The lure of this iconic vacation destination has long been irresistible and more than ever, Summerland is calling. Yes, there is plenty of sunshine with long summers as declared in its name with supreme beach days, boating, hiking, biking, and bountiful fresh produce.
Plus, the other seasons here are a celebration of the simple pleasures of life such as spending time with friends and family, golfing, touring local wineries, cideries, distilleries and breweries; exploring fruit stands and the farmers’ market; and shopping eclectic shops throughout town.
Summerland is also known for its innovation and discovery. The Summerland Research and Development Centre (Summerland RDC) was established in 1914 and is one of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s network of 20 research and development centres. Its research addresses mitigation of environmental pressures, control of biological threats and integration of sustainable production and processing systems for the delivery of high quality, value-added horticultural and agri-food products.
Like comprehensive research and a healthy garden, good things evolve over time. You need to return regularly to reap what’s new in Summerland and surrounding regions.
Haywire wines have grown from a tiny virtual wine production incubated at the Okanagan Crush Pad (OCP). After 11 successful years of running Canada’s first purpose-built custom crush winemaking business and watching its startup clients grow their wings, the OCP team has bid adieu to its original business model. As Haywire has grown into OCP’s anchor brand with recognition across Canada and in Europe, it has earned its place as lead demanding the full production space and consequently OCP has been renamed to Haywire Winery.
The facility closed to the public in 2022 while a complete renovation and rebranding unfolded. Says Christine Coletta, Haywire’s co-owner, “The rebrand demonstrated our commitment to bold steps forward as a winery team and to refine a wine style for the central Okanagan region as bright, lively, fresh and uncomplicated.”
The well-crafted wines sport new labels and packaging that pulls from the stunning mural artwork onsite by Vancouver artist Scott Sueme. The new 1,500-square-foot modern tasting lounge also celebrates the mural and displays a few of his original pieces. Adjacent to the crush pad and wine cellar, the winery lounge offers contemporary comfort and ringside seats to the winemaking action.
A true demonstration of the dedication of the Haywire team has been the saga of General Manager Craig Pingle making it to work despite the Highway 97 rockslide closure north of Summerland. He has hiked into Garnet Valley, boated Lake Okanagan and even paraglided!
VIP Tasting at Garnet Valley Ranch
Coletta also revealed the team has built a VIP tasting room on their Garnet Valley Ranch Winery property. “This small and thoughtful tasting room steps lightly on the 320-acre organic property,” she noted. “What’s more, we are making wines for the Garnet Valley Vineyard name for release in 2023.”
For now, Haywire club members and VIPS will be taken exclusively for a site preview. This area has previously been a bit of a locals’ secret and is off the beaten path of Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive. Amid the pristine and rugged beauty, other vineyards besides Garnet Valley Vineyards have begun to emerge.
This season, Summerland’s newest winery was launched by Proprietors Andrea and Bob Sartor as Solvero Wines swung open its doors in Garnet Valley for guests to experience its inaugural wine releases.
After almost 10 years of vineyard development and building, the newly constructed winery offers tastings guided by Alison Moyes, winemaker and general manager, or Matt Sartor, president and vineyard manager. You’ll learn about the land, vineyard, and philosophies reflected in every glass. Inspired by the Latin word meaning “truth in soil”, Solvero was named to reflect the team’s integrity and honesty in all aspects of viticulture and winemaking.
Solvero’s Garnet Valley estate vineyard is one of the highest in BC at 600 meters and the wildlife and bordering forests are integral to the landscape. Moyes carefully selected the grapes and crafted them into premium wines showcasing the essence of rugged, steep terrain with well-draining soils that produce Exquisite Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Don’t miss the initial small lot releases, which include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir Rose.
Ve Oh Lay Acres
New, too, this season was the opening of Summerland’s only honey winery and petting farm — Ve Oh Lay Acres. Laurent and Maddison Violet are reviving the family’s six generations of winemaking with a little spin on tradition by producing mead.
This young and fun-loving couple are maintaining an apple orchard, vineyard, greenhouses, beehives, and a petting farm that grew from two goats to over 100 animals. Open regular hours March to October, it’s also open for Ve Oh Lay events throughout the year or available to book for special events and birthday parties.
In addition to offering cider tastings, a small delightful food menu, and an incredibly child friendly, Ve Oh Lay supports other producers by selling a number of curated items.
Ryga Arts Festival
Inspired by playwright, novelist and poet George Ryga, and his values for social justice, the Ryga Arts Festival is a vibrant celebration of the arts in the Okanagan.
The festival preview for this year’s installment was held at SummerGate Winery, hosted by Mike and Gillian Stohler and family. The preview bodes well for the festival, September 20 to 24.
Haywire, SummerGate and Solvero are all part of Bottleneck Drive, the Summerland touring route which includes some 18 cideries, breweries, distilleries, and of course, wineries.
Isn’t it time you answered the call of Summerland?