 

Thompson Valley 

Becoming an official GI wine region in 2018, the Thompson Valley has made a name for itself expanding the boundaries of BC winemaking. Between the beautiful North and South Thompson Rivers, sits this beautiful and picturesque region, with Kamloops at its centre. It’s one of the most northern wine regions, and is classified as a semi-arid climate, which contributes to the signature brightness and acidity in this region’s wines. If you’re a white wine fan, sample the Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot gris and La Crescent. If red’s more your flavour, try the Pinot noir, Gamay noir, Cabernet Franc or Foch. 

Up for an adventure? In Kamloops, you can combine wine and wildlife for an epic tour you won’t forget. 

Gulf Islands

A unique community of wine-producing islands in the Georgia Strait, the Gulf Islands is the place to go when you want to get away from it all. From Salt Spring to Pender to Bowen, you can take it easy and explore a plethora of farmers’ markets, artisan galleries, and farm to table cuisine. With the advantage of a long grape growing season, the Gulf Islands are known for their exceptional Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Ortega.

While you’re in the Gulf Islands, make the most of the laid back island life and check out a kayaking tour to see marine wildlife, or try forest bathing to connect to nature.


Image: Not Your Average Wine Tour with Yervana Local, Brendan

Fraser Valley

If you’re in the city and looking for a day trip, the Fraser Valley is the place to go as it’s located around 110km from Vancouver. As it sees cooler temperatures than the Okanagan Valley, it hosts cool-climate varieties such as Siegerrebe, Chardonnay, Bacchus and Pinot noir, as well as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. 

While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to take in the sights from a new perspective with an ancient forest canopy tour, or catch your own meal to go with your wine by fishing on the Fraser River.

Similkameen Valley

West of the Okanagan Valley sits the Similkameen Valley, considered the “organic capital of Canada” with small farms and producers creating high-quality and award-winning wines. Due to steep surrounding mountains and reflectivity of the rock, heat remains in the valley after the sun sets – creating the perfect atmosphere for grape growing. With rugged mountain views and the beautiful Similkameen River nearby, this warm and arid climate lends itself to Chardonnay, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. 


Located north of the famous Okanagan Valley, the Shuswap region is one of the northernmost wine regions in North America. As such, this laid-back, welcoming and relaxed region plays host to cooler-climate varieties of wine grapes. Many varieties of wine are present, including Maréchal Foch, Ortega, Siegerrbe, Pinot noir, Gewürztraminer, Kerner, Zweigelt, Madeline Angevine, Bacchus, and Madeleine Sylvaner. 

Just an hour away lies Revelstoke, an adventure mecca in its own right and the option to add some unique experiences into your journey are endless – try mountain biking lessons, or guided fly fishing.


One of BC’s newest wine regions, Lillooet is located at the southern tip of the Cariboo Chilcotin region of the province. It rivals Osoyoos for the hottest spot in Canada – which creates an ideal climate for wine! It has hot, sunny, dry summers and cooler evenings, resulting in bright acidic notes in its wine. It’s known for Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Riesling, Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. 

This region is relatively close to Pemberton and Whistler – about an hour and a half drive – so you can turn up the adrenaline with a plethora of adventures. Think jet boating, horseback riding, and more!


The picturesque Canadian Rockies, teeming with rivers, lakes, waterfalls, hot spring and rugged snow-capped mountains are home to one of BC’s small but growing wine regions – the Kootenays. The colder climate creates a distinct taste and flavour, with valleys and lands surrounding big lakes creating small unique microclimates. The most planted grape is Pinot noir, followed by Gewürztraminer, Pinot gris and Maréchal Foch. After you’ve been out trekking in the mountains, consider the Kootenay wine region your next stop. While the Rockies are known for skiing, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in the summer. Pre-vino, head to Panorama for some whitewater rafting, or Nelson for some remote hiking from an alpine lodge

Whether you like to pair your wine with food, karaoke, hiking, or other adventures, join us to explore BC’s wine regions like a Local! 



Not Your Average Wine Tour

From $195 Per Explorer

Book now!


Complete Wine 80 Jeep Wine Tour

$215 Per Explorer

Book now!
IMG_3673 2


Mackenzie is passionate about connecting with our Yervana community of Locals and Explorers, and sharing their stories. Originally from the Canadian prairies, she spent three years living in Aotearoa New Zealand before settling in Kimberley, BC. She loves practicing and teaching yoga, perfecting her homemade pasta and sourdough, attempting to ski and surf, hiking, and travelling.
Back To Top