Reconcili-ACTION | Indigenous BC Wine History

Did you know that the Okanagan Valley is home to the first Indigenous Winery in North America?


Hey there this is Jess, owner and guide of Farm to Glass Wine Tours and I am a 3rd generation settler of English & Scottish decent. 

I would like to begin by acknowledging that I have the privilege to live on the unceded ancestral territories of the following peoples: Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. I am privileged and so incredibly grateful to conduct Farm to Glass Wine Tours on the unceded ancestral territories of the following peoples: Temxulaxʷ (Nlaka’pamux & Syilx)

Did you know that the Osoyoos Indian Band were key players in shaping the modern wine industry to what it has become today?  They planted 200 acres of vitis vinifera (the grapes we have come to love to drink) back in 1968. 

Fast forward to now and we have 3 Indigenous owned wineries in the Okanagan and one of them has recently started distilling as well! 

  • Apricus Cellars in the District Wine Village in Oliver, BC
  • Indigenous World Winery & Distillery in West Kelowna, BC
  • Nk'Mip Winery in Osoyoos, BC & the District Wine Village in Oliver, BC

I'd like to take an except out of a book that speaks to the history.  I have received permission from the author, and if you would like to find this fabulous book look for Valleys of Wine by Luke Whittall.

In 1966, Joseph Peller approached the Osoyoos Indian Band about leasing some of the land his father had seen on his first visit to the Okanagan Valley.  At first, the band refused the offer but the seed had been planted.  Rather than lease out the land, the band considered starting its own vineyard.  Chief Louie Louie began looking into it.  In 1968, with contributions from the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Department of Indian (now called Indigenous) and Northern Affairs totalling almost $500,000, the first grapes were planted on a plateau on the reserve just east of Oliver.  It was the beginning of Inkameep Vineyards.  Inkameep means "the place where the creek joins the lake" in the Okanagan dialect of the Interior Salish language. 

Ok it's me (Jess) again chatting to you! 

There is a lookout at a radio tower on the OIB land that the vineyard supervisor of Inkameep (we went to viticulture school together) brought me to (though you do need 4x4) that overlooks this 200 acres and though the varieties have changed over the decades, there is no doubt that the land is amazing for growing grapes.  It's not 100% perfect, as you can see the odd pocket of land where frost collects in the winter, but it's fixed with wind turbines - as is common in Oliver and Osoyoos.  But it's almost perfect and Chief Louie saw the potential.  

I highly recommend that you seek out these wineries when you visit the region, or we can visit them on 3 different Farm to Glass Wine Tours.   

If you're in the South Okanagan in Osoyoos you can visit the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre or, if you would like to add it to your wine adventure, just ask!  

Want more information on Indigenous Tourism in the Okanagan?  I highly recommend visiting Indigenous Tourism BC.

Be Curious

Be Kind

Listen to Their Stories

Be an Ally

Jess - Owner & Guide of Farm to Glass Wine Tours