This Mission Hill Winery offers one of the Best Ever Wine Tasting Experiences in Kelowna. When thinking of visiting Kelowna Wineries, none are more prestigious than the world-renowned Mission Hill Family Estate. It is the only winery in Canada to win Winery of the Year a staggering five times and has received too many best varietal awards, both in-country and on the international stage, to count!

Perched atop Boucherie Ridge, with swoon-worthy views of the rolling vineyard-clad hills and the legendary Okanagan Lake, the landscape could not be more picturesque. But it doesn’t stop there; the architecture of this one-of-a-kind place is like no other winery out there.

Welcome to this prestigious Kelowna winery:
Mission Hill Family Estate

Mission Hill Keystone Architecture

Mission Hill: Millions of Years of Geology and Four Decades of Wine Pioneering

As well as being breathtakingly beautiful, the conditions in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley are truly unique in the wine-growing world. Glacial and volcanic soils, bountiful microclimates, and favorable weather conditions mean that a whole host of distinctive and unique wine flavors can be developed here that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.

The Okanagan Valley is inseparable from its rich geological history. Many centuries ago, glaciers carved this beautiful landscape – and millions of years before that, the valley was the domain of the great extinct stratovolcano now called Mount Boucherie.

What they left behind was a jaw-dropping landscape of mountains, lakes, and – most importantly for Mission Hill Family Estate – ancient and diverse soils, clays, gravels, and glacial tills teeming with nutrients and vitality.

The soil here is one of the things that sets Okanagan wines apart from their competition, giving the vintages a unique terroir (meaning taste qualities, for those new to the wine scene.) What’s more, the soil profile even changes several times dramatically within the valley itself, depending on where the vines are planted.

Combine this with a latitudinal location that blesses the valley with some of the highest sunlight exposure rates in the world, a rolling variety of temperatures throughout the year, and, of course, heaps of love from the local viticulturists, and you have the recipe for a staggering variety of vintages that taste unlike anything else in the world.

Mission Hill Anthony Von Mandl

Before its discovery as a bountiful wine country in the early 1980s, Okanagan Valley was famous for other delicious fruits. But thanks to the risk-taking and toil of early wine pointers like the Mission Hill Family, the potential of the valley’s innumerable microclimates and soil profile varieties was finally harnessed to its full capability. The Mission Hill Family has been on the scene since 1981, and their vision for the future has seen Okanagan wine burst onto the international stage.

The Mission Hill Family and their team of experts working under founder Anthony Von Mandl have a deep respect for the history of this special place, and that can be seen in their organic winemaking processes, the architecture of the Estate itself – and especially tasted in the result.

The Architectural Wonderland of Mission Hill Family Estate

Mission Hill Bell Tower

Founder Anthony Von Mandl has said his aim for Mission Hill Family Estate was to create ‘A sense of place. Somewhere you can step out of the everyday world and into a sanctuary that’s all about the timelessness of wine.’

The roaring success of Von Mandl’s vision is apparent from the second you set foot on the grounds. The architecture here is part monastery, part ancient Greek or Roman triumph, and 100% awe-inspiring. Earth and clay tones soothe the soul, while theatres, halls, courtyards, and loggia pay homage to the journey of mankind through the ages. The winding halls and passages connecting the tasting and brewing rooms give a sense of dislocation and escape.

Stunning sculptures scattered throughout the grounds were created by Icelandic artist, Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir as part of an “Encounters with Iceland” exhibition launched in 2014 and are aging wonderfully, just like wine.

Mission Hill Sculptures

Highlights include: the keystone entrance bearing the Von Mandl family crest, which was hand-carved from a single five-ton mass of Indiana Limestone by Master Stone Masons; an ancient Roman-style open-air amphitheater with the capacity to seat 1,200 guests; a humidity-controlled 800 barrel-capacity cellar blasted into volcanic rock and lit by the light of a single oculus window; and a magnificent 12-story bell tower that watches over the Estate.

Mission Hill Underground Barrel Cellars

Photo credit: Mission Hill Family Estate

The tower is even complete with genuine bronze bells cast by the Paccard Bell Foundry in France, famed for their craft since 1796 – their half-hourly ringing is the only thing that reminds you of the passage of time in these hallowed walls.

Mission Hill Bell

And yet, Mission Hill Family Estate is never guilty of simply looking to the past. One eye is always set firmly on the future. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their harnessing of ground-breaking technology in conjunction with time-honored traditional winemaking techniques, as you will discover in the next section.

Mission Hill Winery, Where Past and Near-Future Collide

One of the most impressive things about Mission Hill is their ability to harness the best techniques of traditional winemaking, as well as embracing new technologies at every turn.

In the wine aging rooms, a variety of oak barrels sit next to ancient Greek-style clay amphoras and futuristic concrete egg contraptions. In the skies, drones buzz, monitoring the vineyard’s health from above, while state-of-the-art Geier machines carry out high-density farming.

