Kelowna, British Columbia wine tours review! Tantalus Vineyards, Vibrant Vine, Blind Tiger organic winery tastings.

kelowna vineyards instagram locations spots fashion blogger instagrammable

Io Saturnalia! Happy Sol Invictus!

I’m well aware that these aren’t the happiest times, with rising worldwide numbers and strict lockdowns. Still, we can do our best to channel the ancient Roman festivals and revel in life’s good things… rather than being The Grinch.

In the spirit of Dionysus / Bacchus, the god of wine — let’s take a tipsy walk back in time to last autumn, when I was able to do a safe local trip from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC.

kelowna most beautiful photogenic vineyards wineries photoshoot

This view says it all: British Columbia’s Okanagan has become one of the foremost destinations for wine tours. Read on to see what I experienced and three of the most creative BC wineries: Vibrant Vine, Blind Tiger, and Tantalus (above). 

yvr airport fashion blogger flight outfits suitcase

Instead of driving six hours east from Vancouver, I took a less than 60 minute flight to Kelowna on Flair Airlines. (Note that I flew in early October; check your provincial guidelines for current travel recommendations.)

Flair, a Canadian airline, offers low-cost tickets to destinations all over the country. I was impressed with their safety procedures (seamless check-in behind plexiglass, required face masks, and distancing including the option to purchase an empty middle seat for $49). I felt relaxed throughout my Flair flight, and before I knew it, I had touched down.

hyatt place kelowna hotel bc okanagan hotels

Everything about my trip was relaxing and seamless. I had a cozy stay at Hyatt Place Kelowna — the hotel just opened this year, so all the furnishings and amenities are bright and new.

Loved getting to know the front desk staff, who were happy to share local tips and quickly deliver any items needed, such as extra towels.

Okanagan Rentals Concierge - Luxury car and SUV rentals cars

I was rollin’ through Kelowna in style, thanks to Okanagan Executive Rentals & Concierge. Owner Jeremy Giroux offers a sweet fleet of luxury and exotic rental cars. You can also hire him as an experienced driver and guide in Kelowna — well worth it, especially if you plan to hit multiple wineries in a day.

kelowna wine tour private driver cars for rent

My Kelowna trip wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable without Jeremy’s guidance. He took me to outstanding local wineries in style, in this black Lincoln Navigator. I also rented a Range Rover from him, to drive on my own — much fun!

luxury travel helicopter private flights tours

Jeremy even organized a helicopter ride that landed in Kitsch Winery; see my first post for the aerial adventure. You can find out more about his Okanagan BC rental cars and services on his site.

vibrant vine winery psychedelic vineyard

First stop on this beautiful October day — The Vibrant Vine Winery in East Kelowna. The bright psychedelic colors and flowers give a hint at what’s inside.

3d art winery kelowna vibrant wine three dimensional glasses

The Vibrant Vine is run by the Lewis family, and combines their love of creative drinks and art. Everyone who enters receives a pair of these goggles… because this is a 3D winery! 

 Phil Lewis artist kelowna, 3d owl painting

The entire space is filled with groovy, psychedelic art — including giant paintings on the ceilings. Artist Phil Lewis was already creating eye-popping art — but one day, he viewed his works while wearing 3D glasses. To his surprise, many of the lines seemed to pop out towards him!

Today, he creates paintings like this owl with the help of a computer, using color and textures to bring out the three dimensional elements.

The Vibrant Vine Winery best in canada unique wineries

Put on the 3D glasses, and look around… the dragons and leopards will seem to be lunging out at you! 

As you can see, Phil Lewis’ colorful art covers The Vibrant Vine’s bottle labels  — making them a treat for the eyes, as well as the palate.

vibrant wine bc bottles labels art

I sampled wines with the guidance of a staff member, and it turned out to be one of the most informative tastings I had on this trip. He described Okanagan, BC as being a bit of an experimental “Wild West.” For instance, Vibrant’s smooth and peachy rose blends Pinot Auxerrois and Gewurztraminer, with a blush of Merlot — a technique that isn’t allowed for roses in Europe.

