Kelowna’s Cultural District & Local Sips
Kelowna boasts a bounty of incredible local products: from produce to apparel and everything in between, there’s one thing that really shines in our valley (other than the summer sun, of course): wine, beer, & liquor. The Okanagan Valley has consistently shown its worth with its award-winning wineries and budding breweries, and even a few distinguished distilleries. In fact, it was named the second best wine region to visit in the entire world – and is a strong contender in the rising craft beer scene on the west coast.
We all love enjoying these products at their place of birth (ie at the wineries & breweries), or in our backyards, having purchased them from our favourite liquor store, but on those – rare, maybe frequent -- occasions where we seek to leave the refuge of our homes and face the general public, where do we take our hard-earned cash for a brew or a glass? In Kelowna, we get out of the house to go to our favourite eateries that support our favourite local distillers, brewers, and winemakers; the eateries that pick their favourites from across the valley & BC, and showcase them with pride. Here are a few of our favourite spots that are representing the best.
At the outskirts of Kelowna’s North End, just a stone’s throw from the “Dolphins” you will find Waterfront Wines. Although not on the water and not only serving wine, they truly exemplify the best of the Okanagan Valley with their farm-to-table passion, their champion wine list, and their craft beer & cider selection. To say that Waterfront Wines “sources locally” would be an understatement; it would be more accurate to say that they base their entire restaurant concept on Okanagan grapes, hops, produce, and people. Apparently, the only product they get not from a local farmer/artisan is salt from Italy, some international cheeses, and a couple international beers, as popular picks for tourists.
You can find a list of all their local suppliers on their website! Every server & bartender also seems to have memorized every spec about every wine/beer/morsel they offer; so, when you can’t pick something out of the delicious many, the staff are there to help you find the perfect sip & bite. For wines, there are too many excellent Okanagan choices to list. Everything from old favourites to new up-and-coming, like the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyard Gewurztraminer. At the end of the day, they offer delicious food & drinks and support our local businesses and economy. What’s more Okanagan than that?
They just so happen to brew their own *excellent* beer, and won Gold for Best Brewery in Kelowna, but, in addition to their own beers on tap, they exclusively represent BC craft beers (on draught) and Okanagan Valley wines. You will be hard-pressed to find another restaurant with a comparable local wine and beer selection. For beers, they’re offering a selection of kegs from breweries like Four Winds (Delta), the elusive Crannog (Sorrento), and even a few very close to home like Tree, Bad Tattoo, and Marten Brewing (Kelowna, Penticton, and Vernon, respectively). They even featured the “Nectarous” dry-hopped sour from Four Winds on tap, which just won best beer in Canada! If you prefer grapes over hops, you’ll be sure to appreciate the comprehensive list, curated by our very own Partner Carolyn Nixon. Her picks include not just the well-known local favourites, but some lesser-known choices from up-and-coming vineyards who are claiming the top prizes for domestic and international awards. And just when you thought it didn’t get better, their food menu, full of exciting fusion bar food, pairs excellently with beer, wine, and cocktails. BNA's laid-back, lounge-slash-hunting lodge-slash-cool aunt’s house vibe doesn’t hurt either. So basically, it’s worth getting off your couch to go chill on BNA’s couch with your favourite local bev. (The cocktails are top shelf too, but that’s for another article!)
Refreshingly, they’re not just another pub (although they did win Gold for best Pub in Kelowna). The Train Station, just kitty-corner to BNA, and about a block-and-a-half from Waterfront Wines, will impress you with their local-forward wine and beer selection. They too have an exclusively BC craft beer draught list, and their wine list showcases a majority of excellent Okanagan reds & whites. They devote one of their taps to the *official* winner of Great Okanagan Beer Fest, and the rest of their taps range with beers from the backyard like Big Surf & Prohibition Brewing, to down the Coquihalla and across the straight with breweries like Steamworks, Phillips, Whistler. They also carry beer from Crannog, which is an immediate sign that they are a pub to respect: Crannog is an all-organic brewery in Sorrento, BC, and they don’t just give kegs to anyone: they only work with other businesses that care about local products, sustainability, and craft beer culture the way that they do. The Train Station, like Waterfront Wines, currently has Crannog’s “Back Hand of God” stout, which is a formidable Okanagan favourite that you can only find at a handful of locally minded establishments. The Train Station has clearly done their research to set their pub apart from the masses. Plus, it’s chock full of Kelowna history: it was built in 1926 as one of the first train stations in Kelowna. They don’t call the north end the “cultural district” for no reason!
1oz Okanagan Spirits Blackcurrant Liqueur
Fitz sparkling wine
Pour Okanagan Spirits Blackcurrant Liqueur into flute, top with Fitz. Garnish with fresh or frozen berries, and enjoy! The combination of gin, lemon juice, and sparkling brings out the best in each! Tart, refreshing and lively, this drink will be the perfect fit for any weekend get together or brunch.