9 spring and summer B.C. wine events you don’t want to miss

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Get ready for an action-packed summer in wine country. Here are just a few events to add to your calendar.

Okanagan Spring Wine Festival

Okanagan Spring Wine Festival runs May 3-12 throughout the Okanagan Valley. Photo courtesy Okanagan Wine Festivals

So many events; so little time. Grab your tasting glass and check out all the dinners, lunches, classes, wine-pairing events, even wine-enhanced golf, yoga and an escape room, throughout the Okanagan Valley. Don’t miss the Spring WestJet Wine Tastings, featuring more than 250 B.C. wines, May 3 and 4, and the Iron Sommelier British Columbia competition on May 10.

When:May 3 to 12

BC Tasting Games Finale

Master of Wine Rhys Pender hosts this lively blind-tasting competition with a side of audience participation. At each of the three divisional events (April 23, May 7, May 14), three celebrated wine experts blind taste five wines and try to guess what they are—while the audience does the same. The winners and the top-scoring audience members go on to compete in the finale. Tickets include a wine-tasting flight, small bites and a whole lot of fun.

When:May 21

Top Drop Vancouver

Handcrafted, terroir-driven wines (as well as craft beer and cider) are the focus of this two-day celebration of delicious sustainability. Thursday night, it’s all about food and wine at restaurants like Wildebeest, Mamie Taylor’s and Bodega on Main; on Friday, it’s the grand tasting at the Yaletown Roundhouse.

When:May 23 to 24

Half Corked Marathon Weekend

Photo by Darren Robinson

On your marks, get set . . . sip! Costumed runners scamper through the vineyards around Oliver, stopping here and there for a taste of wine. But this fun run—named the Canadian Tourism Awards’ Canadian Event of the Year in 2017—is so much more than that. There’s the carb-loading Primavera pasta dinner beforehand and, afterward, the Party! at the Finish Line, a fun afternoon of entertainment, food, wine, friends and family. Race tickets are only available by lottery, which is now closed, but you can still enjoy the finish line festivities.

When: May 24 to 26

Chef Meets BC Grape—Taste of the Okanagan

This festival-style outdoor extravaganza at historic See Ya Later Ranch in Okanagan Falls has become one of the highlights of summer in wine country. It features tastings from 45 B.C. wineries, as well as wine masterclasses, chef demonstrations, wine and food pairings, and a variety of food stations with dishes prepared by the country’s top chefs.

When: June 8

Grand Sommelier Express

Kettle Valley Heritage Steam Train. Photo by Darren Hull

All aboard this heritage steam train as it whisks you through Summerland to the Kettle Valley Rail station for a party featuring live music and gourmet food paired with local wines, cider, beer and spirits. While on board you’ll enjoy breathtaking scenery and wine with local vintners, all in an atmosphere of old-world elegance.

When: June 22

Feast of Fields

This wandering gourmet harvest festival highlights the connections between farmers and chefs, field and table, farm folks and city folks. With wine glass and linen napkin in hand, guests wander through the grounds at Kelowna’s Caldwell Heritage Farm, tasting gourmet creations from B.C.’s top chefs, farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans, vintners, brewers and distillers.

When: August 11

Naramata Bench Wineries Association Tailgate Party

Pop the corks and celebrate the harvest with this fun annual event at the Naramata Heritage Inn. There will be food, wine, live music and all your wine-loving friends—there’s simply no better way to spend a fall weekend in wine country.

When: September 14

Freak’n Farmer

Photo via Freak’n Farmer

Anyone who’s ever worked on a farm knows that it’s not a job for the faint of heart. This annual event at Covert Farms near Oliver adapts those traditional farmhand tasks to a tough obstacle-course-style competition that has to be seen to be believed.

When: September 22