This guide to Okanagan Wine country explores the region’s best wine-coloureds and where they proliferate. Plus, for the persons who inspect, a few travel tips-off for the wine enthusiast.
You’re about to get frustrated.
You’re about to find out about an incredible wine region that you can’t delicacy unless you go there.
Why? Well, Okanagan wines simply don’t traveling far from British Columbia. That said, it’s well worth the trip.
( and shockingly affordable too .)
Okanagan vineyards are surrounded by startling surrounding, such as this view over Blue Mountain Vineyards in South Okanagan. By Wine Folly
Most wine aficionados think of Canadian wine country as ice wine country. For “the worlds largest” proportion, they’re right. About two thirds of the world’s ice wine production is happening in Canada.
Thus, Okanagan has reputation for being” another frost wine region of Canada .” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Okanagan Valley’s good wine-coloreds are cool cherry-red and white wine.
If you adore Syrah, GSM Blends, right bank Bordeaux( i.e. Merlot melds ), the Okanagan Valley will surprise you. On the world scale, Okanagan is a mecca for Chardonnay, Riesling, sparkling wines, and Pinot Gris.( And yes, they draw some sparkler wine more !)
Making wine here is no small-time undertaking. Okanagan wine country lies at the outer limits of viticulture. It sits right below the 50 th latitude( that’s the same as Champagne, btw ). Yet unlike Champagne, Okanagan is baked, pleasant, and hot.
Still, the growing season is quite short-lived. So, how do they ripen red-faced grapes?
For one, the committee is long daylight hours in summer months.( It’s light out well after 9pm !) Additionally, the 83 -mile long( 134 km) Lake Okanagan moderates temperature extremes in the summer and wintertime.
The best part is that individual regions has a long history in agriculture. Before such areas was known for wine, it was acclaimed for peaches, cherries, and apples. This is important because it makes there is a solid agricultural footing which has evolved over time.
The Wines of Okanagan Syrah
This was a surprise for us. Syrah is known to grow in heated, pleasant environments like South Australia, South africans, and the Northern Rhone Valley. In Okanagan, you’ll find most of the best wine-coloreds stretch in the South around Oliver and Osoyoos (” oh-soy-yoos “). One noticeable neighborhood for wine production is on the east side of Oliver, on Black Sage bench.
Okanagan Syrah savors much closer to what you’ll find in cooler particular regions of the Northern Rhone. The good specimen exhibit spices of crimson cherry-red, dried cranberry, sage-green, and white pepper. Wines have medium-plus tannins, moderate acidity, and a sugared cherry finish. This is not your normal large-hearted, forceful Syrah. It’s luxurious and often smells a bit meaty.
More surprises come from the Bordeaux coalesces induced with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. While Cabernet Sauvignon seems to have trouble here, Merlot and Cabernet Franc do just fine on the east benches of the lakes.
The Merlot is reminiscent of what you might find in Bordeaux, but somewhat leaner and a bit fruitier. Flavors include sweetened cherry outcome, black currant, cocoa pulverization, tobacco and schistous humid gravel.
Lovers of the Loire are all aware Okanagan Cabernet Franc for its spices of cool spice snowflakes, cherry sauce, chocolate pulverize, and moderate acidity. Though, the wine-coloreds penchant riper and sweeter here with most robust, suede-like tannins.
In the interval you can see Black Sage Bench in Oliver, BC- a popular spot for red wine varieties in Okanagan. Other Reds
At the moment, the region is heavily invested in Bordeaux-style crimson combinations. This is no doubt from high demand. That said, the future may tell another story.
Who would think Pinot Noir could stretch now? In the North, in East Kelowna, there is a fair sum of powdery, chalk-like soil. The grime is so powdery in fact, that it’s unlikely phylloxera will live now. The Pinot Noir wine-coloureds from such areas will appeal to those who love unadulterated, stylish, fruity ruby-reds. Well-made examples offer sugared raspberry, cranberry, and pomegranate observes with high acidity and crunchy, lettuce tannins( from whole cluster fermenting ).
The areas with granite and volcanic sandy soils in the South and east places of the pond induce red wines with high fragrants. These discerns might actually be well-suited for GSM-blends( Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) or multi-faceted CMS melds( Cabernet-Merlot-Syrah) like you might found under Priorat or Eastern Washington .
Okanagan should be known for its outstanding white wines.
Chardonnay is where Okanagan is starting to take world-class steps. It’s a lot like Chablis , but with the kiss of oak.
In the South, the best implants are on the west side of the hollow to avoid the afternoon sun. These wine-coloreds offer up savor of fury return, yellowish apple, and apricot, with toasty observes of creme brulee and lemon curd. Most notably, they have impressive, mouth-watering acidity and rarely savor dense.
In the North, Chardonnay does meditates in East Kelowna’s chalk-like soil. Wines are often highly list, with odor of lettuce apple, white flowers, shoot flint, and pine needle. Expect sky-high sournes balanced against insidious lanolin and hazelnut observes from aging in neutral oak puncheons.
Riesling could surely be better known from the Okanagan. The vogue is much drier than most, imparting Riesling an opportunity to sit alongside other more popular cool white wines like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Some of the best areas for this grape are in East Kelowna or in the South, from protected vineyards on the western side.
