By Andrew Penner
After tapping in a three-footer for par and shooting the course record of 62 (unfortunately, I still had five more holes to play), my mind started drifting off to my plans for the remainder of the day. (It’s possible that my wife might refer to this as my “problem focusing on a task” issue.) At any rate, in terms of my “distraction”, I feel it was justified. After all, after my chippin’, my plan was to do some sippin’. At a couple of Kamloops’ award-winning wineries, of course.
Ah yes, golf and whine. I mean, golf and wine. (Either way, they go together.) However, in Kamloops – thanks to the amazing eight-course collective plus four fantastic wineries – we can absolutely leave out the “h.”
To be fair, there are actually a lot of things that pair well together in Kamloops. Bikes and patios. Beaches and beer. Live music and libations. You get the idea. Just put two of your favourite things together and – presto! – you’ve got a match made in heaven, right?
For the record, golfing and “wineing” are two of my personal faves. And they certainly are a dynamite duo in Kamloops. I found this out first-hand on my last trip there in the summer of 2022. And in 2023, provided I can focus long enough to pick some dates, I’m planning to do it all over again.
And why do they pair so well together in Kamloops, you ask? Simple. It’s all about the fun factor. Unlike some other destinations that are pretentious and take themselves a little too seriously, in Kamloops it’s all about letting your hair down, relaxing, and just having a good time. That works for me. The quality? The lack of crowds? Yes, this is also appealing.
True, the incredible golf courses in Kamloops don’t exactly fall under the radar. Tobiano, for example, which many people would call the flagship course in the area, is an unforgettable adventure atop airy bluffs above Kamloops Lake. The views are sublime; jaw-dropping on every hole. And the dramatic golf holes that tumble and roll on these beautiful landforms have won the hearts of many.
Not surprisingly, there are many more notable courses in the portfolio. Talking Rock, routed near – and along! – the shores of Little Shuswap Lake, and Rivershore, a storied Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that features a beautiful finish along the South Thompson River, are two more of my personal favourites.
And, just like the golf scene, the wine scene in Kamloops is a fun-loving affair that offers something for everyone. The four wineries – Monte Creek, Privato, Harper’s Trail, and Sagewood – all have plenty of character and a laid-back, come-as-you-are (I showed up with a ketchup stain on my golf shirt) mantra prevails.
When it comes to the actual wine, know this: the bar, just as it is with the golf, is high! These are family-owned wineries that are run by passionate, hard-working vintners who are committed to exceptional quality. The northern latitude and the high-mineral-content soil have allowed them to push boundaries and create very special wines in an extraordinary setting.
Although numerous varietals are represented in the region (there are 125 acres under vine), Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay are dominant grapes.
Due to its close proximity to The Dunes (the beautiful riverside course where I shot the course record…plus 25), my first stop was Privato. With its idyllic valley setting, beautiful wine garden, super-friendly staff, easygoing vibe, and exquisite wines (their Pinot Noirs are consistently recognized as some of the best in Canada), I quickly realized this was the type of place that I could linger for a long time. So I did.
The next day, after a morning round at Eaglepoint (yes, the ideal strategy is to “chip” in the morning and “sip” in the afternoon), I moseyed over to Monte Creek. Sitting high on the hill with a commanding view over the valley and the vineyards, this beautiful boutique winery is the largest in Kamloops. Not surprisingly, due to its sun-soaked patio, premium wines, and gorgeous location, I, yet again, stayed way longer than I initially planned.
So apparently, my “focusing on a task” issue isn’t really an issue at a winery. Swirl, sip, repeat. Simple. I can do it at length. This should bode well when I visit the remaining two wineries – Harper’s Trail and Sagewood – on my next visit.