I loved the story of The Vibrant Vine’s signature “Woops” blend. The label was accentually reversed on the bottle — so they just went with it, and continued to produce an upside-down release called “Woops!” The seven-varietal blend was also unknowingly entered in a prestigious Geneva contest, and won “Best White Wine in the World.” (Oops they did it again.)

wine tasting vibrant vine educational wine tours

This vineyard does it all — from a bubbly Vibranté Classique, to a crisp Pinot Grigio with notes of citrus and stainless steel. Vibrant focuses on the underdog, such as a fruit-forward Gamay Noir. With flavors of blackberry, violet and red currant, this red wine is perfect with both Thanksgiving turkey and dim sum.

merlin's merlot phil lewis dog painting

Merlin’s Merlot celebrates art and family, with a snuggly portrait of the Lewis’ golden retriever. This cool climate merlot is aged in oak, and tastes like cherries, plums and figs. (A portion of sales from Merlin the Dog’s wine go to the SPCA animal charity and United Way.) I ended my tasting at The Vibrant Vine with a Riesling ice wine with a bite of dark chocolate — perfection.

Another Lewis brother, Tony, also runs an imaginative winery that uses music to affect the settling of the sediments. You can read about my inspiring visit to Frequency in the previous post.

kelowna vineyard wedding photo locations modeling fashion shoots

Now, let’s honor the wine-loving Greek gods at Tantalus — the oldest continuous vineyard in Kelowna. This winery is named after Tantalus, the unfortunate Greek who was sentenced to eternal punishment. Try as he might, he could never quite reach a handful of fruit or sip of water to quench his hunger and thirst.

tantalus vineyard architecture building modern winery

In ironic contrast, this 72-acre vineyard has been successfully producing grapes since 1927. In 2010, Tantalus Vineyards built this modern-minimalist green building, and opened to the public for tastings.

bc oldest vineyard british columbia tantalus field

On these spectacular grounds, Tantalus grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Meunièr. The vineyard is committed to sustainability: everything is farmed naturally without pesticides, and the vines are hand-tended.

red pinot noir grapes tantalus logo

I’ve grown increasingly interested in wine over the years, and was fascinated to see the vinification process firsthand from start to finish. Wouldn’t you like to dive into this juicy bin of Pinot Noir grapes, like Scrooge McDuck?

stainless steel fermenting wine barrels tour tantalus winery bc

Tantalus took me on a behind-the-scenes tour, and let me peer into the enormous stainless steel tanks filled with wine in various stages.

I got to try “grape juice” that had been fermenting for different numbers of days. Fascinating to taste the difference in yeast, fizziness and sweetness, as the “nectar of the gods” transformed into wine over time.

Okanagan Valley best vineyards luxury modern design

In the barrel room, I learned about the next stages of aging the wine. Some of Tantalus’ varietals undergo malolactic fermentation in French oak. In this process, bacteria convert tart malic acid to lactic acid, creating a richer and creamier texture.

british columbia canadian fashion blogger wine tasting outfit

Tantalus has indoor and outdoor tasting spaces — how beautiful is the natural wood architecture? Fittingly for a BC wine, Tantalus’ labels feature First Nations masks by Dempsey Bob, a woodcarver / sculptor of Tahltan and Tlingit (Northwest Coast) descent.

kelowna pouring wines tantalus bottles labels native canadian art

I contrasted Bear, the young and lightly oaked chardonnay, with their signature version — which had a darker honey color, and flavors of lemon curd and creme brulee.

kelowna bc girls trip bachelorette wine tours

Then, I got to taste the differences between the Maija and flagship Tantalus Pinot Noirs. The first is warm and juicy, with plum and dark cherry flavors. The second has Tantalus’ signature minerality, with floral aromas and surprising hints of cocoa, earth and mushroom.

blind tiger vineyard bc okanagan

As the sun started to set, and I sipped wine while looking out at these fields, I felt as if I was in Elysium. Thanks Tantalus Vineyards for the unforgettable views and lessons in viticulture (wine growing).

blind tiger logo, blindfolded tigers

Finally, Jeremy drove us north to Lake Country, BC to visit a certified organic vineyard. Blind Tiger is a small, family-run operation — and their down-to-earth warmth shines through as soon as you enter the tasting room.

