Viticulture has been a mainstay of the Okanagan’s economy for almost a century, but it has really taken off in the last decade, with local wines exported and winning awards worldwide. Most of the local wineries welcome visitors with tours and tastings year-round (but call ahead outside of summer to check hours). Due to the popularity of visiting the wineries, most now charge a small fee for tasting. Okanagan Wine Country Tours (250/868-9463 or 866/689-9463, www.okwinetours.com ) has a variety of tours, including a full day of touring and tasting for $145 per person.
Across Okanagan Lake from Kelowna  is Mission Hill Family Estate (1730 Mission Hill Rd., Westbank, 250/768-6448), high atop a ridge and surrounded by vineyards with stunning lake views. Mission Hill, British Columbia’s most successful winery, encourages visits, with a a 45-meter-high bell tower open for the public to climb. Three different tours ($7–45 per person) depart daily through the summer, each ending with an informal tasting session.
At nearby Quail’s Gate Estate Winery (3303 Boucherie Rd., 250/769-4451) the reserve pinot noir is a signature wine—enjoy a glass or two alfresco at the winery bistro (11 a.m.–4 p.m. and 5 p.m.–dusk May–Oct.).
Back on the main highway, farther south is Deep Creek Wine Estate (5355 Trepanier Bench Rd., Peachland, 250/767-2525, daily 11 a.m.–5 p.m. mid-April–Oct.). The original owner, Walter Hainle, was a pioneer in the development of ice wines, and while this is the style that the vineyard is best known for (produced under the Hainle name), limited quantities of red and white wines are also produced.
Across the lake from the above wineries is the much-heralded Cedar Creek Estate Winery (5445 Lakeshore Rd., 250/764-8866), where the vineyards and extensive gardens overlook Okanagan Lake. Tours are offered daily 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. May to October.