Okanagan Wine Tours: History of Fruit and Wine in the Valley

Okanagan Wine Tours: History of Fruit and Wine in the Valley

The Okanagan is significant for many things when it comes to growing fruit and viniculture. Not only is the area one of the first wine growing regions in British Columbia, it has seen a rise in popularity with new and exciting wineries popping up in areas where none existed before. See and taste for yourself when you check out some of the established and new wineries on Teehouse’s Okanagan Wine Tours, where you will learn the fascinating history of this fascinating fruit and wine-growing region.


The French Connection


In the mid-1800s, three priests from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, located near Marseilles, France, came to British Columbia with the task of opening a mission in the Okanagan Valley,

They eventually settled on a property next to what is now Mission Creek and established a school and church on the site. They also planted what would become the first fruit orchard in Okanagan.

One of the priests, Father Pandosy, also put in a vineyard to produce sacramental wine.


Scottish Royalty Bring the Fruit


You may be wondering what do the Scottish have to do with wine? Well not much really, but they had a lot to do with producing fruit here in the Okanagan.

In the late 1800s, the Earl of Aberdeen, Sir John Campbell Hamilton Gordon, and his wife Ishbel Marie Marjoribanks Hamilton-Gordon, better known as Lady Aberdeen, established fruit orchards at their properties in Kelowna and in Vernon, in what is now Guisachan and Coldstream Ranch.

While they didn’t grow grapes, they were the first to establish large commercial orchards, and become one of the largest producers of fruit in the British Empire.

Lord Aberdeen, who would later become the Governor General of Canada, even established a jam-making factory in Vernon before any other commercial operations, such as Kelowna wine tasting tours and other agri-tourism businesses, would crop up in the Valley.


Vines Start to Grow for Okanagan Wine Tours


In the mid-1920s, Kelowna’s first grape growing family, the Casorsos, established vineyards around the Rutland area and at what is now Casorso Road in Kelowna.

The Casorsos were influential in launching Kelowna’s Calona Vineyards, which opened in the early 1930s and is today the province’s oldest continuously operating winery. The vineyard, which Charles Casorco planted in 1925, still stands today and is run by his descendants as Sperling Vineyards.

Other wineries would eventually follow, including Mission Hill, popular on our West Kelowna wine tours, which opened in 1966, and Gray Monk Winery, part of our Lake Country wine tours, which was established in 1972.

For more information, read our wine article on What Grapes Grow Best for Kelowna Wine Tasting Tours.


Savour the tastes and sights of some of these wineries on Teehouse’s Okanagan wine tours and private wine tours in Kelowna. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride while we whisk you to some of the best wineries in the Okanagan so you can experience the ultimate wine tasting experience.

Don't Just Take Our Word For It

We take pride in ensuring you have the best Okanagan wine tour experience.

  •   Booked a wine tour with Teehouse Wine Tours and were not disappointed From the front door pickup and drop off, to the attentive service of our driver we were very thrilled with the entire experience. Everything right down to lunch was scheduled for us and...More

    thumb Matthew K

      We stayed at the Teehouse and also was fortunate to be taken on a wine tour, we were treated like royalty and given the best experience one could have asked for. The tour guide, Arthur was professional and very accommodating. His wife Lynda was an...More

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      Arthur was a great guide!He answered all of our questions, in addition to sharing facts we hadn't even thought to ask.The selection of 5 wineries we were taken to had such a fantastic range - from small and organic, to established but pioneering, all the...More

    thumb Terri J
  •   My partner and I had a great time. Arthur was engaging and has built a strong relationship with the wineries we visited. We had some time left in our day and he was able to get us an extra visit to a winery which was...More

    thumb FarAway220386

      We only booked this tour at the last minute upon arriving in Kelowna late one day.And we were so fortunate to spend the one day we had in the area with Arthur on this tour. We visited five very different and all very enjoyable wineries...More

    thumb patlynscott

      Arthur was the most amazing tour guide. He was knowledgeable and extremely courteous and a great sense of humour. Visited 5 wineries which were all fantastic! The choice for our lunch stop was amazing. Would highly recommend Teehouse Wine Tours. Cheers!

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  •   Our tour was excellent! We did a privet tour with family, friends and our son. I only have great things to say about this tour stating with the cleanliness of the van, our friendly very patient guide Arthur. He was great! We all were presently...More

    thumb lmartinez21

      Arthur was amazing. The wine tour was perfectly organized,we treated us as special guests. Very recommended!!

    thumb Nervesi87

      Arthur took a group of 11 of us for a wine tour starting at 10:30am. He was so accommodating and great! He also provided us with snacks and water in between the wineries. He was very knowledgeable and so friendly!

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