Get a taste of the vivacious Okanagan lifestyle with award-winning local sparkling wines.
You may know it by a variety of names: champagne; prosecco; cava; spumanti; brut; bubbly; fizz. However you label it, this effervescent beverage has given wine enthusiasts a reason to cheer for almost 500 years.
We’re so fortunate in BC to be able to grow grapes that are perfect for these sparkling sippers. Hot summers with long days, cool falls, moderate winters –these are the conditions that are perfect for peppy wines. Local wineries use traditional champagne-style grapes, such as chardonnay and pinot noir, as well as more unexpected and innovative cold-weather varietals like gamay, gewurztraminer, pinot gris, and riesling. Our talented Okanagan winemakers coax the flavours into world-class, uniquely BC bubblies.
What is Sparkling Wine?
Most sparkling wine is created by a process of double fermentation. All wine is fermented once in a barrel or a tank to turn the sugars in the juice into alcohol. Bubbly undergoes a second fermentation to create the carbonation. This is usually done by one of two methods.
Under the traditional method, wine is bottled and a small amount of still wine, sugar, and active yeast (the liqueur de triage) is introduced. The bottles are temporarily capped while the new sugars are consumed and converted by the yeast. Once fermentation is complete, the spent yeast (now called lees) falls to the bottom. Winemakers will let the bottles rest on the lees for varying amounts of time to develop the individual flavour profile.
Each bottle is slowly, painstakingly turned (or riddled) as the wine ages, in order to eventually direct this sediment toward the neck of the bottle. By the end of the aging process, the bottles will be upside-down, so that all of the lees are collected there. When they are ready, the upside-down bottles are flash-frozen at the neck, then turned right-side up. When the temporary cap is removed, the icy lees bullet shoots out of the bottle, voila! At this point, the bottles must be topped up with still wine, to make up the difference in volume (and to displace the oxygen that has now gotten into the bottle). This is called a dosage, and is a measured amount of sweet, still wine. The level of sweetness in the dosage will affect the level of dryness in the wine –ranging from very sweet doux to very dry extra-brut. The finished bottles are then capped with a cork and a wire museult to keep the top from popping before you’re ready to drink.
A similar, but more modern production method is called the Charmat (or tank) method. Bubbly produced this way undergoes its secondary fermentation inside the tank before bottling. The tank is specially pressurized to capture the CO2, much in the same way the individual bottles would, but the wine does not have as much prolonged contact with the lees, and there is no need to top-up the bottles with a dosage. The resulting wine is generally more youthful and fruit-forward on the nose and palate. Many Okanagan wine drinkers enjoy the bright flavours of these fizzy delights. We like West Kelowna’s Niche Wine Company Small Batch Bubbles.
Traditional and tank method bubbles are proven, and always turn out flavourful, phenomenal sparklers. Yet, here in the Okanagan, we have the benefit of being an up-and-coming wine region, which means our producers can afford to take risks. Some local winemakers employ an ancient method of producing bubbles called pet-nat. Pétillant-naturel wines are made by bottling the wine before the first fermentation is complete, thereby allowing the lees and carbonation to form from the initial fermentation. Pet-nat wines are usually not disgorged, proudly showcasing their innate cloudiness and rich flavours. They are increasingly popular here in this exceptional wine country.
With all that effort, it’s no wonder that sparkling wine is considered a luxury!
Many people save bubbles just for special occasions, but every day is special here in this four-season paradise. Ready to settle in a sparkling neighbourhood? Jane Hoffman Group represents finest homes in the Okanagan, including a collection of distinctive properties near Kelowna’s best wineries.
Perfectly located between Summerland and West Kelowna along picturesque Highway 97, Peachland is a lovely and lively surprise. A quaint traditional beach town that has grown up, Peachland offers a welcome retreat from the busy everyday. This tight-knit and welcoming community runs from the lakeshore to the mountaintops, boasting a well-designed village centre, modern beachfront condos and cottages, well-established orchards and vineyards, and spacious hillside properties surrounded by soaring ponderosas.
The Fitzpatrick family are pillars of the BC winemaking world (and far beyond). When they recently decided to focus their efforts wholeheartedly on their Greata Ranch property, they put an emphasis on their sparkling program. Chardonnay and pinot noir from some of the valley’s oldest vines are joined by perfectly-suited petite meunier –all key ingredients for exceptional champagne-style fizz. Fitzpatrick’s estate-grown, traditional method sparklers are being touted for their single-vintage flavours that bring out the best of their enviable lakeside location.
Mission Hill is the crowning jewel of this neighbourhood. An architectural masterpiece, the bell tower is an iconic beacon for this incredible winery. World-renowned for its collection of internationally-acclaimed wines, the compound is also home to an incredible seasonal restaurant, a popular concert series, a wine-history centre, and series of beautiful private event spaces. Their sparkling wine, Exhilarat!on Brut, is 100% chardonnay, produced in the tank method. It expresses the crisp acidity of the Okanagan orchard, along with sweet stone fruit notes and plenty of cheerful energy.
A magical winery noted for its spiritual ambience, lively restaurant, and stunning location, Summerhill produces eight different sparkling wines. Their multi-award-winning Cipes Brut –a traditional method blend of organically-grown riesling, chardonnay and pinot blanc– has been called the best sparkling wine in Canada, making it a wonderful ambassador of this Okanagan paradise.
Stretching to the southernmost tip of Kelowna, the Upper Mission is a utopia of hiking trails, secluded beaches, and uninterrupted views. Beckoning to residents who seek adventure and those who prefer tranquility, this beautiful neighbourhood is only minutes to all of Kelowna’s amenities.
Newly rebuilt, breathtaking CedarCreek is a landmark Kelowna winery, with expansive vineyards overlooking the lake, an exceptional restaurant, and celebrated wines. Their tank method, 100% muscat Home Block Sparkling Brut, their first foray into bubbly, beautifully incorporates tart citrus and soft pear flavours.
Lake Country feels a world away from the bustle of Kelowna, although it’s only a few minutes north. Charming village centres are surrounded by pastoral orchards and farms, forested hillsides, and gorgeous lakes in every direction. Active residents enjoy the ready access to nature and the friendly, small-town community feel.
A pioneer in the BC wine industry, Gray Monk has produced world-class wines for more than 4 decades. Influenced by the crisp, clean flavours of Alsace, they’ve developed a portfolio of wines that proudly highlight the one-of-a-kind BC terroir. Nestled in the peaceful greenery of Lake Country, they create their Odyssey Rosé Brut in the traditional method, bringing forth the flavours of cherries and berries, with an underlying nutty creaminess.
Celebrate this magical corner of the world and raise your glass to your next Okanagan Valley property.
Contact the Jane Hoffman Group to get started.