Similkameen wines have characteristics and flavours that are only found in this valley. It’s that special combination of altitude, sunshine, moisture, wind, and our unique soil that combine to create the perfect conditions for our award-winning wines.
The beauty of the Similkameen is raw, natural, rugged and awe inspiring. Ages ago, glaciers covered this land. You can still visualize their retreat as you look over the rolling hills and rocky, weathered cliffs. In some places, you’ll see formations called alluvial fans. These triangle-shaped deposits are comprised of sand, gravel, sediment and silt. They were created when water flowed down the mountain side.
The top soil here was created from deposits from the glaciers, and soils brought here from snowmelt, streams and ancient rivers and floods. The result is soil high in calcium carbonate, which gives our wines such a desirable minerality. It’s this unique combination in the soil that helps create complex and elegant flavour profiles in our wines.
The Similkameen is known for its winds. Just like the Tramontana winds of Italy and the Mistral winds in France, winds have an enormous effect on the grapes grown in these areas. The Similkameen winds also help keep the vineyards clean from pests and diseases. With the already arid conditions, the winds help reduce the moisture in the vines and soil, which reduces the need for spraying. In fact, more than 40% of the crops grown here are grown organically. The Cawston area is currently known as the “Organic Capital of Canada”.
While our winds don’t have a name, the village of Keremeos was named ages ago by the Okanagan First Nations. Some say it means meeting of the winds, while other say it means creek which cuts its way through flats.
Let the Sun Shine
The Similkameen Valley and the vineyards that lie within get around 2600+ hours of sunshine a year. During the peak of the growing season, the vineyards can get as much as two hours more sunlight per day than famed regions such as Napa Valley in California.
Temperatures here can soar to above 40°C (104°F) in the summer. With high mountains on either side of the valley, and the rocks reflecting the heat back down onto the vines, ensure the vines work hard at ripening the grapes to perfection.
Due to the altitude of the vineyards, between 400-480 metres, the Similkameen is considered high altitude viticulture. There is no lake here to help moderate the temperatures. That means that some summer nights could drop below 10°C (50°F). These extreme temperatures help the grapes retain their natural acidity and ripen the fruit.
The Similkameen River
The Similkameen River is the lifeblood of the valley. It starts high in the mountains and runs 197km (122mi) from high through our valley and crosses the border at Cawston into the USA. During spring run-off, it is a powerful river; however, by mid to late summer it is calm and inviting. The Similkameen water plays a part in creating award winning wines that show the true character of the Similkameen.
Those that grow our grapes and make our wines are as wonderful as the wines they create. We have newcomers from all over the world, as well as multi-generational families who started with crops and tree fruits and branches out into grape growing and wine making. All have a passion for creating what we think, are some of the best wines in the world.
The Similkameen is known for being rustic, rugged and real. The beauty of our valley, our strong agricultural backbone and our genuine people make the Similkameen a special place for us. Stop for a moment and listen to the whispers in the wind. They tell of an intricate past, and of wonderful things to come.
Whether it’s a wine made of grapes or fruit, or a skillfully crafted cider, you can taste the passion and commitment in all that we produce here.