The seemingly endless fields of wine grapes that stretch beyond the shores of Osoyoos Lake in B.C. are my new stomping grounds. I’m touring them on a zippy, $2,800 electric bicycle so brightly orange, I have to shield my eyes with my arm upon exiting each of the wineries on Heatstroke Cycle & Sport’s Gold Mile Wine Country Tour.
With respect to pedal purists, there’s no better way to explore the Osoyoos region—less than a two-hour drive from Kelowna—than by touring its vineyards on a 48-volt, bright-orange Pedego bike that will hit speeds up to 32 kilometres per hour.
“I will not yield to a boring, flabby wine,” I pronounce to no one in particular as we exit the Inniskillin winery, having acquired a taste for vineyard vernacular. Throwing my right leg over my too-high bicycle seat, I twinge my back. “Onward, for tonight, we ride! Ow.”
Actually, our group of six is riding in early afternoon, descending on vineyards like a swarm of orange bees. Emboldened by many fine wines, we invoke the spirit of rampaging Vikings, albeit wearing fanny packs and ringing our bike bells.
The four-hour, 12-km cycling tour between the towns of Osoyoos and Oliver includes seven wineries and provides sweeping views of lakes and orchards. The biking takes you outside in the fresh air, while the tour gets you inside the fragrant wineries.
At the Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery, one member of our group, Jayme Moye of Boulder, Colo., ambles up to the tasting bar in a white knit cap and appropriately purple outerwear. “Pick a defining wine,” she says to the gentleman doing the pouring, who then explains that it all depends on what we are eating.
“We are eating nothing,” Jayme says.
That pretty much sums it up. We are eating nothing, we are taking no prisoners, we want it all and we want it now. It’s
bacchanalia on bikes, a wine-lover’s adventure—and partway into it, I realize it may kill me.
Perhaps a meal is a good idea after all.
At Covert Farms, with its own winery and fresh field tomatoes, sweet onions and muskmelons, we sit at a scarred wooden table, digging into charcuterie and fruit plates. It’s like we’ve died and gone to farm-to-fork heaven.
Soon, we push on, riding between sips, to wineries including Cassini Cellars, Rustico Farm & Cellars and Church & State Wines, among others. The whoosh of air fills my ears as wine sloshes in my belly.
In the town of Oliver, the self-proclaimed Wine Capital of Canada, we roll into the Hester Creek Estate Winery. Luke Whittall, the wine shop supervisor, says, as he pours: “I’m not one of those guys who tells you that you’ll taste blueberries and dirt and penguin.” He warns my note-taking will get less meticulous as the tour continues. What he said next … I can’t decipher.
At the end of the day, I retire to my suite at Osoyoos’s Watermark Beach Resort. I’ve somehow survived. Sipping a final glass of vino on the balcony, I settle like the sun into a wine-haloed haze, and the rest of the day drains away.
British Columbia’s Best Wine Regions (and Where to Sip)
The Okanagan Valley is emerging as one of the world’s most exciting wine regions, thanks to its range of climates and terroirs. Meanwhile, the Thompson Valley’s Kamloops area is on the rise. Sip aromatic whites at the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival (Sept. 28 to Oct. 8) or Pinot Noir at Privato Vineyard & Winery in Kamloops.