The same is true for the Mission Hill Family wine experts, where 4th generation Okanagan Valley fruit farmers work alongside viticulturists and master soil scientists to ensure every inch of the unique nutrient-rich soil here reaches its full potential for fertility and terroir.

Every technique from traditional organic farming using cover crops, composts, and earthworms to laboratory science and electromagnetic soil analysis is employed in the pursuit of perfect flavor.

A commitment to sustainable practices ensures this perpetual improvement can go on forever, and it can be seen in the rich wildlife of bees, falcons, and even chickens – who all do their part keeping the crops free of pests and insects in an environment free from harmful chemicals.

Taste the Mission Hill Winery Difference for Yourself

It’s all well and good reading about the excellent work being done at Mission Hill Family Estate, but to truly appreciate it, you simply must try it for yourself. Luckily, Mission Hill hosts a variety of tasting experiences every day between 11 am and 6 pm. Due to the understandable demand, we would strongly recommend making reservations ahead of time.

Guests can choose from the following four tasting experiences:

Behind Closed Doors:

Here, an expert sommelier will take you down to where it all happens.

Witness the magic of the Estate’s humidity and temperature-controlled barrel cellar. The only natural light down here is that which filters through the single oculus (meaning eye in Latin) window in the ceiling – which is also how the winery’s flagship wine gets its name.

This experience includes a seated tasting of a generous array of Estate-grown vintages.

Harvest Lunch:

Experience the bounty of the changing seasons with a specially-paired two-course lunch.

No two parts of the year are the same in the microclimate-rich Okanagan Valley, and the treats to your palette will reflect this. We wouldn’t blame you for wanting to come back again, and again… and again.

Art aficionados will also appreciate the original one-of-a-kind tapestry by French artist Marc Chagall that backdrops this sophisticated dining scene.

Mission Hill Wine Tasting

A Taste of the Okanagan:

This seated tasting will give you an appreciation for the art and natural processes that go into creating Mission Hill’s Reserve wines.

Guests will be sure to leave with a thorough knowledge and understanding of just how special the diverse ancient soils and delicate microclimates of the Okanagan Valley are.

A Taste of Single Vineyard Wines:

For true appreciators of the magic of unique terroirs, nothing can compare to this tasting experience.

Taste your way through Mission Hill’s mind-boggling variety of vines with this expertly guided journey through the various microclimates of Okanagan Valley.

This experience focuses on fostering an intimate understanding of the flavor profiles of Mission Hill’s Terroir Collection wines, as well as what processes lead to such distinctive results.

Mission Hill Wine Tasting Room

Wine Tours of Mission Hill Family Estate

There are plenty of wine tour organizations that will whisk you around the various wineries in the coveted Kelowna and Okanagan Valley area.

Some of our favorites include:

Teehouse Wine Tours – who are one of the only companies that guarantee a visit to both Mission Hill and the incredible Quails’ Gate (who we will also cover in detail) as well as a picturesque lunch stop.

OK Wine Tours – who also have the option to take you to both Mission Hill and Quails’ gate, as well as three other local wineries.

Vines & Views Wine Tours – who will take you for a guided tasting at Mission Hill, as well as visiting four other wineries in the area.

Mission Hill Tasting Area

However, the true beauty of Mission Hill Family Estate is that you really can spend the whole day immersed there. Especially if you opt to dine at their fabulous terrace restaurant or choose to visit on one of their special event days – both of which we’ll cover further down the page.

Dining at the Unforgettable Mission Hill Terrace Restaurant

One of the true joys of wine is how it can bring the flavors of your meal to life like nothing else – and nowhere takes advantage of this fact quite like Mission Hill’s Terrace Restaurant.

The culinary philosophy of Executive Chef Patrick Gayler is ‘if the valley thrives, we thrive,’ which is in perfect accordance with everything that happens over at Mission Hill. Sustainability truly is at the heart of this whole project.

The food at the Terrace Restaurant is designed with a focus on simplicity and locally-sourced ingredients that change with the seasons. Much like the wines they are expertly paired with, this allows the unique flavor profiles of the local soils to speak for themselves.

Mission Hill BC Honey

Mission Hill only uses the freshest organic ingredients, sourced from personal relationships with local farmers or grown right there on the Estate farm. Cooperation with local expert foragers also ensures you enjoy rare local delicacies found in the valley itself, such as edible flowers, seasonal mushrooms, and wild lilies.

The farming practices on the Estate have a large part to play in all this sustainable deliciousness. With farmland, gardens, orchards, and even beehives on-site, you can truly taste the bounty of the Okanagan. The cellars have a part to play too, aging the vinegars and charcuteries before they reach your plate!

