Probably most people outside of British Columbia have not heard of the Similkameen Valley. But they may have heard of some of the wineries. Does Clos du Soleil, Herder Winery, or Rustic Roots Winery sound familiar? Maybe you see their Twitter tweets?
Where is the Similkameen Valley?
The Similkameen Valley is about a 20-minute drive from Osoyoos or a 30-minute drive from Penticton to reach the Similkameen Valley. It is approximately southwest of Penticton.
It is not part of the Okanagan. It is characterized by a long narrow valley with steep mountain sides and an absence of major lakes. This lack of large water bodies influences the temperature regime in the Valley. The Okanagan Lakes store heat and allows for a longer growing / ripening season for the Okanagan, plus moderates the temperature of the land lakeside. The growing season in the Similkameen Valley are shorter. The grapes will have a different character compared to the warmer, longer season in the Okanagan. It should produce more citrusy whites and lighter bodied red wines, with higher acidity in general. Cawston and Keremeos would be two towns in the Similkameen you may have heard of. The map below shows the location of the main wineries in the Similkameen Valley.
Which Grapes Do Well in the Similkameen?
There are currently over 600 acres of vineyards in the Similkameen. The Wines of BC keeps track of the different grape varieties planted around BC. They indicate that these varieties are planted in the Similkameen:
- Merlot (17 per cent),
- Gamay Noir (14 per cent),
- Pinot Noir (10 per cent),
- Cabernet Sauvignon (5 per cent),
- Cabernet Franc (7 per cent),
- Chardonnay (13 per cent),
- Pinot Blanc (7 per cent),
- Pinot Gris (7 per cent),
- and small amounts of Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
In addition to grapes, there are many orchards in the Valley growing apples, cherries, apricots and more.
What Wines Can I Buy from the Similkameen?
Eight wineries joined together to form the Similkameen Wineries Association. You can read about the wineries and association here.
Some of the wines you could purchase include:
- Clos du Soleil Capella White Blend $32.99
- Clos du Soleil Signature (Red Bordeaux blend)
- Orofino Riesling $23.99
- Orofino Red Bridge Red Merlot, $29.99
- Herder Winery Estate Chardonnay $35
- Herder Winery Estate Pinot Noir $35
- Rustic Roots Apple Pear $18.90
- Rustic Roots Apricot $28.90 (dessert style)
- Forbidden Fruit Pearsuasion (pear wine)
- Forbidden Fruit Cherysh (cherry wine)
From the brief sample above, there should be some wine to suit everyone’s palate. There are also both grape and non-grape based fruit wines too.
As these are small wineries, relatively speaking, your best bet at finding these wines would be in a private wine shop, or at the winery.
Last but not least, maybe you pine to be a winery owner. I did a quick check and there is a property for sale with 5 acres of vineyards with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and and Cabernet Franc for a mere CAD$999,000. Here is the weblink to the VineSmart real estate listing.
I have yet to make it out to the Similkameen to visit the wineries there. When I do, I will provide you with a detailed review. Enjoy.