Food & Wine Photo Credit: Janis Nicolay

12 Essential Okanagan Wines

Food and travel editor Neal McLennan picks a mixed case that covers the region’s most exciting producers.

Meyer Family Chardonnay For many consumers, it all comes down to chard. Alberta transplant Jak Meyer makes a structured wonder that’s more Pouilly-Fuissé than Sonoma-Cutrer.

Martin’s Lane Riesling Mission Hill makes a fortune selling well-priced, well-made wine, but this buy-at-the winery-only passion project is one of the hidden deals in the valley. For now.

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Year in, year out, the Okanagan’s greatest expression of this noble grape and the bottle I’d bring to California to show what we can do that they can’t.

Stoneboat Pinot Gris The OK produces oceans of this grape—most of it insipid and forgettable—but Stoneboat always manages to capture its freshness—for under $20.

JoieFarm Rosé It has an alluring vintage variation that is actually a breath of fresh air. And every producer makes rosé now because of this wine that started the pink revolution.

Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc New wineries eschew this grape because it’s not sexy, but in the hands of veterans like the Mavety family, it’s a near-perfect varietal to plant for the climate.

best okanagan red wine

Foxtrot Pinot Noir The closest we get to good Burgundy here both in price (it’s $$$) and in its high-acid approach that eschews the fruit-forward profile so many others are making.

Spierhead Pinot Noir Good OK pinot risked being a rarefied treat for the deep-pocketed until this new winery came along and knocked it out of the park for $20. The pinot of the future.

Poplar Grove Cab Franc Poplar Grove is harnessing the alluring power of this difficult-to-cultivate but beautifully seductive grape that may be the varietal that comes to define Okanagan reds.

Moon Curser Touriga Nacional No wine captures the spirit of innovation more than this impossible-to-find, against-the-odds triumph from down south. Has become the stuff of legends.

Painted Rock Syrah Their Red Icon may be the bottle you bring to impress the dinner party, but this juicy, spice-driven syrah captures the OK’s potential to make Rhône-style wines.

Haywire Gamay Made with a varietal that everyone should be growing, this wine is a masterful expression of the Okanagan’s ability to work magic with under-the-radar grapes. WL

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