Recently named by enRoute Magazine as “one of the world’s 5 best wine regions you’ve never heard of,” the Similkameen wineries are starting to get some of the attention they deserve. This little patch of vineyards and orchards in the hot, dry and sunny Similkameen Valley is turning out some stunning grape and fruit wines. Set amongst the dramatic backdrop of craggy mountains, it is not surprising that wine lovers are starting to take notice.
The Similkameen Valley has been growing fruit and grapes for many years, but it is only recently that there has been a rapid expansion in the number of wineries. Prior to this, many of the grapes were sold to Okanagan wineries and contributed to a number of award winning wines. Now the awards are piling up for wineries in the Similkameen! Dozens of medals have been awarded to Similkameen wineries over the past few years at major national and international competitions. Eight of the Similkameen wineries have joined forces to form the Similkameen Wineries Association (SWA) to help put the spotlight on the exciting developments in this region. Cerelia, Clos Du Soleil, Eau Vivre, Forbidden Fruit, Orofino, Robin Ridge, Rustic Roots, and Seven Stones are working together to welcome everyone to the beautiful Similkameen Valley!
There are currently over 600 acres of vineyards in the Similkameen and a large number of orchards. In fact, the region is considered to be the organic capital of Canada with an estimated 42% of all crops grown organically. This is due to the ideal conditions of dry heat, long hours of sunlight and the famous wind that whips through the valley keeping out pests and diseases.
Part of the reason the Similkameen is making such diverse and interesting wines is the complexity of the local soils. Soils have been deposited from retreating glaciers, meltwaters, floods and streams. Wind-blown soils, alluvial fans and coarse rocky material have been broken down from the surrounding mountains. These soils and the different elevation and aspects of the vineyards and orchards allow successful wines to be made from aromatic whites to full-bodied and complex reds. The sun-drenched, sweet fruit is the perfect basis for an endless array of fruit wines.
It’s worth the 20-minute drive from Osoyoos or the 30-minute drive from Penticton to the Similkameen to discover this hidden gem. With all that is happening in the Similkameen, you can bet that this region will not be unheard of for long.