Mission Hill Christmas Trees

Unfortunately, the Terrace Restaurant is only open from May through to October – but their Holiday Meal Kit pick-up program can take care of your Christmas dinner without you needing to lift a finger. They even accept special arrangements and give you the option to indulge in carefully-chosen wine pairings!

Become a Member of the Mission Hill Wine Club

If you’re anything like us, you will find it hard to stop thinking about Mission Hill after you leave – which is why we’re super glad their Wine Club can keep you supplied all year with home-delivered bottles and reasons to return.

Mission Hill Estate Room

The benefits of joining the Mission Hill Wine Club include:

  • Access to the members-only Estate room, where your personal sommelier will guide you through private tastings on each visit.
  • Exclusive access to tickets for the annual iconic concert in Mission Hill’s stunning amphitheater, where a specially-selected artist will perform just for members.
  • Six bottles of seasonally-selected wines are delivered directly to your door three times per year. Each shipment will include exclusive members-only wines, brand-new releases, and special library vintages. You can even review and customize your shipment before it leaves the winery.
  • Access to special members-only events, including dinners with the expert winemakers themselves, tutored tastings to pass sommelier expertise on to you, receptions, and virtual tasting events. These events occur both at Mission Hill and at other specially-selected destinations.

Mission Hill Compendium

To ensure that everybody’s needs are catered for, Mission Hill even offers three different levels of Wine Club membership. These are:

Reserve Membership – which includes Reserve Collection wines and Terroir Collection wines in each shipment, and the ability to invite three guests to your members-only experiences.

Terroir Membership – which includes Terroir Collection wines and a bottle of the flagship Oculus wine in each shipment, as well as four guest invites for members-only experiences.

Legacy Membership – which includes Terroir wines, Legacy Collection wines, and two bottles of Oculus in each shipment, as well as five guests invites!

P.S. – If you were wondering what is so special about the flagship Oculus wine, just take a look at this sterling review.

Mission Hill: Events Like No Other

Let’s face it, wine and culture are inseparable, so it should come as no surprise to you that Mission Hill put on events throughout the year that will stay in your memory forever.

No two events at Mission Hill are exactly alike, so the best to find out what’s on offer is to visit the events calendar on their website. However, from intimate dinners with the expert winemakers themselves, one-off concerts set in their incredible amphitheater, feasts based on classic cuisines from around the world, and much more, there truly is a moment for every taste.

The backdrop of their dramatic architecture, access to the very best food and wine pairings, and a staggering 120,000-square-feet of event space also make Mission Hill the perfect place to stage your extended family gathering or corporate retreat. The following are available on a quote-by-quote basis:

Wine-Paired Dinners – where you and anywhere between twenty to two hundred of your guests will be treated to a four or five-course vineyard-to-table meal. All the ingredients are locally-grown, foraged, or harvested in accordance with Mission Hill’s dining philosophy – and, of course, the library vintages are selected to match them perfectly.

Sip and Mingle Receptions – nothing breaks the ice and smooths a social event quite like hand-served elegant canapés paired with conversation-worthy wines. With tasteful ambiance, nine venues to choose from, the option of chef-attendant culinary stations, and space for up two-hundred guests, the possibilities are endless.

Virtual Tastings – as we mentioned earlier, rolling with the times is something that Mission Hill excels at. Those concerned about the risks of in-person mingling can enjoy climate-controlled shipments of handpicked wine delivered directly, including tasting notes, cheeses, chocolates, and even corkscrews – should you require them. An expert sommelier will be streamed directly to you, to provide all the information, wisdom, and guidance of an in-person tasting.

Mission Hill Wine Collection

Mission Hill Wine

The wine collection at Mission Hill is unsurprisingly extensive – as well as special featured wines, red wines, white wines, large formats and bundles, and aged library wines.

They also have three different special collections, each with their own characteristics, qualities, and levels of exclusivity:

The Reserve Collection

Limited-availability vintages display the range of characteristics possible from Mission Hill’s diverse and distinctive grapes and vineyard soil properties.

These wines are a product of painstaking viticulture management, long barrel aging times, and increased amounts of lees stirring.

Mission Hill Retail

The Terroir Collection

These vintages showcase the true bewildering potential of the conditions in Okanagan Valley. Each wine will have its own distinct personality, dependent on the microclimate, clone, soil type, and the precise organic farming techniques that went into producing it.

These wines are extremely limited, as they are made with the top 3% of Mission Hill’s fruit yield, in terms of quality. Every piece of fruit is selected by hand, and each wine has been personally tasted at each step of the production process to ensure the perfect blend.

The Legacy Collection

The best of the best, Legacy wines are completely handmade. The grapes are harvested by hand, sorted by hand, and only the top 1% of fruits from the Estate make the cut.

Every bottle in the Legacy Collection has been aged for 24 months before being released. It goes without saying that their stock is incredibly limited, making them perfect for collectors and wine cellar owners alike.

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