As leaves have fallen, and fireplaces and firepits are fired back up for fall and winter, many people (myself included) switch to drinking primarily red wines. Merlots, Cabernets, Pinot Noirs or Red Blends all bring out unique creativity from our local wineries. Here are some of my must-sip red wines to pick up before they are sold out.

1. CedarCreek Estate Winery

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Syrah 2016. This Syrah is 100% harvested from their Haynes Creek Vineyard, making it a single vineyard wine. It occupies a unique position in this mostly-flat vineyard. The six acres of Syrah are planted on a westward slope of 15° that runs steeply down towards Osoyoos Lake. At mid-day, the heat is oppressive but Syrah vines love the heat, basking in the west-facing sun. This is a rich, age-worthy wine of striking depth – the direct result of a decision to plant it on a slope where it feels right at home.

2. House of Rose Winery

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Marechal Foch 2015. A full-bodied, deep ruby red wine with rich earthy notes of blackberry and black currant, and lush smooth flavours of salal, saskatoon, and blackberries. Great with many foods, especially red or smoked meats, cold cuts, or venison. Also divine with dark chocolate or creamy cheeses.

3. Sandhill Wines

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Merlot 2016. Garnet colour with a bouquet of ripe plum, blackberry, black cherry, sweet smoky oak, and baking spice. This full-bodied Merlot has soft yet drying tannins, great structure, and moderate acidity. The fruit-forward palate shows notes of black cherry and blackberry, with an added touch of spice. The extra-dry, lingering finish shows notes of black tea, cocoa, spice, oak, blackberry, and currant. Enjoy with grilled red meats and sautéed mushrooms; Portobello mushrooms; duck confit; lamb chops with rosemary; roasted leg of lamb; beef brisket; two-year-aged Cheddar and Asiago cheese.

4. Volcanic Hills Estate Winery

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Eruption 2014. A blend of Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, and Cab Franc. This signature wine expresses aromas and flavours of black and red berries, cedar, and toasted oak. Framed by forward tannins and toasty oak, this classic Bordeaux-style wine was barrel-aged in French and American oak for 18 months; best consumed 2019-2025. Try it with aged cheddar, smoked meats, grilled meats, steak, short ribs, roasts, lamb, game, barbecues, and pasta with tomato sauces.

5. The Hatch

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Screaming Frenzy 2014 Cabernet Franc. Off with their heads! Now, you too can join the revolution as they celebrate ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ in the newly minted Republic of Franc! A true wine of the proletariat, this Franc has democratic notes of mulberry, coffee, and hints of anise-tinged violets. This leads into a proportional representation of fine, lingering tannins and an incredibly re-electable finish.

6. Grizzli Winery

Meritage 2014. Combining some of the best wine types, this Meritage features Grizzli’s favourite reds, including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. The wines are blended together, creating perfect harmony as a whole.

7. Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery

Blaufrankisch 2017. Mt Boucherie is spreading its wings with vineyards up and down the Okanagan and beyond, including this Cawston gem in the Similkameen Valley. Now under screw cap, this Blaufrankisch (or Lemberger), is a delight to drink. The aromatic nose offers up fresh pepper and perfectly ripe plummy red fruits with zero funk. The tannins are dusty light making this very food friendly. A perfect match for grilled sausages or chorizo-spiced rice or a full roasted chicken.

8. Ancient Hill Estate Winery

Baco Noir 2015. Their flagship red, heavier-bodied and barrel-aged. Bursting with dark, rich fruits. Black cherry, plum, spicy, chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch on the nose. Soft but rich mouthfeel with powerful flavours.

9. Arrowleaf Cellars

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Zweigelt 2016. Pronounced 'ts-vi-gelt,' this crossing of Blaufränkisch and St.Laurent was pioneered by Dr. Zweigelt of Austria. On the bouquet, it shows abundant cherry, plum, coffee, and clove aromas. On the palate is medium-bodied with rich fruit, spice, and vanilla flavours lingering on the finish. Pair with tomato-sauce-based pasta, roast lamb or smoked sausage cassoulet.

10. Ex Nihilo Vineyards

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Pinot Noir 2017. An elegant, fruit-driven expression of our vineyards. Strawberry, cherry, anise, and black tea tantalize. The palate reveals earthy tones, plums, and toasted nuts. Soft, velvety tannins lead to a supple finish. 9 months in French and American Oak.

See more wineries where you can go winter wine touring: