The Similkameen Independent Winegrowers
Vanessa Vineyard ~ Similkameen Valley
The Similkameen Valley runs from the desert like region of Osoyoos along Highway 3 to the historic town of Princeton, some 100 km (60 mi) away, while the Okanagan Valley stretches some 250 km (155 mi) starting at Osoyoos and making its way north to Enderby. The Similkameen is historically known for its gold mines, western heritage and ranching. The city of Keremos is known as the Fruit Stand Capital of Canada.
While the Okanagan Valley's terrois is based on an elevation of 351 metres (1152 ft) the Similkameen valley's elevation is 380 metres (1300 ft.) affording it slightly cooler evenings but still maintaining the desert heat for which the area is famous during the summer months.
There are currently over 700 acres of vineyards in the Similkameen and a large number of orchards. In fact, the region is considered to be the organic farming capital of Canada with an estimated 42% of all crops grown organically. This is due to the ideal conditions of dry heat, long hours of sunlight and the famous wind that whips through the valley keeping out pests and diseases.
Clos du Soleil
2568 Upper Bench Road,
Keremeos, BC V0X 1N4
After finishing careers as an officer in the Canadian Navy and in business, Spencer Massie returned to his native Okanagan with a passion for wine, food and travel.
In 2006, he and a small group of professional business people (Les Le Quelenec and Sue Lee, Peter and Andria Lee, Bonnie Henry, Gustav Kramer) acquired a four-hectare (10-acre) orchard on the Similkameen Valley's Upper Bench Road. He had also met Lawrence and Sharon Herder who helped find the vineyard and manage early operations, planting it and launching Clos du Soleil. the vineyard with the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
The name refers to rocks, sun, and soil, from the mountain which forms a tall natural stone wall at the back of the vineyard (the Clos), the cobbled terroir, and the long days of sun which pour in on the Similkameen Bench, where it is typically 3-4 degrees warmer than elsewhere in the valley.
New facilities opened in 2015 with a 4,000 square foot winery which incorporates the new wine shop. Siding boards were salvaged from the original heritage building for use in the wine shop.“The entire tasting room, including the façade, is being done in a rustic French aesthetic style.
Michael Clark is Managing Director & Winemaker.
Signature wines: Clos du Soleil Red, Clos du Soleil White
Their wines may be found in the UK
Winemaker: Michael Clark Philosophy: Very simple – it's all about the vineyard and the wine in the bottle.
Cerelia Vineyards and Estate Winery
2235 Ferko Road,
Cawston, BC V0X 1C2
Cerelia opened in the spring of 2009. The winery name comes from ancient Rome, Cerelia, was the Roman harvest festival where local people celebrated and made offerings for the years' harvest and its continued abundance.
The winery believes in honoring each year's harvest of BC grapes with fine wines, and celebrated with good times.
Cerelia is owned by David and Peggy Mutch – Dennis and Roxanne Mutch – Megan Mutch and Corey Witter. Megan Mutch is the winemaker with
John Weber as consultant.
The wineries future includes product of 3000 plus cases,
The Cerelia, with an estate dinner and festivities and a
specialty boutique restaurant.
Signature wine: wines produced from Orange Muscat
Winemaker: Megan Mutch
Philosophy: Producing high quality wines, with diligent eyes, precise timing, all made from quality grapes and good times, whether it be in the vineyard or at the winery. The most important thing is that we enjoy
our wines and celebrating them with everyone else
Crowsnest Vineyard Ltd.
RR#1 Site 18 Comp 18
Cawston, BC VOX 1C0
The winery is nestled in the valley on the Upper Beach near Cawston. Named after Highway 3 which is also known as the Crowsnest Highway.
The winery is a family run business under the guidance of Olaf, Sabine, Ann and Sascha Heinecke who purchased the winery in October 1998.
The Heinecke family emigrated from Germany in 1994. Ann Studied winemaking at the Weinsberg Wein Schule.
Barcello Canyon label was named after the actual canyon that is right behind the winery and was named after Manuel Barcello who was the first settler in the Similkameen Valley.
Signature wines: Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Rieslings and Gewürztraminer
Chardonnay Stahltank Family Reserve, winner of the 2004 Best Un-Oaked Chardonnay of the year at the Canadian Wine Awards
Facilities include dining lounge, patio and newly designed wine and gift shop.
