On the Canada Day long weekend I headed to Summerland in British Columbia’s Okanagan region to combine two things that the area is known for: wineries and biking. It’s a great way to spend a summer afternoon. You work up a bit of a sweat biking uphill, cool off in the shade at a winery while tasting delicious wines, then cruise through rolling terrain with orchards and vineyards on both sides. When you need a break, pull over at a cidery or another winery and enjoy the views down to the lake… and repeat, as many times as you like! It’s sublime. If you also want to explore Summerland’s wineries by bike, I’ve put together a self-guided cycling tour that visits three organic wineries and two cideries on a 25km ride. (And if biking isn’t your thing, this route makes for a great scenic drive as well.)
Hey there: This is NOT a sponsored post. I visited Summerland on my own time and spent my own money. I just had a really good time and wanted to share it with you. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting my website! -Taryn
Summerland Winery Basics
The entire Okanagan valley is full of great wineries. There are so many to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start.
I love the Summerland area as it avoids the hype and crowds in favour of a more intimate experience at small family run wineries. Many of the vineyards are organic and produce niche or specialty wines you won’t find anywhere else. In the last few years a few cideries have also opened up, returning the region to its apple orchard roots. Currently there are 19 wineries, 3 cideries and one brewery in Summerland, all easy to find thanks to the city’s Bottleneck Drive signage. The region is easy to explore by car, but I think you’ll enjoy it more on a bike.
You can easily visit Summerland on a day trip if you are staying in Kelowna or Penticton, but it’s much easier base yourself in Summerland. I stayed with friends, but they recommend the Summerland Waterfront Resort if you’re looking for a hotel in the area. There are also tons of cute cabins in vineyards, as well as motels and bed and breakfasts. (Check out my list of the cutest cozy cabins in BC, including a few in the Okanagan.)
Biking in Summerland
In addition to wine, Summerland and the Okanagan region have also become a destination for cycling thanks to the Grand Fondo Alex Merckx. You don’t have to be a spandex-clad semi-pro to enjoy biking here – the quiet backroads are perfect for casual cyclists too. Exploring Summerland’s wineries by bike instead of by car lets you slow down a little bit, hear the bees, smell the flowers and really experience the rural life. Plus you won’t feel as bad about drinking all that alcohol knowing you got a bit of exercise first!
When to Go
The wineries and cideries are open from 11am until 5pm from May until September. They have more limited hours in the winter (and the weather isn’t as nice) so summer afternoons are the best time to visit Summerland’s wineries by bike.
What to bring
The wineries aren’t formal: dress in whatever you find comfortable for biking. It’s very sunny and hot in the Okanagan so don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses and a bottle of water. Cycling makes you hungry so be sure to pack some snacks or a lunch. Most of the wineries and cideries have shaded patios where you can eat your own food. Lunessence Winery also has snacks for purchase.
Bring some cash or cards to buy wine and cider. A few places charge a tasting fee (usually $2-$5) but they will always waive it if someone in your group buys a bottle or two. You may also want to bring a backpack or pannier so you can carry your purchases with you. We knew we would buying a lot, so we asked each winery or cidery to set aside our purchases, then returned later with our car to pick them up.
Bike Riding Tips
The roads around Summerland are very quiet and safe. They are all paved, although there are a few potholes. The locals are used to cyclists and will usually give you lots of room. There are several signed cycling routes, some of which have separated bike lanes.
Be courteous to drivers by riding single file, using hand signals when turning and taking breaks off the pavement. By law, you must wear a bike helmet in British Columbia. There’s a $100 fine if you don’t.
Self-Guided Summerland Winery Bike Tour
There are 19 wineries and 3 cideries in Summerland… too many to visit in one day. I’ve put together a loop bike route that hits the highlights: three organic wineries, two cideries and a few photo stops and a ride along the lakeshore. It also avoids unnecessary hills, long detours out of the way and all highway riding. If you’re super ambitious I’ve also included 4 optional side trips to additional wineries.
The route is good for most cyclists who can handle a few hills. (It’s ok if you walk up the steep bits!) If you want a shorter and easier route, I’ve also designed an alternate route. It cuts off 6km of distance and all of the big hills but does miss one of the cideries. Follow the blue loop on the map below for the main route and use the green shortcut line to take the alternate route.
