• Sparkling Pink wine being disgorged and bottled.
  • Lou gets ready to pour.
  • New friends have finished lunch and are ready to get back to the wine!
  • New friends!
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Welcome to Wine Country!


We've picked our guests up at their hotel/motel/B+B and at approximately 11 am the adventure begins.

Our first winery produces under 7000 cases of wine a year at present. Both reds and whites. They've won numerous awards particularly for their reds (merlot in particular). Their winemaker is well known and has produced or consulted for many of the top wineries in the valley and even produces his own amazing label.

After a short spiel about the Okanagan wine industry and our schedule for the day everyone heads into the winery for our tasting.

winery 1

Many of our clients have not done a tasting before so we often will take our clients through the process of tasting.

  • Appearance:
    • clarity
    • intensity
    • color
  • Nose:
    • condition
    • intensity
    • aroma characteristics
  • Palate:
    • sweetness
    • acidity
    • tannins
    • body
    • flavor characteristics
    • length of finish

After our tasting many clients who enjoy the wine not only purchase at bottle or more but often join the wine clubs that many of the wineries we visit possess. Every single wine club is run differently. There is always someone available at the wineries we visit to explain how theirs work. Most cost nothing to join

After our tasting and purchases have been made we may take a few minutes to look around the grounds or perhaps even the production facilities if they're available. Many photos are taken as the winery grounds and/or the views are usually spectacular

winery 2

Our second winery has almost a cult following and has a very low production of around 5000 cases. These wines are very hard to find and the winery sells out every year. There are more reasons than wine to visit here though. The owner is hands on and greets evryone who enters the gates. A beautiful view of Okanagan Lake. Art work covers the walls as well as the grounds while t-shirts and other products besides wine are attracting a lot of attention. Particularly the footwear.

The winery owner has been producing wine on the Naramata Bench for more than 20 years and actually sold her premier winery to downsize production to a point where she could maintain hands on control and still be able to do her favorite thing. Meet customers and guests who walk throught the door and have them taste the wine.

Whites and reds are served to our clients. bright and crisp, the whites are a hit with everyone while a particular red wine, the flagship red, has even the palates who dislike red wine lining up for a bottle.

Our tasting is done outside as it's warm and sunny and because the winery is so popular we all looked around at the products and art work or took photos outside of the magnificent view. Now it's time for one more winery before lunch

winery 3

Our third winery is another small treasure that's had a lot of attention surrounding their Pinot Noir. Two time winner of the prestigious BC Lieutenant Governor Award and a sell out early in the season. This is a sought after wine.

The two dogs greet us as do the winery dogs at many of the wineries we visit. A belly rub is always appreciated by both parties. The owner is in the vineyard and waves. He'll be in the wine shop in a moment. The vineyard work is never done. Everyone enters the small tasting room as our knowledgeable hostess greets us and gets our tasting started.

Because this winery uses wild fermentation for some of their wines, the flavors and aromas of these wines are very different than any others we've tried today. The whites boast more tropical notes. Every tasting is accompanied by a discussion of "what to serve with it". Time for lunch

Lunch

Todays lunch is in Naramata. We travel the few kilometres, park in the shade and are shown to a large row of patio tables also in the shade. Some are 'wine-full' and order water, coffee or tea while a few others order a local craft brew and a brave couple order a flight of Okanagan wines. Wood oven pizzas, seasonal pastas and some special items grace our menu and everyone chooses something different.

winery 4

After lunch it's back on the bus to continue with our tour. Constraints dictate we have time for one more winery so let's do something different AND special. We're off to a winery that specializes in fruit wines. Not your average fruit wines, either. These are some of the most award winning fruit wines in Western Canada and this winery is arguably the most visited winery on the Bench. We get to try their sparkling wine along with their dinner wines, dessert wines and their 'Port Style". No one is disappointed and everyone has found at least one favorite.

After our purchasing, onto the bus for the scenic trip 'home'. The wine is unloaded at the various accomodations as the happy clients exchange contact information with their new found friends and plans are made for return visits and a well deserved nap before the evenings activities.