Winemaker: Ann Heinecke
Philosophy: To showcase the immense fruit and acidity balance this valley has to offer. Using only Similkameen Valley grapes is our priority
Corcelettes Estate Winery
2582 Upper Bench Road
Urs and Barbara Baessler who are originally from
Switzerland came to the Manitoba Prairies to farm.
Together they successfully operated both a large grain farm in Manitoba and a bison ranch in Wyoming simultaneously for 15 years. They always had a passion and interest in the vine and wine industry and the culture it surrounds. Seeking a change in lifestyle and better weather, they found the Similkameen Valley and took on another challenge.
Their son Charles (after completing his
degree in environmental sciences from the University of Lethbridge) joined them in the pursuit of producing wine. He first took a job with Herder Vineyards then in 2008, he joined Burrowing Owl Vineyards, where he is now an operations manager. There, he began to learn winemaking under the tutelage of Bertus Albertyn, the former winemaker at Burrowing Owl
Signature wine is Menhir.
Winemaker: Charlie Baessler
Philosophy:Passion, precision, progressiveness…. We have an understanding and appreciation of the unique characteristics of each of our sites, we coax the best from each vineyard to craft the very best wines that reflect that place. The magic is getting the most from carefully balancing viticulture, environmental sustainability, and winemaking techniques.
Dead End Cellars
620 Sumac Road
Cawston BC V0X 1C3
The winery is located on Ven'Amour Organic Farms, a certified organic tree fruit farm, vineyard and nature estate along the banks of the pristine Similkameen River in Cawston. This is the home of Forbidden Fruit winery Kim Brind'Amour and Steve Venables. Their son Nathan has started to produce grape wines under the Dead End Cellar label.
A red seal carpenter by trade, Nathan has renovated the family home to provide a tasting room.
The wines are organic. The name reflects the wineries location at the east end of the Similkameen Valley. It is also the most southern point of the valley.
Winemakers: Nathan Venables
Eau Vivre Winery & Vineyards
716 Lowe Drive ,
Cawston, BC V0X 1C2
The winery was sold in 2017 to Sukh and Neetu Bajwa. Founders Dale Wright and Jeri Estin were born and raised in Saskatchewan where they dabbled in making wine. When their daughter moved to the Similkameen Valley, they of course came to visit and fell in love with the area.
When they discovered that Herder Winery was for sale (Herder moved to a new location, see below)
they acquired the property after the 2007 crush.
Eau Vivre means water of life
Wines are produced from Organic grapes. Production 1500 cases
Anthony Buchanan, who has worked in the BC Wine Industry for over 5 years, is now in charge of producing the full range of Eau Vivre wines.
Anthony is a graduate of the Professional Enology Certificate Program through Washington State University and the Winemaking program at Okanagan College. He has also completed Sommelier and WSET as well as Vineyard Management training. He has worked at Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars, Church & State Wines, Soaring Eagle Estate Winery and Paradise Ranch/Bench 1775 Winery
Signature wines Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer
Winemaker: Dale Wright
Philosophy: Hand crafted small lot production from the best grapes in BC.
We are committed to harmony and balance and use biodynamic and sustainable farming practices on our land. We are innovative and we are constantly improving our grape-growing and harvesting processes. We embraced the clay-based soils of our home vineyard by planting hearty Gewürztraminer and Riesling grapes that have been developed in Europe for these soil conditions. We were among the first in our
Valley to grow Gewürztraminer and today it is one of our award-winning wines
Forbidden Fruit Winery
620 Sumac Road
Cawston BC V0X 1C3
The winery is located on Ven'Amour Organic Farms, a certified organic tree fruit farm, vineyard and nature estate along the banks of the pristine Similkameen River in Cawston. The location of this farm is surrounded by natural desert habitat and old growth river bottom forest giving the feeling of a pristine garden.
Kim Brind'Amour and Steve Venables are the owner/managers. The winery is the latest development of Ven'Amour Organic Farms. The family farm has been Organic since 1977, receiving Certified Organic Status in 1984 the year Certification began in BC.
