The Okanagan Valley is located in British Columbia, a province in Canada and it is famous for its outdoor activities like biking, hiking, water sports, and skiing. Okanagan Valley is very environmental conscious especially with transport systems and their sustainable ways of life. It also stretches into the United States as a county with the same name in north central Washington. In recent times, the region has turned to more agricultural activities like fruit orchards, wineries, and vineyards. It has become the second biggest wine region in Canada and is fondly referred to as the Tuscany of Canada.
A history of wine in Okanagan Valley
A European missionary Charles Pandosy was the first foreign settler in the Okanagan region of British Columbia and noticing the fertile nature of the soil and favorable climate, he planted vines for the purpose of making sacramental wines. He settled in what is now the main city of Kelowna and planted grapes that were suitable for religious wines but not great for making richer high-quality wines. As more people noticed his winemaking activity, they began to plant their own vines until they were prohibited from doing so and returned to planting other crops instead. Later in the 19th century, the Casorsos brothers started planting vines again in Rutland and were instrumental in the relaunching of the wine industry in British Columbia. Pandosy originally planted only labrusca grape varieties and in the 20th century more winemakers started introducing more varieties that make high-quality wines into the Okanagan Valley and Vitis vinifera is now grown in every vineyard in Okanagan.
Grape varieties of Okanagan Valley
Okanagan valleys continental climates connected to bodies of water and fertile soil make its terrior great for cultivating a number of grape varieties. No longer restricted to just one grape variety the introduction of more vinifera into Okanagan vineyards has seen more vineyards grow grapes like
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Gris
- Cabernet Franc
- Marechal Foch
- Auxerrois Blanc
The region is known for making several styles of wine with ice wines being the most popular. Other styles of wine produced here include sparkling wines, dessert wines, and fortified wines.
Vineyards in Okanagan Valley
There is an impressive number of vineyards operating in Okanagan seeing as most of them were established around 20 years ago. There are over 200 planted vineyards covering approximately 5,930 acres (2,400 hectares) as at the year 2015. Some of these vineyards are boutique vineyards that provide a world-class experience when you tour or go for wine tastings. The owners are warm and friendly and some vineyards like Mission Hill draws visitors from busier areas of Canada as well as foreigners with its statues, enormous bell tower, and Chagall tapestries. Exploring the region’s vineyards is a favorite pastime for many who want to relax and feel at one with nature.
From its farm to plate culture and dazzling vineyards, the wine industry in Okanagan continues to thrive and produce wines that are of award-winning standards. Some of the best wines from Okanagan Valley are, Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Riesling Icewine, Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio Red, Tantalus Vineyard Riesling, Foxtrot Vineyards Pinot Noir and Painted Rock Estate Syrah.