Summertime in the Okanagan begs for a roadtrip, an Okanagan fruit stand, and great views.
There are so many options and all of them offer views, great food, the classic Okanagan fruit stand and excellent wine. I call them the Okanagan holy trinity.
The itinerary for an Okanagan roadtrip features the food scene and experiences that introduce you to the bounty of the valley from the south to the north. All of these locations offer food first with maybe some excellent sips as well.
There’s something for everyone at Terrafina on the Golden Mile Wine Bench
First stop on our Okanagan roadtrip is the Golden Mile in Oliver/Osoyoos.
The Okanagan food scene was arguably put on the map by Chef Rod Butters. You might know his popular downtown Kelowna restaurant RauDZ (formerly Fresco) and the iconic crab cappuccino. Many popular local chefs got their start working for Butters and you can find his award winning cookbook at local bookstores throughout BC.
Terrafina was Butters’ southern Okanagan restaurant housed at Hester Creek Winery on the Golden mile Wine Bench in Oliver. Over the pandemic chef Butters passed the torch and the head chef is now Adair Scott. Serving up complimentary casual wine paired dishes including eggs benny, over-fired pizzas, healthy charcuterie plates you can curate yourself and decadent pastas. Terravista is just the place to begin your culinary tour no matter the time of day as long as you don’t mind drinking wine – you’ll realize how well a Chardonnay goes with a buttery eggs benedict! Reservations recommended but it is first come, first served for outdoor seating which fills up fast on those clear Okanagan summer days.
Take advantage of the surrounding vineyards for photo opportunities with family or better yet, try to snag a stay at the modern spanish-style villas with sweeping views of the southern valley.
Get a virtual tour of the museum. Ideal for schools and events.
Conemporary Canadian, Okanagan Dining
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You can stay at this property’s villas but book 6 months in advance for summer peak season.
Platinum Bench serves up a wine and bread tasting on the Black Sage Wine Bench
You’ll only know about the stellar sourdough bread at Platinum Bench if a local tells you or by happy circumstance. I’ll go one step further and tell you to pre-order your bread or risk missing out on bringing these prized loaves along this curated culinary trail (you’ll want it for the next stop).
Platinum Bench is a charming and small boutique winery perched on the Black Sage Bench, another sub-appellation of the Okanagan wine region located in Oliver. The winemakers and stewards are passionately pouring their lucious and bold red wines paired with the artisanal breads made on site by masterbaker Fiona Duncan. A standout pairing is the gorgonzola and fig preserve loaf with their bold berry forward Cabernet Sauvignon.
During my first visit I knew about the bread, I could practically smell it at the neighbouring wine tastings, but didn’t know that it was imperative to pre-order. As I sipped in the Platinum Bench tasting room behind me bicyclists dressed in spandex stopped along their route to retrieve freshly made loaves that are irresistible to anyone who wafts the yeasty goodness. Picnic tables are available for you to enjoy along with some charcuterie in their fridge. But I maintain that you take a loaf with you for our next stop in Penticton.
Delicious bread made fresh daily.
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Get there early to ensure you can grab a loaf or two.
Upper Bench Winery; Canada’s only wine and cheese club
We travel north into Penticton on our Okanagan roadtrip.
As a foodie covering the Okanagan region for over a decade I came to realize how much it has in common with the Italian food scene. Locally made cheese, bread, wine, fruit is not only valued but required to produce a dish that reflects the region in its purest form.
Okanagan cheese makers such as Upper Bench Winery & Creamery is Canada’s only wine and cheese club that can be shipped directly to your home. I like to pop in for a quick wine and cheese tasting (see how that Platinum Bench bread now comes into play?) to stock up on any local gluten free cheese during my stay in the area. Trust me, there’s nothing better than coming back from a long day of wine tasting or at the beach to be greeted by fresh sourdough from Platinum Bench and Upper Bench’s buttery rich double cream brie cheese to nibble on throughout the evening – or in this case during a road trip!
Upper Bench ↗
170 Upper Bench Road South, Penticton, BC Canada
Cheese shop, Wine, Pizza, Charcuterie
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Pre-book a tasting experience to avoid disappointment in the peak season.
Vancouver chef Ned Bell breathes new life into historic Naramata Inn
Naramata is my personal favourite for a good getaway. It’s an Okanagan roadtrip tradition for my family to head to the small village of Naramata is a short 15-20 minute drive from downtown Penticton. It is my preferred place to stay within the Okanagan for a quiet getaway into the vineyard hills with a landscape that calls Tuscany to mind but made better with Okanagan lake at the centre of it all.
Within this historic village that is truly hidden away from most travellers, you’ll find the Naramata Inn. It has been a staple within the community since the turn of the century but in 2020 Vancouver chef Ned Bell has breathed new life into its walls and menu.