The farm grows 3 acres of Certified Organic grapes from which the winery produces it's 'Earth Series' grape wines. These wines are designated for raising funds for Sustainability Initiatives through various organizations
Fruit varieties grown include Asian Pears, White Peaches,
White Cherries, and four iced wine varieties (apples, pears, cherries
etc.). Signature wines are Asian Pear, White Peach
Dessert and Iced Apple
Licensed picnic area by the River and Art Gallery featuring proprietor Kim Brind'Amour's multi medium art.
Steve's son Nathan produes grape wines under the Dead End label.
Winemakers: Dominic Rivard, Steve Venables,
Philosophy: highest quality organic fruit and grape wines from 100% Certified Organic fruit. Farmgate sales of all in season fruits and veggies
Hugging Tree Winery
1002 Highway 3
Cawston, BC V0X 1C2
A desire to settle and creat a home plus the help of other wineries helped establish Hugging Tree Winery. The winery is owned by Walter and Cristine Makepeace. As a RCMP office Walter was often moving. On one occasion the family lived in Oliver. They meet Randy Toor, one of
the owners of Desert Hills Estate Winery who suggest they buy a vineyard.
When Walter retired the search began for property. search for a vineyard ended when George Hanson, the owner
of Seven Stones Winery, directed them to a 24-hectare (60-acre) property
located almost across the highway from Seven Stones.
Grapes were planted in 2007 and 2008 resulting in an eight-hectare
(20-acre) vineyard, all of it in Bordeaux
reds except for a modest block of
Walter contracted Serendipity Winery
to make the wines in 2011 (50 cases of
Cabernet Sauvignon) and in 2012 (1,400
The business blossomed and now includes includes daughter Jennifer and sons Brad and Wes. Both Walter and Brad,
have taken viticulture and winemaking
courses at Okanagan College.
Winemaker: Brad Makepeace
Liber Farm and Winery.
156 Sumac Road
Cawston BC V0X 1C3
Located on the beautiful banks of the Similkameen River. The winery owned by Nicole and Mike Dowell opened in 2017. Liber Farm, named after the Roman god of wine, viticulture and freedom, is one of the oldest organic farms in British Columbia dating back to the 1960’s. 7 acres, of the 14-acre farm are planted with Chardonnay and Merlot and have been farmed organically since planting in 2007. The vineyards are planted on east to west slopes and overlook the Similkameen River. The river breeze moderates the otherwise warm site, which receives long hours of morning and evening sun. This helps develop complex flavours while retaining high levels of natural acidity in perfect balance.
“Our love for wine, the quiet farm life and the excitement of producing from the land made us take the plunge and purchase the property. As soon as we found the site, did some research, and tasted the wine, we knew we had found some real potential. The peaceful and picturesque location is not too bad either,” says owner Mike Dowell. “Our goal is to keep production to around 2000 cases so that we can focus on small lot, hands on winemaking.”
Pascal Madevon, is the consulting viticulturist and winemaker
Little Farm Winery
2155 Newton Road,
BC. V0X 1C1
The name Little Farm Winery was inspired by the French term paysan. While reading an article about some of the natural wine producers of France, one wine grower preferred to be called a paysan, or small farmer, as he translated it. It struck them that they were small farmers too and were the paysan's of their little farm.
The winery is owned by Rhys Pender MW and Alishan Driediger. They love the Valley and here is where they wanted their winery.
The property was purchased in 2009. Vineyard planting took three years. Rhys and Alishan have been in the wine industry for a long time with their business Wine Plus+ doing education, consulting, writing, judging.
Their first vintage in 2011 of just 55 cases, 190 cases in 2012.
Their goal is to obtain organic certification. They want their wine tastes to reflect where and how it was grown. A wine of place, of our soil, our climate, our farming philosophy and our winemaking beliefs. It will always be a small, hands on business where we do everything from the vineyard through the entire winemaking process ourselves.
The unique calcium carbonate soil that gives intense minerality to the wines
Signature wines are Riesling and Chardonnay from Mulberry Tree Vineyard
Winemaker: Alishan Driediger
Philosophy: In the cellar it is about minimal intervention, age-old techniques and traditions, careful respect for the natural process of winemaking and the importance of good grapes. Using the least intrusive methods, we strive to let our grapes shine through in the wine by carefully guiding the winemaking process and maintaining as much of the integrity of the grapes as possible.