Main Route: 25km/15.5mi loop with 200m/650ft of elevation change. Allow 3.5-5.5 hours including stops. Best for most cyclists. Starts and finishes at Peach Orchard Park.
Alternate Route: 19km/12mi loop with 50m/160ft of elevation change. Allow 3-4.5hours including stops. Best for cyclists who want a shorter route with less hills. Starts and finishes at the intersection of Prairie Valley Road and Rosedale Avenue.
- Peach Orchard Park
- Summergate Winery
- Saxon Estate Winery
- Dominion Cider Co.
- Bush Art Gardens
- Trout Creek Trestle
- Lunessence Winery
- Summerland Heritage Cider
PARKING: For the MAIN ROUTE, start at Peach Orchard Park on Lakeshore Drive. There is lots of parking here but be sure to arrive early on summer weekends. If you can’t find a spot, try the lots at Gordon Beggs Beach a little further south on Lakeshore Drive. You can also park on the street along Lakeshore drive in front of the Summerland Waterfront Resort. For the ALTERNATE ROUTE, skip ahead to 2.5km.
0KM: RIDE NORTH on Lakeshore Drive from Peach Orchard Park.
0.2km: TURN LEFT on Peach Orchard Road. Ride up the hill. This is the hardest climb of the whole trip but there is a wide shoulder and bike lane for the entire hill.
1.8km: GO UNDER the highway on Peach Orchard.
2.1km: GO LEFT on Rosedale Avenue at the roundabout.
2.5km: GO STRAIGHT at the second roundabout to join Prairie Valley Road. If you are following the shorter alternate route, this is where you start your ride.
3km: Go STRAIGHT on Prairie Valley road as it goes around another roundabout. As you leave the houses and transition into farmland, the road starts to climb uphill. Watch for the plume of the Kettle Valley steam train down below.
5.2km: TURN RIGHT on Morrow Avenue
5.3km: TURN LEFT into Summergate Winery.
Summergate Winery is a small estate winery focusing on sweeter white wines. Like a few other small wineries around Summerland, they are an organic winery that doesn’t use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. I really enjoyed their 2017 Kerner. It has unique tropical notes that just taste like summer.
5.3km: TURN RIGHT to leave Summergate and retrace your route on Morrow.
5.4km: TURN RIGHT on Prairie Valley.
5.9km: TURN LEFT onto Rutherford Avenue.
6.3km: TURN LEFT onto Dale Meadows Road.
7.6km: TURN RIGHT onto Lumsden Avenue.
7.8km: TURN LEFT into Saxon Estate Winery.
Saxon Estate Winery
Like Summergate, Saxon Estate Winery is also an organic winery. They are a small family run winery and specialize in the obscure Leon Millot Rouge grape, used in their signature reds. We really enjoyed their Drunken Knight, a strangely sparkling port created through several happy accidents of winemaking.
TURN LEFT onto the path through the grass beside the Winery. Walk your bike 100m to Dominion Cider Co.
Dominion Cider Co.
Historically Summerland was known for their orchards, but many were converted to wineries in the last few decades. Thankfully the trend seems to be reversing a little bit with new cideries like Dominion Cider Co. opening up to brew delicious cider from the local apples and pears. Dominion is housed in the cutest little quonset hut. I really enjoyed their ginger cider, created in collaboration with Dickie’s Ginger Beer of Vancouver.
8km: FOLLOW THE DRIVEWAY out on to Gould Road.
8.1km: TURN LEFT on Gould Road.
8.15km: TURN RIGHT on to Dale Meadows Road.
9.1km: TURN RIGHT on to Victoria Road. Follow Victoria Road down the hill.
11.8km: TURN RIGHT on Monro Street. Ride down on Munro, crossing the railway tracks. (Optional side trip: Stop at Estate Thurn at 12.4km, a craft winery that also makes their own vinegar.)
12.9km: TURN LEFT on Canyon View Road and descend steeply with a couple of sharp corners. There are good views from up here!
13.7km: ARRIVE AT Bush Art Gardens. It’s on your left.
Bush Art Gardens
While Bush Art Gardens is no longer fully operational, it’s still worth a stop. It’s a unique outdoor gallery of art re-purposed from junk and found objects. Be sure to check out the vintage car planters. The owners have retired and aren’t creating new art but they do have a few things for sale on the honour system inside the little shack. (Be sure to check out the inside – it’s actually a really cute 50s travel trailer.)
