Originally published April 2016.
Christine Campbell writes weekly on her wine blog Girls Go Grape and is a contributing writer for the Alcohol Professor. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Christine sits on the B.C. VQA assessment panel. Follow Christine each #WineWednesday on Girls Go Grape Twitter and Facebook.
If you’re an adventurous traveler, you crave new experiences and exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations. If you love the great outdoors, there is nothing quite like camping in supernatural British Columbia. Whether you prefer to rough it in a tent or pull up in a state-of-the-art RV, you’ll be thrilled with what lies ahead. Pair this road trip camping journey with world-class winery visits and you have yourself one outstanding itinerary.
Starting your road trip in Vancouver, load up on your podcasts and get your music going as you drive out of the Lower Mainland and travel east toward Hope, B.C., where you will meet up with the Crowsnest Highway 3. This highway will take you through some of British Columbia’s most stunning scenery of the Similkameen Valley onto Canada’s only desert. You will encounter mountain vistas, river valleys and wildlife en route to award-winning wineries.
Stay for a night at E. C. Manning Provincial Park. With over 250 campsites to choose from and a mountain lodge nearby for supplies, explore this park’s natural beauty during its 75th anniversary. Manning Park is located two and a half hours east of Vancouver and covers more than 175,000 acres. Hike the mountain meadows, relax with some bird watching or go fishing in Lightning Lake.
Next day, head off toward Keremeos and Cawston – the two wine centres of the Similkameen Valley. Here you will find Canada’s “Organic Capital,” where more than 40 percent of all crops are grown organically. You will find charming boutique wineries awaiting your arrival in one of the “World’s Five Best Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of,” according to EnRoute Magazine.
Pull into the Cathedral Lakes Lodge if you are looking for a cozy place to sleep, or continue onto Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park, which offers more than 50 “hike-in” tent sites. Located 6,800 feet above sea level, this provincial park offers amazing recreational activities like canoeing, mountain climbing, fishing and hiking. After a 20-minute drive into town, you will be sampling some excellent Similkameen Valley wines in Keremeos and Cawston.
Clos du Soleil Winery will impress you with their Bordeaux-style wines. The tasting room opens for the season on April 30. Be sure to try their Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve 2012 -- a stunning red blend. Keremos’s Capella is a delightful sipper for you Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon white wine lovers.
Robin Ridge Winery produces a nice portfolio of wines with their flagship grape, Gamay, leading the way. Their Chardonnay displays great minerality. The owners and winemakers, Tim and Caroline Cottrill, are usually on hand to lead you through a very welcoming tasting as of May 1.
Located a seven-minute drive from Keremeos, Cawston is a must for outstanding wines and organic produce.
Orofino Winery will impress you with their well-crafted wines, solar-powered tasting room and Canada’s first straw-bale winery. Make sure to try the Wild Ferment Syrah, Scout Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Hendsbee Vineyard Riesling. Owners John and Virginia Weber love to share their passion for wine and the Similkameen Valley with guests. Opens May 2.
Rustic Roots Winery offers a chance to sample 100 percent organic fruit wines that are not only delicious but showcase how organic farming and winemaking work hand-in-hand. Try their Fameuse sparkling wine, made with organic Fameuse apples and Santa Rosa plums, and their dessert wine Iced Orin. Sara Harker is Rustic Roots’s fifth generation farmer, current winemaker and a champion of organic winemaking. Their tasting room is open April 1 through Dec. 22 and then by appointment Jan. 4 to March 31.
Now it’s time to head even farther into Canada’s only desert – Osoyoos, B.C. Located at the northernmost tip of the Sonoran Desert, Osoyoos is also home to Canada’s warmest freshwater lake and is the country’s “Hot Spot,” with daytime temperatures soaring beyond 95 degrees in the summer. This is where you’ll want to set up your tent or find a shady RV spot for a few nights. Osoyoos Lake offers many places to camp – most of which are lakeside sites. Cabana Beach Campground & RV Park, sẁiẁs Provincial Park (Haynes Point) and Nk’Mip Resort Campground offer great locations to stay and use as a home base.
La Stella Winery offers a chance to try amazing wines made by the remarkable and talented winemaker, Severine Pinte. At La Stella, Italy is the inspiration, so enjoy a guided tasting flight of labels such as ‘Lastellina’ Rosato, ‘Vivace’ Pinot Grigio and be prepared to be awed by the ‘Fortissimo’ blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc. Open daily March 15 through Oct. 31.
Moon Curser Vineyards is where you will find an intriguing border-town story, some fantastic wine and interesting grape varieties. Try their “little rascal” Arneis white and their exciting Carménère and Tempranillo single varietal reds and you’ll understand why Moon Curser is so popular. Open daily April through October.
Nk’Mip Cellars (pronounced in-Ka-meep) is Canada’s first owned and operated aboriginal winery. They produce award-winning wines that sell out fast. Don’t miss their ‘Quam Qwmt’ (kw-em kw-empt) Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling Ice Wine in the tasting room – open year round. While here, discover and explore the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre to learn about Canada’s only desert and the rich history of the Osoyoos people.