Wine in the Okanagan
Did you know that the Okanagan valley wine region is the second-largest wine producing area in Canada? If you are planning a visit to the Okanagan, you can’t miss the beautiful vineyards. Boasting 84% of the province’s vineyard acreage, the Okanagan Valley is BC’s premier grapegrowing region. With an ever-changing panorama, the valley stretches over 250 kilometres, across sub-regions, each with distinct soil and climate conditions suited to growing a range of varietals from sun-ripened reds to lively, fresh (and often crisp) whites.
The Okanagan Valley wineries are rich in tradition and character, consistently ranking among the world’s best. From this “Wine in the Okanagan Series”, we will introduce you to the region’s wine’s history, types, wine tours, and other activities you can enjoy.
History of wine in Okanagan
We can’t discuss wine without talking about its history in the Okanagan. The first Okanagan vineyard was at the Oblate Mission in Kelowna in 1859, planted by French Catholic priest Charles Pandosy. It was solely intended for the production of sacramental wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. It did not produce high-quality wines at first, but following Father Pandosy, a number of small wineries emerged.
In the early 1930s, 70 years after the first vineyard, Kelowna’s Calona Vineyards opened. Calona Vineyards is British Columbia’s oldest continuously operating winery and is worth a visit! As the twentieth century progressed, Okanagan wineries started experimenting with hybrid grape varieties and eventually vinifera vines, allowing them to produce much better wines.
Wines produced here are often referred to as Cool Climate Wines. They include Ortega, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Gamay Noir, Kerner, Syrah, Maréchal Foch and Viognier. The most agreed upon statement is that BC is defined by its naturally high acidity wines. The idea is that regardless of the grape variety or style of wine or where the grapes were grown, the unifying factor would always be that natural acidity backbone. The Okanagan wine region has a lot to offer the global wine industry, particularly its many grape varieties and wide range of wine styles.
Interested in Okanagan wines? Please stay tuned for more about Okanagan wines.
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Written by Natsumi Matsumoto