14.1km TURN RIGHT into the Trout Creek Trestle Parking lot. Walk your bike out along the pathway, on to the Trout Creek Trestle.
Trout Creek Trestle
The Trout Creek trestle stands 240 feet/73 meters above the steep-sided canyon. There are pedestrian walkways on either side of the tracks so be sure to walk across to enjoy the views. It is part of the historical Kettle Valley Railway, built between 1910 and 1915. The KVR originally ran from Hope to Midway in the Kootenays. It fell into disuse in the 1960s and totally closed in the 1980s. Today much of the former KVR rail bed has been converted into a hiking and biking path. However, the short section near Summerland hosts the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, a heritage train for tourists.
14.1km: TURN RIGHT out of the parking lot and continue on Canyon View Road after you visit the trestle. (Optional side trip: Stop at Summerland Sweets at 14.2km. This popular spot is known for their jams and syrups, made from local fruit. They also have ice cream, so plan to stop here on hot days. You can also sample the fruit wines from their sister business, the Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery.)
14.4km: TURN RIGHT on Hillborn Street.
14.7km: STAY LEFT as Hillborn curves and becomes Happy Valley Road.
15.4km: TURN LEFT at Gartrell road and head steeply uphill.
15.5km: TURN RIGHT to arrive at Lunessence Winery.
Lunessence Winery goes a step further than organic: they practice biodynamic viticulture. This means that they see the vineyard as holistic entity and take into account the soil, climate, and lunar cycles, as well as the health of the vines. (That’s why they are called “lunessence”, from “lunar”). They also play classical music for their grapes as they grow and for their wine barrels as they age since they believe it exposes the wine to positive emotions. You might think this all sounds amazing OR that it sounds like hippy BS, but either way, their wine is pretty good. The view from their terrace is also spectacular. You can purchase cheese plates and other snacks to enjoy while you admire the view, or bring your own.
ALTERNATE ROUTE: If you want to take the shorter alternate route, after Lunessence head turn right and go uphill on Gartrell for one block, then turn right on Giant’s Head Road (at 15.8km). Follow Giant’s Head road back to Prairie Valley road. Turn left on Prairie Valley (at 18.7km) and go one block to your starting point.
Directions for the Main Route continue below.
15.5km: TURN LEFT from Lunessence onto Gartrell. Follow Gartrell as it descends steeply, with a few exciting hairpin corners. (Optional side trip: Stop at Silkscarf Winery (16km) or Giants Head Estate Winery (16.3km). You’ll pass them near the top of the hill.)
17.4km: GO STRAIGHT at the bottom of the hill Gartrell becomes Fir Avenue.
17.6km: CURVE LEFT as Fir becomes Johnson street.
17.8km: TURN RIGHT at Summerland Heritage Cider.
Summerland Heritage Cider
Summerland Heritage Cider is a craft cidery surrounded by apple orchards. Most of their ciders are made from specialized cider apples that aren’t great for eating since they have lots of tannins. This gives their ciders a distinct dry flavour. They also have a rotating seasonal cider. This summer they made a Gose-style cider that has hints of lime and salt – I think it’s the margarita of cider. It sounds weird, but trust me it’s fabulous. We loved it so much that we returned in the car to buy a case to take home with us.
17.8km: TURN RIGHT on Johnson.
18.3km: GO STRAIGHT on Johnson across the highway at the traffic light.
18.7km: TURN LEFT on Nixon Road.
19.4km: TURN RIGHT on Kirk Ave.
19.5km: TURN LEFT on Thorber Street.
19.9km: TURN RIGHT on to Landry Crescent.
21km: TURN RIGHT towards the entrance to the RV Park.
21.05km: TURN LEFT on to the separated bike path, next to the highway.
22.2km: GO STRAIGHT on Lakeshore Drive after the bike path ends.
23.3km: TURN RIGHT to stay on Lakeshore Drive. Pass by the Summerland Waterfront Resort (23.5km) and Gordon Beggs Beach (23.9km).
24.5km: TURN RIGHT to go back into the parking lot at Peach Orchard Park.
I hope you enjoyed your exploring Summerland’s wineries by bike as much as I did. Let me know which wines and ciders were your favourite in the comments.