Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. Western News file photo

Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. Western News file photo

Okanagan Taste: Annual open houses start the holiday season

Allison Markin is a food and libations column focusing on the Okanagan

As shown by the lengthy list of events accompanying this column, it is time to fill your holiday season calendar with visits to winery open houses throughout the valley and slightly beyond, as pockets of winery associations gear up with décor and deals.

Starting in West Kelowna, the wineries of the Westside Wine Trail open their doors on Dec. 3 for Sip into the Season, billed as a wine and craft tour. Each winery welcomes artisans and crafters in their tasting rooms and cellars. This is a self-guided tour with more than a dozen wineries participating, so pace yourself as you pick up wine and gifts — like keychains made of wine corks.

In Summerland, the wineries of Bottleneck Drive Light Up the Vines on Nov. 18, 25 and 26, spreading their event over two weekends, a good move as this is very popular. Wineries, cideries and a brewery invite guests to celebrate the sparkle of the holiday season with this seventh annual event. If you can’t get out and tour, look for pours at Summerland’s 30th annual Festival of the Lights on Nov. 24.

Early shoppers? This weekend is the annual Holiday Cheer Open House at the wineries of Okanagan Falls, both Saturday and Sunday. Each winery does it their way – some with live music, home-baked cookies, library vintages, mulled wine and releases. Wineries will also be collecting non-perishable goods to donate to local charities.

Further south, what was formerly known as Rosé Revolution in the Oliver-Osoyoos wine region is now Be Merry, the official launch of the Festival of the Trees. Held at the beautiful Frank Venables Theatre, enjoy wines, including rosé, live music, and delicious bites on Nov. 25.

Hitting the open houses? Use a tour company or have a designated driver, and have a plan. My advice? Aim for three to five wineries, and make sure to visit at least one that’s new to you.

Save the Date (click the links for more info)

Mondays through Thursdays through Dec. 1, West Kelowna: Quail’s Gate has $5 Happy Hour at the Old Vines Restaurant. Live music on Mondays.

Fridays, Penticton: Enjoy 3-Course Fridays at Play Estate Winery from 5 p.m. Three courses for $29.

November through March, Oliver: Join Intersection winery’s Vinstitute classes and learn about wine and winemaking. Full schedule online.

Fridays till Dec. 1, Okanagan Falls: Enjoy a three-course dinner at Liquidity Bistro with wine pairings.

Nov. 18, Penticton: Mile Zero Wine Bar hosts the Okanagan Nouveau Party, celebrating “Beaujolais” with Tall Tale Wines.

Nov. 18, Penticton: The 10th annual BC VQA Wine Info Centre open house takes place with guest wineries, local art, door prizes and more.

Nov. 18 and 19, Okanagan Falls: Wineries host their annual open house weekend with gift ideas, food pairings and wine samples.

Nov. 18 and 19, Okanagan Falls: Visit Blue Mountain for the Sparkling and Fire Weekend, reserve a spot for a sparkling wine tasting, enjoy live music and more.

Nov. 19, Penticton: Craft Corner Kitchen hosts Improv Dinner Theatre with Peach Gravy Theatre Cooperative. Tickets at Craft Corner or CoWork Penticton.

Nov. 18, 25 and 26, Summerland: The 23 wineries of Bottleneck Drive in Summerland host the 7th annual Light Up the Vines. Wineries, breweries and cideries participate.

Nov. 25, Oliver: Be Merry Eat and Drink at the Frank Venables Theatre as a kick off to the Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country Festival of Trees. Tickets:

Nov. 25, West Kelowna: Mission Hill celebrates the season with Festival of the Trees, vote for your favourite with a donation to the BC Children’s Hospital.

Nov. 26, Kamloops: The wineries if the Kamloops Wine Trail celebrate the season with their Holiday Open House.

Nov. 29, Penticton: Enjoy Comedy Night at BRODO Kitchen, stand-up comedians and delicious food. Get tickets at BRODO.

Nov. 30, Penticton: The last in a lecture series on the business of BC wine, held at the Penticton Public Library – Identity and Cohesion in a Successful Wine Cluster.

Dec. 2, Summerland: Master the art of Meritage, B.C.’s Bordeaux-style blend, with Black Sage Vineyards, hosted at Sumac Ridge.

Dec. 3, West Kelowna: The wineries of the Westside Wine Trail open their doors for Sip into the Season, each winery hosts local artisans and crafters.