We've enjoyed hosting everyone and look forward to many returning next year.

If you haven't had an opportunity to join us on one of our epic tours, book now!









Naramata Bench Daily Tour

4 hours $90+HST **ALL INCLUSIVE**

(Lunch included, all tasting fees included)


The Naramata Bench is 10 km long and is situated on the Eastern shore Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada. Accessable only by way of Penticton, a city of 40,000 sandwiched between Okanagan and Skaha Lakes. Okanagan Lake is 135 km long, between 4 and 5 km wide and suports the communities of Penticton, Naramata, Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna, Winfield and Vernon.

Of these communities Naramata is the smallest with it's population of 2000 and is often described as a "Hamlet. Naramata 'proper' is located at the Northern end of the Naramata Bench which includes the city of Penticton at it's extreme South. Most of the Naramata wineries are under the umbrella of the Naramata Winery Association.

This tiny area of land is unique in terroir to any other part of the Okanagan and is currently requesting 'sub-appellation' status. With it's West facing slopes, soil of fine clay silt, glacial till and lava rock presents the wines grown in the region with very uniques properties.

The Naramata Bench hosts 28 wineries. That's almost 3 per kilometer. Each winery is unique from it's neighbor in every way. Wine, atmosphere and experience. White and red grapes are grown on the bench although white is more promenant. That doesn't mean the Naramata wineries are suffering for red wine. Most wineries make as much reds as whites. The majority of red grapes come from the South Okanagan (Oliver/Osoyoos) or the Similkameen Valley just to the West of the Okanagan.

Many of these wineries are Estate or Farmgate winery licenses. This means that along the entire Okanagan region is20,829 square kilometers (8,042 mi) there is somewhere around 150 wineries but this number fluxuates throughout the months.

Join us as we visit the Naramata Bench and visit several wineries along the scenic Naramata Rd and lunch at one of the amazing bistros and patios along the route.

Make sure to bring your camera for the amazing views you will experience and a healthy appreciation for good wine and food! Book early for peak summer. Especially for weekends. If you're looking for some place to stay, check out our partners. Many of them have inclusive/exclusive tours with us available throughout the season but do BOOK EARLY to avoid disappointment.

For more information about local wineries and information about your stay in the Okanagan including accommodation, local attractions and other information visit the BC VQA Wine Information Centre. Tell them we sent you!

 

Summerland (Bottleneck Drive) Daily Tour

4 hours $90+HST **ALL INCLUSIVE**

(Lunch included, all tasting fees included)


Summerland is located on the West side of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley and has a population around 12,000. Situated precisely across the lake from the Naramata Bench, the Summerland Bench, or "Bottleneck Drive" as it's been marketed as therefore shares some of The Naramata Benches characteristics. The largest difference being the amount of direct sunlight it receives earlier in the day receiving less during the later part of the 18 hour summer days.

The first major player in the new wine culture that arrived in the Okanagan the 80's was Sumac Ridge. Sumac Ridge was started by Harry McWatters, the 'God Father' of the Okanagan wine undustry. A local resident who worked at the now defunct Casabello Wines. Still in operation, Sumac Ridge is responsible for some wonderful sparkling wines as well as their other reds and whites.

Summerland is a very quiet community that harbours a large retirement population as well as a very artistic element with drama and musical groups prominent trhoughout the area. There are even a few internationally acclaimed musicians living in the region.

The town of Summerland wraps around an extinct volcano called Giants Head Mountain. The lava that was expelled from this and many other volcanoes around the valley covers the entire region and adds to the minerality of the wines.

The gentle slope of the multiple benches along Bottleneck Drive adds to the unique terroir of the area. Different than the Naramata Bench located directly East across Okanagan Lake 1-1/2 km away.

Summerland boasts around fifteen wineries ranging from organic whites, desert and fruit wines, ports, ciders, big bold reds, sparkling and ice wines so there's no lack of variety or quality. The majority of the wineries are farmgate or estate wineries producing very small lots but of superior quality.

