Similkameen Valley: Mountains & Vines
My favorite saying that has stuck with me all these years is: "The only time it's not windy in the Similkameen Valley is when the wind blows from all 4 directions at the same time."
These winds are an integral part of this wine region as it helps with disease and pest pressure, so it's no surprise that the region is called the "Organic Capital of Canada".
Different from the north-south Okanagan Valley, the Similkameen Valley runs in an east-west manner, with the majority of the vineyards located around the small communities Keremeos & Cawston before making a sharp turn south towards the US Border. The eastern flowing Similkameen River is powerful, the narrow valley is hugged by awe-inspiring mountains accompanied by large stones that look like they've been dropped by mythical creatures and are tucked into the land along the rolling vineyards. Not only will you find grapevines here but also some of the best organic peaches, apricots, cherries, apples and an abundant amount of other high quality produce. (We will make sure to stop at a produce market!)
The last ice age left the Similkameen Valley with a diverse and beautiful terroir of stony, gravelly and silty loams from glacial rock formation. The steep mountains surrounding this valley have heat retaining capability which allows grapes to ripen in the valley long after the sun has set. With hot summer days and an average of 1533 growing degree days (hotter than Napa!), combined with cool evenings due to the arid environment with mountains that tower over the vineyards you have yourselves some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in British Columbia. This area is small, only accounting for 6% total of vineyards planted in British Columbia, but unlike the Okanagan Valley where suitable land to plant is scarce, there is still potential room to grow in the Similkameen Valley and future of this wine region is very exciting.
So let’s go on a wine adventure and let me guide you from the farm, to your glass.
If this sounds like your type of wine adventure, check out the tour here!
Jess Hopwood, WSET3 Certified, FWS with a Master in Champagne, SWS, IWS and Certificate of Viticulture, BC Wine Ambassador, Wine Geek and friend
I take pride in my professionalism... I've been a butler for the 1% on luxury yachts and private jets, but am also kind, quick-witted and sometimes outright hilarious. Not only that, but I really enjoy curating unforgettable experiences for people from around the world. So in a nutshell, I'd explain these tours to be "civilized elegance without being stuffy". This wine tour is different, but I'm different, and I think if you're here reading this to the end then you may be looking for a different kind of wine tour. So let's embrace the power of being different.
"Be curious, not judgmental." - Walt Whitman (and Ted Lasso)