Focusing on local and seasonal ingredients served upon opulent antique china in a boutique hotel with only 12 mission-style rooms, a visit to the inn is a trip back in time to when regattas reigned on the serpentine Okanagan lake. The menu changes with each season and the wine list is expertly curated by Sommelier Emily Walker to guide you. It is a bit of luxe in an unexpected and lesser known corner of the Okanagan.
During its opening season each guest was treated to unexpected amuse bouches like fresh brioche with local apricot preserves or main dishes of crisp duck enriched with blackberry and rosehip gastrique. Of course, Chef Ned Bell brought the ocean with him with dishes like delicate scallops, wild BC sablefish with local pears, or a BC classic of salmon chowder with Salt Spring Island mussels and locally foraged sumac.
The sounds of clinking glasses, the murmur of soft conversations gently echoed against the wooden patio and neighbourhood peacocks chanting in the distance at sunset is a welcomed return for both locals and travellers looking for something uniquely Okanagan.
3625 1 St, Naramata, BC V0H 1N0
Contemporary Canadian with BC focus
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Stay at the historic inn! Book in advance. Beast deals off season of course. Beach just a 1 min walk away.
Elma is a definite foodie stop in Penticton. A Turkish inspired restaurant with tapas, expertly crafted cocktails and a delightful wine list from both international and local wineries, you’ll want to while away the evening while the sun is setting. The two tiered restaurant was built for views and is perfect for watching boats on the Okanagan Lake or people watching at street level. The stylish interior makes it stand out in Penticton as the only of its kind, offering just what Penticton needed – aesthetic and style.
Seriously good food to be had with an ever changing menu but DO NOT miss an opportunity to enjoy a “flat bread” which is actually a baguette stuffed with various fillings and then woodfired in the kitchen. This is the dish I dream about coming back to!
994 Lakeshore Dr W, Penticton, BC V2A 1C1
Contemporary Turkish Tapas
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Reservations recommended. Go for happy hour. Not a bad spot in the house although window or patio is coveted.
Iconic Okanagan Fruit Stand; Pick your own fruit at Paynter’s Market
Continuing to our next Okanagan roadtrip stop is a necessity. An Okanagan fruit stand.
Your visit to the Okanagan isn’t complete without a stop to a local Okanagan fruit stand. One of my preferred farms is Paynters in West Kelowna because they allow you to pick your own fruit for less. The property is hidden off the highway not far from popular wineries like Off The Grid (owned by the Paynter family) or Kalala Vineyards.
Head into the orchards with your little ones and show them where BC food comes from thanks to the local farmers that grow fruit that is the envy of Canada. Apricots, peaches, plums and pears are all available for u-pick while in season. A short trek into their farmland in the hot Okanagan weather gives you an appreciation for your local farmer as beads of sweat form in an effort to reach the ripest fruit. Kids frolic between the fruit trees impatient for their first bite of freshly picked apricots and plums that’ll surely make for sticky hands.
3687 Paynter Rd, West Kelowna, BC V4T 1R1
Fruit, Baked Goods, Local Fare
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Grab some goodies and head up the hill to Off The Grid Winery & Farm for a picnic & photos with goats
A day at the lake; Pane Vino Pizzeria in Oyama, Gatzke Farms & Beach Time
Our final Okanagan roadtrip destination is Oyama, a small isthmus of land sandwiched between the bright Caribbean blue Kalamalka Lake and Wood lake. Kalamalka is a summertime dream with beaches and quiet lakes compared to the larger Okanagan lake alternative. Calmer waters allow for ideal SUP boarding conditions and you can even try cliff jumping at a few key areas around the lake.
After some time at the Kaloya Regional Park beach at Kalamalka lake I suggest spending your final foodie day in this area starting with Pane Vino Pizzeria. The small restaurant focuses on farm to table pizza but maintaining its authentic Neapolitan roots. Both owners are 100% Italian and Patrizio Importa, born and raised in Naples, has his pizzaiolo diploma. You’ll feel like family in this stylish pizza shop with grape vines draped over the coveted exterior patio seating. I don’t know of a better place to enjoy their Primavera pizza with salty prosciutto, bitter arugula and creamy fior di latte cheese fired in their black and white tiled wood pizza oven. Don’t forget the creamiest kick of tiramisu this side of the Mediterranean! Just the treat after a day at the beach!
Continue your journey supporting local with another iconic Okanagan fruit stand at Gatzke’s Market, a short jaunt across the road from Pane Vino. There you can shop through food that boasts a 100 km diet where everything is sourced or harvested within 100 km for a truly local experience. Third generation farmers make Gatzke special and great grandma’s fruit pies are still made how they were in 1941. An Okanagan fruit stand stop popular with families for its delicious food, fresh produce and the cozy grapevine arbor to enjoy the view of both Kalamalka and Wood lake over naturally syrupy peaches and famously sweet Okanagan cherries (try the sunset yellow Rainier cherries!).
Get an Okanagan dining guide upon sign up + a discount for a Kelowna Foodie Card