We are interested in older, traditional methods such as using neutral barrels, long cool ferments, full solids, less aging and stirring and as little else as possible.
2152 Barcelo Road
Cawston, BC V0X 1C0
Nested among the almond and walnut trees of the Similkameen is Canada's first and currently the only strawbale winery. The family owned winery named after the mountain which overlooks the area. Owners are John and Virginia Weber. Orofino means fine gold in Spanish.
The Webers' purchased an existing vineyard first planted sixteen years ago. They entered the business with a strong background John is a graduate of the OUC wine studies program and he participated in all 3 strands of the faculty including viticulture, winemaking, and marketing. He was the first recipient of the Frank Supernak memorial bursary sponsored by the Canadian Vintners Association. Virginia has a diploma in horticulture.
The tasting room power comes completely from solar power. The project uses a unique hybrid system of solar photovoltaic panels and a solar thermal water heating system. The system was designed and constructed by Swiss Solar Tech from Summerland, BC who are leaders in solar technology implementation in the province.
Orofino Winery has received Gold Level Certification from the world’s largest and most credible sustainable tourism certification program.
Winemaker: John Weber
Philosophy: Make small lots of premium wine from Similkameen Valley grapes. We have an aggressive barrel program and look to show off what our terroir in this valley can produce.
Signature wines Old Vines Pinot Noir and Merlot/Cabernet
2686 Middle Bench Road
Keremeos, BC V0X 1N2
The winery is owned by Tim & Caroline Cottrill. The Robin Ridge estate vineyard includes 18 acres of well drained soils on the Similkameen Bench near the Junction of Hwy 3 and Hwy 3A in Keremeos. The vineyard was established in 1997 and expanded in 2012. The gravelly loam soil ensures the vines struggle and encourages them to produce very small yields of intensely flavoured grapes. The Cottrill’s have chosen to use the labour intensive Geneva Double Curtain trellis that aids in exposing the fruit to the intense Similkameen sunshine. Being certified organic they allow nature to speak through the terroir to produce naturally intense flavoured grapes and wines while respecting the soil and environment around them.
Robin Ridge Winery uses the Geneva Double Curtain Trellis style to allow more light into the fruiting zone while at the same time increasing the surface area of the canopy. This allows the grapes to become optimally ripe producing intense and unique flavours.
Signature wine Gamay, also produces award-winning Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. Their latest inspiration is a traditional Sparkling Finch.
winemaker: Tim Cottrill
Philosophy: The pursuit of a great berry transformed into the perfect wine is the constant quest of Robin Ridge Winery.
Rustic Roots Winery
2238 Hwy 3,
Cawston, BC V0X 1C2
Winery owners Bruce and Kathy Harker family has been in the Similkameen Valley since the Mid 1800's, having six generations or "roots") farm the land. With their image and building being very rustic, therefore the name Rustic Roots was born. Their son Troy and his wife Sara run the winery Sara is also the winemaker.
Rustic Roots is a fruit winery using local products and practicing organic farming. They use 100% certified organic fruit and are working to become certified organic in the cellar. Their Apple Pear and Blackberry
wines are popular.
Their dessert wines - Blackberry port style, Iced Apple, Santa Rosa Plum and Iced Orin. The winery opened in 2008 producing award winning wines.
The Harkers own 18 acres of Tree Fruits and produce 1200 cases of wine. Look for their
fortified wine and dessert wines
Signature wines Santa Rosa Plum Dessert Wine, Mulberry Pear Port Style Wine and Fameuse Frizzante Sparkling Wine.
winemaker: Sara Harker
Philosophy: Minimalistic, I let the fruit speak for itself. I try to make any adjustments to the fruit eg pH, Sugar etc as natural as possible by blending varieties and ripeness to create an optimal flavor profile
Seven Stones Winery
1143 Hwy 3
Cawston, BC V0X 1C0
Hanson selected their location
as the valley has proven to be a quality site to grow wine grapes. An added bonus was the
spectacular scenery overlooking the picturesque Similkameen Valley. The wineries name embraces the history of the valley.
There are seven rock formations scattered throughout the Similkameen Valley known as the Seven Stones..each rock formation has a legend that is associated with it.
