When thinking of Canada, lush vineyards are often not the first image that springs to mind. Yet, the country's expansive geography – from the Pacific to Atlantic Ocean – is home to numerous viticulture regions, and they are attracting visitors with their award-winning wines and novel experiences. From fledgling regions in Newfoundland, to more established areas such as the Niagara Peninsula, wine culture is alive and well north of the 49th parallel. Among these diverse wine regions, the Okanagan Valley in Canada's westernmost province of British Columbia is earning its place on the map as a destination for serious oenophiles and casual connoisseurs alike with offerings that go far beyond vineyard tours and tastings. 9 foods to help you defy flu in cold weather Carved out by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago, the Okanagan Valley stretches over 200km, from the province's southern interior region to the United States border. In its wake, ancient retreating ice left behind a chain of lakes and fertile deposits of silt and sediment lining the sides and bottom of the valley. To the west, the Coast Mountains which give Vancouver its rugged scenery, provide a rain shadow effect for the Okanagan Valley, limiting annual precipitation in much of the region to about 300mm. The valley's climate and topography have made it one of the province's most productive agricultural areas and built the foundation for a prosperous wine industry. Often dubbed “Napa of the North”, the region boasts 8,830 planted acres of vineyards and 185 licensed grape wineries. Is tiramisu an aphrodisiac? The Italian dessert born in brothels In West Kelowna, situated on a hilltop overlooking the scenic Okanagan Lake, Mission Hill Winery entices visitors with its internationally heralded wines as well as striking architecture. Passing through the massive stone archway into the courtyard of the property, one is struck by the image of the 12-story bell tower, topped by a lightning rod and pelican-inspired weathervane, a nod to the family crest of proprietor Anthony von Mandl. Designed by architect Tom Kundig to evoke a “primitive modernist aesthetic”, the property is home to many breathtaking spaces including a massive, climate-controlled barrel cellar blasted into volcanic rock, and a reception hall featuring a stunning Marc Chagall tapestry. Sommelier-guided tours are an opportunity to sample selections from the award-winning Legacy and Terroir collections, while learning about the Okanagan Valley's five unique growing regions: West Kelowna, East Kelowna, Naramata Bench, Black Sage Bench and Osoyoos. Across these regions, nearly every style of wine is produced from Merlots, pinot noirs and Cabernets to Chardonnays and Rieslings. Twenty years ago, with no vineyard holdings of its own, Mission Hill produced its wine with grapes bought from other vineyards. Today, it has estate vineyards in each of the Okanagan Valley's five growing regions. Origins series: the stories behind our favourite dishes Across those regions, the selection of wines and experiences is an embarrassment of riches. At Elephant Island Orchard Wines on the Naramata Bench for example, the emphasis is on fruit wines and visitors can take home libations produced with cherries, pears, apples and blackcurrants to add to their personal collections. In Osoyoos, at the south end of the Okanagan Valley, you can find Nk'Mip Cellars, North America's first Indigenous-owned winery. A cultural centre on the property celebrates the history of the Osoyoos Indian Band, and the unique physical surroundings, part of Canada's only desert. Nk'Mip Cellars and Mission Hill are among the many wineries in the region that hold long table dinner events during the warmer summer months. Renowned chefs pair delectable cuisine with local wines, and guests find the perfect occasion to make new acquaintances while enjoying the views at these communal, outdoor dining celebrations. F11 Foto Museum founder Douglas So’s battle to save photography Those seeking a more “mobile” experience might consider booking on the Grand Sommelier Express. This heritage steam engine transports guests along the Kettle Valley Railway in Summerland, and features on-board tastings, live music, a stop at a scenic railway trestle, and a catered reception to top it all off. A sell out in 2019, tickets for the 2020 event are already in short supply. Next year will also see the launch of Canada's first “wine village” in the region, with the District Wine Village set to break ground. This new facility in Penticton will include dedicated production facilities for 16 local wineries, a culinary experience centre and a 610-person amphitheatre. With a vast selection of wines to sample, complemented by entertainment and leisure opportunities, the Okanagan Valley merits serious consideration on any wine-lover's destination wish list. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter . Want more? J oin the Travel With STYLE Facebook group and discover what it means to actually live your best life – and not just to travel, but to travel with style.