Come along as Top Cat Tours visits some of the most recognized wine producers in the valley as well as some hidden gems that are hard to find. Lunch in the middle of the tour at the most popular restaurant in Summerland then back out for an afternnon of sampling with a refreshed palate.

Bring a camera and water and a healthy appreciation for geology and history as the Summerland wine experience swirls you into a world of corsets and bubbles!

South OkanaganTour

4 hours $125+HST Min:4 **ALL INCLUSIVE**

(Lunch included, all tasting fees included)


The South Okanagan! This includes the area known as 'The Golden Mile' (between Oliver and Osoyoos), the OK Falls area and everything in between.

This area is the hottest place in Canada with temperatures reaching over 35° C and has been known to reach 44° C or even higher. The area includes the communities of OK Falls, Oliver and Osoyoos which lies at the Southern most part of the valley, the U.S. border.

An 'invisible line' near OK Falls defines the border where the temperature changes 5-10° C from the neighbors in the North.

The majority of red grapes are grown in this area as the heat units are more comparible to the temperatures required by reds to reduce acidity and produce adequate sugars. Any whites grown here can exhibit tropical fruit notes compared to the stone fruits of the North. Evidence of floods and glaciers are obvious and help to produce a stony base of high drainage glacial till to further force the vines to produce intense flavors and sturdy vines as the plants hunt deep for water and nutrients.

The intense heat of the region means Pinot Noirs struggle to keep from shutting down and are therefore more atuned to the Northern coolness. This is the region for the Bordeaux grapes.

The area is also known for it's vegetable and fruit farms and orchards and many of them are otganic. This means that there are several world recognized winery retaurants serving some of the most cutting edge culinary techniques and trends.

Tours leaving from Penticton leave earlier than our other tours as there is a half hour traveling time from our base in Penticton to our Southern destination wineries. On the way down we chat about the amazing scenery outside the window as well as observe the changes in the landscape as we travel as this is what makes the South Okanagan terroir different than anywhere else in the valley, perhapd the world.

Book this tour early and note that there is a minimum of four participants needed to operate this tour.



Okanagan Falls Daily Tour

4 hours $90+HST **ALL INCLUSIVE**

(Lunch included, all tasting fees included)


With a dozen wineries populating the area surrounding the tiny hamlet of Okanagan Falls (OK Falls) at the South end of Skaha Lake, there's never a problem finding something interesting and unique.

This area is right on the border of the milder heat for whites and the torturing heat of the South OK region. Quite a few Pinot Noirs are grown here as well as a generous planting of all the varietals that grow in the Okanagan proper. This is indeed a unique terroir providing many various conditions on the surrounding mountain sides, glacial till and flood induced benches with fertile farmland at the valley floor. All of these various environments are used and are incredibly effective in giving the wines produced here a wide variety of flavours and aromas.

The majority of the benches are composed of rounded riverstone which aides in producing a nice minerality as well as making the plants work for that water which means a vibrant vine which rewards it's grower with some hard fought for flavours.

Top Cat Tours takes you from vistas high on the mountainsides to small 'treasures' hidden amongst the cliffs and valleys of the Area.

Book early to avoid disappointment!



Cross-Over Tour

Best of Both Benches

Aprox 5+ hours $95+GST **ALL INCLUSIVE**

(Lunch included, all tasting fees included)


Start your tour at 11 am and visit two wineries on Bottleneck Drive in Summerland then on to the Hooded Merganser Restaurant in Penticton where you'll enjoy a delicous lunch. Continue on after lunch to the Naramata Bench where you will visit three more wineries before returning to your accomodation around 4:30 pm.

Half Day Tours
Naramata or Summerland

3.5 hours aprox., $55+HST **ALL INCLUSIVE**

(No lunch stop, all tasting fees included)


Take our most popular tour areas, subtract the 1-2 hour lunch stop and the expense that goes with it and you have a perfect half day excursion with no muss, no fuss!

We start after lunch (1 pm) and spend the afternoon tasting at some of our favorite establishments!