Wait. Canada has wine?
Yes. Yes it does, and last week I visited Mission Hill Winery.
Mission Hill is located on a hilltop in West Kelowna. It’s only a short drive from my dad’s house (whom I was visiting,) and I had never been there before my visit this past week.
My cousin Mark accompanied me, and considering both of us had never been, we decided to take a guided tour.
Mission Hill is Canada’s largest winery. Being Canada’s largest winery may sound to some of you like being the smartest kid on the short bus, but you may be surprised to learn that Canada actually makes some fantastic wines. Canada’s two main grape growing regions are the Okanogan and the Niagra Delta; Mission Hill being in the Okanogan region.
Canadian wines are coming into their own after more than 50 years of wine production, and improvements. As for Mission Hill, it’s been around since the 1960s, however the modern era of Mission Hill began in 1981 when Anthony von Mandl purchased the estate.
Mission Hill’s founder, von Mandl, has created an estate winery that would not look out of place in Tuscany. He set about building an impressive place, that would last for generations. What he has accomplished is truly spectacular.
When perfection is the goal, it gets noticed. Everything about Mission Hill had perfection in mind. The grounds were meticulously manicured. The staff were knowledgeable and polite. The buildings were immaculate. The wine cellar was stunning. The views were jaw-dropping. And of the course the wine was fantastic.
Mission Hill is what happens when someone has a huge vision, and attacks it with all they’ve got. That is the overall feeling I came away with after visiting. You know a winery has made an impression when you want to come back before you’ve even left.
There’s an outdoor amphitheatre and highly acclaimed restaurant on the grounds of Mission Hill. From what I’ve been told, the restaurant is one of the highest quality restaurants you will find anywhere. The ingredients are locally sourced, and the chefs – just like the owner – are passionate about their craft.
The outdoor amphitheatre hosts summer concerts. There are four scheduled for 2013, and any of them would be amazing to attend. The natural backdrop of Lake Okanogan, paired with the spectacular setting of this fine winery would make for an incredible concert experience.
There’s plenty to see at Mission Hill, and I’d recommend, at least on your first visit, that you take a guided tour. You can book them online through the Mission Hill website. In the busy mid-summer season you’ll want to book ahead. I was told that it was common for more than 1500 people to visit on a single day in July and August.
I don’t know what took me so long to see a landmark of the Okanogan. I’m in Kelowna visiting my dad about twice a year, and had never been to Mission Hill until this past week. Don’t take as long as I did to see this place. It’s truly spectacular, and is an example of someone who dreamed big, and accomplished something magnificent.
Oh, and you can get some wine. I almost forgot.