Think kiwis, limes, and leesy richness in your glass of Okanagan Riesling. If endeavouring a analogy, look to Grosse Gewaches( baked German Riesling) from the Rheingau. Or, maybe even a Grand Cru Riesling from Alsace, France.
Pinot Gris is a standby in Okanagan. It’s hard to do wrong with this grape. The best patterns are some of the most aromatically expressive Pinot Gris out there. Spices are rich with honeysuckle, orange bud, and peach, with sky high-pitched acidity, and a lean, tingly finish.
Even though most enthusiasts opt for red wines, Okanagan should be known for its exemplary white and sparkling wines. The part systematically punches all the marks including high-pitched sournes, fruitiness, and floral smells.
Given the growing season is so short-lived, numerous growers pick grapes with low-toned pH( high sournes) and grow sparkling wines. The sparkling wines from Okanagan have amazing possible, with the capacity required to senility 15+ times( when well-made) and develop subtle hazelnut-cream notes.
Another bombshell. The excellent samples tend to be from vineyards to safeguard the afternoon sunshine. Wine-coloreds have bold taste of passion fruit and pasilla spice, with high acidity and a long tingly finish.
Where Viognier from Paso Robles and the Northern Rhone is oily and rich with flavors of tangerine and vanilla, Okanagan Viognier is lean and minerally. Imagine spices of its most important lime, honeysuckle, honeydew melon, and crushed rocks, endorsed by sour-patch sournes.
They may not be favourite, but fragrant greys, including Muscat and Gewurztraminer, are perfectly at home in the Okanagan. If person figures out how to make a great, semi-bubbly Moscato here, it will blow up!
Vineyards neglecting Osoyoos Lake off of Radio Tower Road in Okanagan. By Wine Folly
When You Proceed to Okanagan Wine Country
What’s surprising about Okanagan is that is not merely is it stunningly beautiful, it’s also shockingly affordable. As a wine country end, Okanagan is still very much undiscovered. Here are some things to expect when you go.
Wine tastings run on average around$ 5- $10 Canadian ($ 4-$ 8 USD !) and everyone forfeits the fee if you buy a bottle. The majority of Okanagan’s 11,000 vineyard acres are right across the US border around Osoyoos and Oliver. The area is very seasonal. It’s snowy in the winter with very little tourist traffic, and jam-packed( and hot-as-hell) in the summer. Late springtime and early fall are the ideal hours to visit for a wine addict( good lane to avoid other seasonal freight ). Many of the wineries too have bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and onsite restaurants. Beyond wine, the region has amazing hiking, backpacking, cycling, skiing, water sports, and tenting. In terms of quality, some wineries are superb, while many are just average. Be sure to do your search. Whatever you do, make sure you producing something to keep your bottles refrigerate. It’s windy at night and there are lots of mosquitos by the lagoon, so be prepared!
Nope. This isn’t the Mosel Valley or Priorat. Gravely granite soils in Okanagan Falls, BC. By Wine Folly Okanagan Terroir
For those who like to talk dirt….
The Okanagan Valley was once a huge glacier. The grimes are primarily sandy with lily-white clay-silt on top of gravelly glacial sand with limestone, granite and other gravels of ancient volcanic descent.
What does that is really make? Well, if you were to summarized them up, wine-coloureds produced on these soils generally have high sweet-scented severity, minerality, and more slight tannins.
The region’s location only for the purposes of the 50 th parallel conveys it has a short changing season. Grapes rapidly develop sweetness during the day but it’s cold at night. This is a classic sample of diurnal shifting and is one of their reasons for Okanagan wines have mouth-zapping sournes.
Of course, ripeness levels can still get out of pas; we saw volatile acidity in some winery platforms.
Vineyard grunges in the Okanagan are frequently sandy-loam or silt over granite gravels. They’re well drained and develop wines with high-pitched aromatic intensity. By Wine Folly
As far as winemaking and viticulture croaks, the Okanagan is still being figured out. Fortunately, Canada has a record of welcoming winemakers from all over, including homes like New Zealand, South africans, Australia, and France. The outside talent produces position and wine caliber improves with each vintage.
For those to work towards organic and biodynamic wines, this area has good capability. The high winds, deficiency of phylloxera, and extreme seasons prevent a great deal of pests.
One clever technique generally employed in Okanagan wine country is picking grapes at multiple parts throughout return. Then, they’re mixed together to create a single, well balanced wine-colored. Wine-coloreds established with this method parade both ripe flavors and high natural sournes.
Tantalus winemaker, David Paterson, pictures off his Riesling and Syrah ice wine. By Wine Folly
Another common practice here is the use of bigger oak puncheons in the Okanagan Valley. This might be a traditional alternative( based on fiscals) or given the fact that the wine-coloreds tend to be more luxurious and do not motive as much oak. Many farmers too procure the use of American oak for their red wines.
One last-place foible about the area is that it is near impossible to guesstimate the age of a vineyard. Severe winters sporadically kill the vines all the way down to the beginning. The vines typically survive, but must originate a brand-new stalk. Thus, you won’t see too many gnarly vines( even though it is they truly are age-old ).
Laura, Johnny, and Madeline click a shot together outside of The Hatch- a negotiant-style winery in East Kelowna, BC. By Wine Folly