*** NOTE – This list hasn’t been updated in a long time and I’m in no position right now to be able to aggregate any of this information anymore, although I won’t rule it out for the future. For now though, I’ve removed it. Some of the wineries on the list don’t exist anymore and others have expanded or reduced hours since this was last updated. When I first published this article in 2009, wineries were far less communicative via their websites (which wineries only really updated yearly, if that) and social media was not commonplace. Now that information is far more easy to access via social media, websites (which are far more easy to update now), and Google searches (which are not always accurate when it comes to business hours). You can always check out The Big List of Wineries in BC which I try to keep updated and will be tackling this again shortly.
Until then, if you are going to tour wineries in the winter, Google it, check social media, or contact them by email (in advance) or phone them (if planning on visiting within 3 days. Happy touring!
The Okanagan Valley can be beautiful in the winter months and it really offers views that are very different from when most people see it in the summer. Yes, there is sometimes snow on the valley floor and yes, it can get cold here. But, it is still Canada after all and that’s the price of admission here. Being ready for the cold will make travelling that much more enjoyable.
While most of the smaller wineries are closed for the season, there are some wineries that offer tastings year-round. There might even be some action in the vineyards or on the crush pads if you happen to be there during Icewine harvest.
Your best bet for finding out which wineries are open is to start at the winery’s website for current hours of operation and seasonal times. Some of them are still open but might have reduced hours or have visits by appointment only. Don’t be afraid of wineries that are only open by appointment (maybe they should use another term, like ‘tasting date’ or ‘scheduled tasting’ – Dentists need appointments). They are more than willing to accommodate any times that you are going to be visiting.
Restaurants at the winery may or may not be open year-round as well so don’t assume that they will have all of their services running. Some restaurants, like Terrafina at Hester Creek and others, close their doors from January to March while others have reduced hours. The closer one gets to Kelowna, the more likely that the restaurant will be open year-round. Restaurants throughout the valley often have great incentives and special going during the winter. Look for winemaker’s dinners and other great events to happen in these times. Calling ahead is the best way for this.
If you do make it to a winery, wine shop people can be a lot more interesting in the winter. With less people around, wine shop staff usually have much more time to chat and aren’t in as much of a rush as they would be in the busy summer season.You may also be the first and only customer that the person behind the bar has seen or will see all day! You can learn quite a lot about the winery and hear about more intricate details about each wine when there isn’t a crush of people crowding the wine shop tasting bar.