Seven Stones Winery cultivates 20 acres of bench land in the Similkameen River Valley. In 2000 and 2001 the estate vineyard was planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and followed up with a new planting of Petit Verdot. The winery opened in May 2007
The Winery produces 2800 cases per year and focuses on consistent quality
Signature wines include Syrah and Meritage
In 2013 the winery installed a cave cellar.
Winemaker: George Hanson
Philosophy: Using top quality materials along with sound winemaking practices we will make small lots that will bring the best out in our wines
620 Sumac Road
Cawston BC V0X 1C3
The wines are anchored on fruit from the 100-acre Blind Creek Vineyard, one of the most highly regarded vineyards in the Similkameen Valley.
Blind Creek, which was developed 10 or 12 years ago, is owned by Larry Lund (former owner of Okanagan Hockey School in Penticton) and his friend, businessman Ron Bell. These gentlemen, along with Penticton builder Jim Morrison, hold one-quarter interest in the Similkameen Collective. A quarter is owned by Road 13 and a quarter is owned by J-M. The final quarter is held by Vancouver wine merchant Brian Berry.
Currently The Collective s a virtual winery
Winemakers: J-M Bouchard
St. Laszlo Vineyards
Site 95 Comp 8
Keremeos, BC V0X 1N0
Located near Keremeos the winery has operated since 1978 under the direction
of Winemaker Joe Ritlop. The slopes of the river are home to St Lazlo's vineyards.
The wines are organically produced from the vine to the bottle. The wines have a full body style.
Grape varieties include Tokay, Perle of CsbaDe Chaunac and Verdelet
Icewines are produced too. The winery also produces some sensational tasting fruit wines.
grows Clinton and Interlaken, two American
labrusca hybrids found at no other winery in British Columbia. Joe Ritlop Jr., who manages the winery now, has added
Merlot, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to the vineyard
Winemaker: Joe Ritlop
Philosophy: I will create my own wine in my own fashion. I cannot do anything else. We can make
as good or better white wines here than any European Country.
Vanessa is owned by two Vancouver businessmen: real estate developer Suki Sekhon and retired stock broker John Welson.
They purchased the land in 2006. The vineyard sits on a hillside above Highway 3, south of Cawston. It is almost diagonally across the highway from the Seven Stones Winery.Vanessa Vineyard's grapes are cultivated on 75 acres of sloping, well drained, rocky terrain. The vines grow in rows of rocks, absorbing the day heat and imparting that warmth during the cooler nights. Planted in a west to southwest exposure, the rocky vineyard basks in the afternoon sun. Ideally situated, the vineyard benefits from a long growing season, with low yields of intensely ripe fruit. The unique stony site produces fruit with complex flavours and minerality that are truly distinctive.They use Andrew Peller LT to make the wines.
Currently, Vanessa produces about 3,000 cases a year. The vineyard would support 10,000 cases a year but the winery’s owners are in no rush to get there.
Based on the advice of respected vineyard developers Robert Goltz and Richard Cleave, a decision was made to fully commit to transforming the site into a vineyard dedicated exclusively to red wine grapes due to the Similkameen Valley’s favourable climate and the site’s ideal growing conditions. A team of advisors assisted in choosing the best clones and rootstock for our site based on its microclimate and terroir.
The major blocks, up to 20 acres each, are Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Vanessa Vineyard’s slogan is “carved from stone, fuelled by sun, a vineyard like no other.”
Winemaker: Howard Soon
Philosophy: Our vision is to produce only the highest quality grapes that reflect the terroir on which they grow and, in time, to become one of the best red sites in Canada. For the first five years we were exclusively grape growers, selling our high quality fruit to a select few wineries in British Columbia. In 2012, the decision was made to begin producing small quantities of premium wine. We hope that by using only 100% estate-grown fruit in the making of our wines that we can properly represent the Similkameen Valley and strengthen its reputation as what EnRoute Magazine calls one of the "world's five best wine regions you've never heard of “.
Vineglass Renewal Resort
306 Sumac Road
The winery owned by Jyl Chegwin and Rodger Hol is designed to be a destination Point . They combine the vineyards, wine experience with accommodations. The vineyard was planted so that a large wine wine glass design is visible.
The vineyards are planted with red in mind featuring, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a small block of Viognier
Winemaker: Rodger Hol
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