Okanagan tourism trend combines wine with hands-on experiences

The global experiential tourism trend is starting to catch on in the Okanagan.

The concept of combining hands-on instruction with local food and wine is spreading rapidly around the world. It’s similar to dude ranches where tourists pay to help drive cattle or shear sheep before finishing off the day with a fabulous meal and five-star accommodations.

Don DeGagne is the owner of Okanagan Experiential Tourism, a new company in Kelowna taking advantage of the trend and the abundance of quality wineries in the valley.

“It essentially enhances some of the current tourism activities people do and creates another level of activity involving more of the senses,” DeGagne says.

In stunning settings across the valley, customers learn painting, carving, cooking or winemaking from qualified instructors while taking in the sights, sounds and flavours of the Okanagan.

“You might go out in vineyard for half hour and pick grapes, then spend the rest of the day stomping grapes and sipping wine. We usually combine live music and food as well,” he says. “It’s the combining of two experiences that makes this unique.”

Classes run from mid-May until just after the Fall Wine Festival in October and all take place outdoors.

DeGagne says no experience is required.

“You can’t believe with a couple hours instruction the type of soapstone carving they can do,” he says. “They are amazed. Same with the painting class. People that do it really enjoy it.”

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