From its renowned wineries and orchards to its local farmers’ markets teeming with activity, Kelowna in Canada’s British Columbia province is a city that knows cuisine like no other. This beautiful gem which lies at the heart of the Okanagan Valley started out as a stopover point during the Gold Rush, and evolved to an orchard and farm town. Now a vibrant destination that models the best of urban and rural setups, Kelowna is a tourist destination known for its breathtaking vineyard vistas and wonderful restaurants which serve everything from French to Indian cuisine.
The Okanagan Valley was first inhabited by the Okanagan people over 6000 years ago. According to legend, the original inhabitants ran into a settler who they called Brown Bear. This story passed down the ages and when the time came, in 1905, to name the settlement, Kelowna, meaning “grizzly bear” was chosen. The valley became a regular route for fur traders in the early 1800s. The city sits on the shores of Okanagan Lake and is surrounded by three mountain ranges.
The first European settlement in the Kelowna area was in 1859 with the arrival of Father Charles Pandosy. He is credited with setting up the Okanagan Mission School and Church. It is his interest in farming, however, that made his mission famous for crops and animals. He planted the first vineyards in the region to produce sacramental wine. This opened the door for other farmers to plant their own vineyards.
Wine and dine
Kelowna is considered the home of winemaking in British Columbia. Its over 40 wineries produce top-ranking wines, some of which have won international and national awards. The area is especially known for the Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties. Tourists flock the region during summer for a chance to tour the panoramic vineyards where these delicate wines are crafted.
Kelowna has, in the recent past, experienced a collaborative explosion between chefs and farmers. The concept dubbed ‘farm-to-table’ has grown as a response to a crop of farmers who are committed to growing high quality produce. Some of the best restaurants in Kelowna BC are buying into the idea of buying local with partnerships from meat and poultry farmers to wine, artisanal cheese makers and even bakers. Visitors can even take a farm-to-table tour that allows them to see how local chefs convert fresh products into exquisite meals.
Kelowna’s markets are home to its fresh, local fruits. Year round, visitors find baskets overflowing with juicy cherries, apples and grapes. Alongside fruits and vegetables, the market showcases locally made jams, honey, artisan bread and strudels and more. This makes Kelowna a top destination for any fresh food-loving foodie.
The culinary scene in Kelowna is a strikingly vibrant one. Every year, Kelowna hosts one of the biggest culinary events in Canada – The Canadian Culinary Championships. The event gathers Canada’s finest chefs to showcase their skills and artistry for a shot at the Gold Plates Championship. Kelowna also holds a food truck rally where attendees can make friends over a range of offerings from continental to Indian cuisine. This is besides Kelowna’s frequent wine trails that give visitors a taste of BC’s leading wines.
Ready to experience the brilliance of Kelowna?
Growing from a Gold Rush town to one of Canada’s top culinary destinations, Kelowna has something to offer for everyone. Couples may appreciate its romantic vineyard excursions; children will appreciate the endless landscape and beaches, whereas friends may choose to unravel the numerous festivals and activities the city hosts. Whatever the case, the tight connection between farmers and chefs make Kelowna’s food culture more special than most. If you are ready to experience the dining and wining scene in Kelowna, why not start with a visit to our restaurant today?