Southwestern Style in the South Okanagan
If you’re anywhere else in Canada looking for something unique to do that, one, takes you away from the everyday norm and, two, reminds you of that sun vacation you used to have down south, then perhaps Oliver, Osoyoos, and the South Okanagan is the place to focus your radar on this summer.
The South Okanagan has a unique ecosystem that will surely make you forget about the daily grind back home and make you feel like you’re somewhere south of the border only you’re in Canada’s Wine Capital, a valley brimming with vineyards and wineries. It’s also home to some serious Mexican cuisine and the perfect place to ride a horse into the black sage hills.
Plus, there are lots of swimming options including lakes and segments of a beautiful river channel teeming with wildlife that you can float down to keep cool. At night, after an evening swim, you can nod off to a cricket lullaby.
If your answer is yes, read on! We’ve built an itinerary that will surely bring on those southwestern sun vacation vibes here in the South Okanagan.
Experience The Southwest At Red Horses Estate Winery
The warm terracotta and ochre walls and clay-tiled roof tops of this southwestern style winery reflect the natural beauty of the sun-kissed desert hills here in Oliver.
Two life-sized rust-red metal horses and a mariachi band silently greet and serenade you upon your arrival. This lovely winery was born of Rod and Pat Fortin’s love of the southwest, horses, and good wine. They co-own and operate the winery along with their son, Tim, and his wife, Eileen, as well as grandson’s Kelsey and Taylor.
Oliver, BC, with its semi-arid desert landscape and horses that roam freely in the surrounding black sage hills is the perfect place for such a winery.
A large pergola beckons you to sit down and relax underneath, and taste an oasis of delicious wines.
While you sip, you can take in the view of magnificent McIntyre Bluff and of the lush vineyards that will produce next year’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Or, if you prefer to be inside where it’s a cooler, you can taste right at the bar.
Red Horses Vineyard grows Cabernet Sauvignon however they source Merlot and Chardonnay varietals locally for their other wines.
Their wine list includes:
- 2019 (Unoaked) Chardonnay
- 2020 (Cab Sauv) Run Away Rosé
- 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
- 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
- 2018 Cross Breed Cab/Merlot Field Blend
- 2018 Merlot
- 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
I loved all of these wines and took home the 2018 Cross Breed Cab/Merlot Field Blend.
Red Horses Winery, located at 365 Zinfandel Avenue, Oliver, BC is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 11 am and 5 pm. They recommend that you book an appointment ahead of time. Visit their website, email, or call 250-498-5388 for more information.
Taste Authentic Mexican Cuisine!
Oliver is home to some amazing Mexican cuisine! You may ask, “Why Oliver?” Well, much of the reason is because we have a large population of Mexican migrant workers who come here each year for eight months to work in the orchards and vineyards.
Two restauranteurs featured in this itinerary saw the need for good authentic Mexican food. A third one, unfortunately had to close its doors during the pandemic. We sure hope they come back.
El Sabor de Marina Food Truck
People make the drive to from afar to experience Marina’s delicious food. For example, I know someone who does an annual cycling trip from Penticton, destination El Sabor de Marina for her mouth-watering Tamales, Tacos, Quesadillas, and Burritos.
When the day came this year, I ventured down to El Sabor de Marina with my camera in hand to witness their arrival! They had pre-ordered so the food for this hungry posse of eight was hot and ready all at the same time.
Taco Riendo, located at 6037 Main Street, is another popular Mexican spot. It’s owned and operated by Jany Lopez, originally from Mazatlan. She says, both Canadians and Mexicans come for her food and will sometimes even order two plates at a time. Now, that’s a good sign.
Chicken, beef, and pork burritos are among the most popular dishes followed by enchiladas and tacos.
You can also enjoy a refreshing lime margarita to complete your Mexican experience.
Go Trail Riding With Sun Hills Riding Centre
Experience the South Okanagan’s desert hills on horseback and take in the breathtaking views of Osoyoos lake down below.
Dave and Sherry who own and operate Sun Hills Riding Centre in Osoyoos offer a fun and educational trail riding experience. You’ll get to meet and learn the stories of all of the rescue horses including Walter, Cisco, Dakota, Roy, Reno, Jack, Mick, and Cooper who are all now living happy and peaceful lives in the South Okanagan.
Before Dave and Sherry saved them, most of the horses were experiencing neglect or facing dire situations including the slaughterhouse.
The horses’ welfare is of utmost importance to Dave and Sherry who believe that “handling and training horses gently will create a healthier, more willing, and trustworthy horse.”
All of their horses are horseshoe free. Instead of steel shoes, the horses are fitted with rubber hoof boots to protect their feet from the rocky terrain. The horses are also fitted with bitless bridles.
Dave and Sherry take out small groups of three to six riders for a more intimate and enjoyable experience for all.
Before you head out into the beautiful fragrant hills of black sage and antelope brush, you’ll have a practice session inside the riding arena. Here, you’ll learn how to handle and communicate with your horse.
My horse, Walter, was a lovely ride. At Sun Hills Riding Centre, he has been enjoying his retirement from the racetrack where he used to be a pacer. He won lots of races in his heyday and comes from a good blood line. His groom retired him so that he could enjoy his golden years “being a horse”. He loves a good forehead rub and eating sweet spring greens. He sure gobbled down his carrot treat quickly at the end of our ride!
Sun Hills Riding Centre, located at 3800 Golf Course Drive in Osoyoos offers trail rides, riding lessons, and clinics for horse-lovers. Visit their website, email or call (250) 408-9990 for more information.
Stay At Los Cinco Soles Vacation Suite
To top off your desert and south-western style itinerary, why not complete it by staying in a beautiful south-western style vacation suite?
Los Cinco Soles Vacation Suite sits nestled at the foot of a rocky desert backdrop. It’s a perfect comfy one-bedroom suite ideal for a couple who wants to relax and cook their own meals or for those who want to take advantage of Oliver’s many amazing wine and food offerings.
The suite is air conditioned and has a full kitchen including a gas stove, dishwasher, microwave, and full-sized fridge.
The bedroom features a comfy king-size bed. For an additional guest, the suite also comes with a well-padded double-sized futon.
Two bath towels and two facecloths per guest are provided. Two beach towels are also available to use at the lake.
Los Cinco Soles Vacation Suite is close to wineries, two award-winning golf courses including Fairview Mountain Golf Club and Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Club, world-class Area 27 Motorsports Park, hiking and biking trails, swimming at Tucelnuit Lake or our beautiful Okanagan River channel, and within walking distance to shopping and entertainment options.
Visit their AirBnB listing to book!
Get In Touch and Plan Ahead!
With Oliver and the South Okanagan being predicted the number one place to vacation in Canada this season, it’s best to plan ahead!
Get in touch with accommodation providers soon so you’re sure to have a place to stay. We look forward to seeing you here in Canada’s beautiful Wine Capital this season!
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