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Where to Celebrate the Harvest in British Columbia

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At summer’s end, British Columbia dazzles: dappled light falls on orchards hung with crisp apples, vineyards burst with plump grapes ready to be crushed, and great swathes of crimson cranberry bogs and earthy-orange pumpkin patches are ripe for exploration.

Days may be shorter, but the weather is still mild, and fewer crowds means a slower pace to embrace local festivities, from community harvest celebrations to sipping on seasonal tipples. Here are five places in BC where you can do just that.

Okanagan Corridor

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Okanagan Valley

After the heat of summer has gone, the Okanagan Valley remains a hot destination for harvest time.

BC’s largest wine-producing region celebrates crush time in October, with events such as the Fall Okanagan Wine Festivals‘ grape-stomping parties, farm-to-table winemakers’ dinners, barrel blending, and terroir tasting workshops.

U-pick orchards and pumpkin patches provide fun for the whole family with farm-fresh food and opportunities to procure fresh produce.

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Davison Orchards, Vernon | Andrew Strain
Mission Hill Winery, Kelowna | Tanya Goehring
Duncan Farmers Market | Tourism Cowichan

Cowichan

Named the “land warmed by the sun” by the Indigenous Coast Salish peoples, Vancouver Island’s Cowichan comes alive at harvest time with food festivals such as Eat. Stay. Play. and the annual Craft Cider Harvest Festival at Merridale Cider & Distillery, BC’s first craft distillery.

Snuggle up in a Cowichan sweater, warm up with an orchard-side cider, then head next door to Unsworth Vineyard‘s farmhouse restaurant, one of 14 winery stops on the route between Mill Bay and Ladysmith.

The Cowichan boasts more than 700 farms, including Canada’s first tea farm in Duncan, Westholme Tea Company. The town is also home to one of BC’s biggest farmers markets, bursting with fall foods and local crafts. Walk off the seasonal tarts and Nanaimo bars—and take in the fall foliage—with a hike up nearby Maple Mountain.

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Similkameen Valley

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Similkameen Valley

The Similkameen is known for its boutique wineries and small farms that thrive in the “organic capital of Canada.”

Mountains peppered with sumac, cottonwood, and golden larch provide a dramatic backdrop and help the arid valley retain heat throughout the year.

Pick up all manner of fresh veggies from fruit stands and farm shops along Highway 3 in Cawston and Keremeos.

Visit the only working waterwheel-operated grist mill in Western Canada—the 19th century Grist Mill and Gardens where harvest time brings communal table Sunday suppers, canning workshops, and a Heritage Fall Fair.

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Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery in Creston | Kari Medig

Creston Valley

Located in the West Kootenays next to Kootenay Lake, the Creston Valley has its own micro climate on a sunny bench between the Purcell and Selkirk mountains. Harvest begins early in this burgeoning wine region thanks to a bumper crop of crisp apples, sweet peaches, and ripe grapes, ready to be made into wine at one of the four wineries in the valley.

Visit roadside farm stands for fresh food and artisan products, and take in the local flair Creston Valley Farmers Market. Extend your explorations across the lake to Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver, and Nakusp—just some of the many Kootenay communities along the BC Farmers Market Trail.

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Vista D'oro Farms and Winery, Langley | Albert Normandin

Fraser Valley

The Fraser Valley‘s farm stops, corn mazes, wineries, and spirits made from locally grown corn and potatoes are best discovered on a self-guided Circle Farm Tour.

Visit historic Fort Langley to experience the annual Cranberry Festival and wander along boutique-lined Glover Road to buy tart fruit, berry wine, and other fall favourites. Pop into Trading Post Brewing’s Eatery to try Tart Cranberry Ale brewed in Langley.

In Chilliwack, immerse yourself in the Indigenous culture, traditions, and history of the Stó:lō (Halq’eméylem for “the River People”) at the Stó:lō Interpretive Centre. Deepen your understanding of local history on a “Bad Rock” tour with a Stó:lō historian Naxaxalhts’i “Sonny” McHalsie. Learn Halq’eméylem place names and Indigenous history along the Fraser Canyon, and stop at traditional salmon harvesting locations⁠—an experience especially poignant during the fall salmon run.

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Header image: Merridale Cidery & Distillery | Tourism Cowichan

POSTED BY: Amy Watkins

From: Vancouver
Amy Watkins, a British-born travel and food writer, fell in love with Vancouver at the age of 18. She has travelled the world, but her steadfast love of the West Coast led her to move here in 2012. In the UK she worked as a features editor and freelance writer for 10 years, writing about travel for magazines and newspapers. She now writes about travel, food, and West Coast life for a variety of publications. When she’s not on her laptop, she can be found exploring Stanley Park or hiking in the rainforest with her bulldog, Rick James; tackling waves and tacos in Tofino; or eating her way around the province on a food-focused road trip. Amy has even been persuaded to eat kale chips and practise yoga—making her an honorary Vancouverite.

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