Feed and water your B.C. staycation this autumn with sustenance stops at great winery eateries.
By Gail Johnson
With vineyards dotting the map from the Gulf Islands all the way to the Purcell Mountains, wine touring is a wonderful way to explore B.C. Several wineries have exceptional restaurants right on-site, making this kind of local discovery all the more tantalizing. Verify safe-dining policies and changes to operations via restaurant websites and on-premise signage.
RED FOX CLUB AT INDIGENOUS WORLD WINERY, WEST KELOWNA
Long before grapes ever started growing in B.C., there were Indigenous people caring for and living off the land. The Syilx people call the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys home, and Indigenous World Winery offers a taste of First Nations culture. At its on-site restaurant, the Red Fox Club, traditional ingredients star in modern dishes. Seared trout with salsa verde and wilted greens, grilled-elk flank stir-fry, puffed wild rice with sticky maple-glazed pork belly bites and bison tenderloin carpaccio adorned with pickled Saskatoon berries are examples of food from the land with colourful, contemporary flare. redfoxclub.ca
THE BISTRO AT NORTHERN LIGHTS ESTATE WINERY, PRINCE GEORGE
B.C.’s most Northern winery specializes in wines made of fruits grown on-site, such as haskap, gooseberry, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, apple, rhubarb and more. Its restaurant rests on the banks of the Nechako River, on territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. Mezze platters, cheese and charcuterie boards, and naan flatbread pizza are ideal for sharing with people in your bubble. Brunch is a draw too, with dishes like peach- and pecan-French toast and Neptune eggs Benny with crab and roasted asparagus among the highlights. northernlightswinery.ca/bistro
THE KITCHEN AT FORT BERENS ESTATE WINERY, LILLOOET
What do Lillooet and the Okanagan have in common? Hot, long, and dry summers that yield fantastic wine. The ancestral territory of the St’át’imc First Nations, located at the southern tip of the Cariboo Chilcotin, Lillooet is home to Fort Berens Estate Winery. With sweeping views of the vineyards and the Coast Mountains, the Kitchen features internationally-inspired dishes showcasing ingredients from nearby farms: Spray Creek Ranch chicken cacciatore and Moroccan-spiced Three Raven Farmstead lamb wrapped in phyllo pastry, for example. Hyperlocal fruit and vegetables are often handpicked the same day they appear on the field-to-fork menu. fortberens.ca/The-Kitchen-at-Fort-Berens
UNSWORTH RESTAURANT AT UNSWORTH VINEYARDS, COWICHAN VALLEY
Newly designated by the provincial government as a sub-geographical indication of B.C.’s wine regions, the bucolic Cowichan Valley (derived from the Coast Salish term Quw’utsun’ or “land warmed by the sun”) has come into its own as a premier grape-growing part of Vancouver Island. Unsworth Restaurant, set in a restored early 1900s farmhouse, has several charming small rooms and a patio that overlooks the winery’s 12 acres, a walnut and apple orchard and a vegetable garden. The menu changes with the season–from the pizza and pasta to the cheesecake and gelato selections–but always features fresh, local, sustainable ingredients. unsworthvineyards.com/unsworth-restaurant
THE PATIO RESTAURANT AT NK’MIP CELLARS, OSOYOOS
The terrace adjoining Nk’Mip Cellars, North America’s first indigenous winery, is a special place. Surrounded by First Nations culture and history, the view is sloping vineyards, with Osoyoos Lake as the picture-perfect backdrop. Steps away is the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, where you can learn about the Syilx people and their connection to the Earth. That interconnectedness carries over to the restaurant, which focuses on Indigenous-inspired farm-to-table innovations like salmon-and-fry-bread crisps, lentil-and-cauliflower tacos and sponge toffee with Saskatoon-berry gelato. Pair with a glass of Nk-Mip’s Qwam Qwmt (meaning “achieving excellence”) wines, estate bottlings produced in limited quantities. nkmipcellars.com/The-Winery