Blind Tiger Vineyards - Tourism Kelowna tastings

Blind Tiger’s young, alternative attitude is reflected though its name. In the days of Prohibition (1920-33), bootleggers set up illegal blue collar speakeasies known as Blind Tigers.  Many had a tiger statue at the entrance. If it wore a cover over its eyes, then come in and party. But if the blindfold was off, the police was watching and you should stay away! 

blind tiger woodfire pizza restaurant, wines

Co-owner Jerry Wowchuk treated me to a flight of Blind Tiger’s organic wines. I was delighted by Giggle Water, a light sparkling blush of chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir (fizzy, with hints of apricot). 

Then, I tried something made for an alien like me… a green-colored wine! Blind Tiger’s 2014 Riesling experienced “noble rot,” or a fungus that turned it green and made it unsellable. However, it’s safe to drink and turned out to be delicious. It was my first time trying this unusual wine — one of the many perks of doing a tasting at an indie winery. 

independent organic vineyards kelowna okanagan

Blind Tiger’s Pinot Noir ice wine was one of the tastiest I’ve ever tried. Harvested from -10 degree frozen grapes, this sweet dessert wine has Asian fruit flavors like lychee, along with mango and apricot. 

Their Riesling is wonderfully tart, with green apple and a touch of petrol on the nose. I highly recommend coming in to Blind Tiger for a tasting, and picking up bottles to take home — as you won’t find their wines at large retailers like BC Liquor. 

small batch family vineyards kelowna bc

I snacked on charcuterie as I sampled wines. In the summers, Blind Tiger offers authentic woodfire pizzas and live music on the patio, which draws in a fun young crowd. I’ll have to come back for a bite. 

kelowna bc at night evening tastings

I feel fortunate to have been able to visit Kelowna in early October, right before the end of wine season.

However, Okanagan Executive Rentals & Concierge can take you on winery tours at any time, as some are open year-round. In the winter, Jeremy offers luxury car rentals and shuttles to ski resorts, spa, and more. 

kelowna bc okanagan car rentals concierge chauffeur hire car

Thanks to Hyatt Place Kelowna for the fab stay. Their accommodations are comfortable, modern and close to everything in the city — such as the downtown district known for its waterfront walk and restaurants. 

kelowna helicopter tours sightseeing rides

And thank you Flair Airlines for the safe and smooth journey through the skies. 

For more Kelowna travel guides, please see my first article about wineries and a private helicopter ride. Coming up in the third and final installment, I’ll explore Naramata Bench. 

robot virtual telepresence art tours museums robots

PS: I wanted to share one of my recent travel articles for Home in Canada magazine. I wrote about testing out a telepresence robot… and going on a virtual tour of the Mass MoCA museum!

Even if we can’t travel to different countries, we can visit museums from a distance by using innovative, remote robotic technology. 

I beamed into a GoBe Robot, using their app on my laptop. The video conferencing puts me “inside” the robot, which is in the Massachusetts art museum. Using remote controls, I could move it through the exhibits as if I were there. 

robot looking at art remote virtual tour

That’s me inside the GoBe telepresence robot! It truly felt as if I were exploring the Mass MoCA in person, and chatting with my guide about Sol LeWitt’s colourful murals. 

gobe robots beam robotics suitable technologies telepresence app

“Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” for letting me travel via AI.

telepresence robot art tour mass moca

Read my article about telepresence robot art tours here, and see a funny video on @lacarmina TikTok and Instagram Reels.

More travel articles and devilish filming projects coming up soon… I’m keeping busy, and finding creative ways to do things remotely. Domo arigato to all of you for your support over the years — I love hearing from those who have known me since my MySpace days! 


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked with *