Not just Okanagan wine: sub-region celebrates uniqueness

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Okanagan Falls celebrates special wine status – Apr 10, 2019

From the northern tip of Skaha Lake to the rolling hills above Vaseux Lake to the south, the Okanagan Falls wine region in the South Okanagan is thankful for what the retreating ice age left behind.

“When the glacier came through and formed the valley, it managed to move silt one way and rocks another, so each vineyard can have a completely different expression of wine,” said Okanagan Falls Winery Association coordinator Shawna Thompson.

Thompson and 14 Okanagan Falls area wineries were showing off the latest wine releases from their region on Tuesday at a trade show in Kelowna.

The glacier-formed mountains cradle the valley and lakes below and remain full of fertile soil, she said, and are bathed in sunshine to create unique flavours.

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Experts call unique growing conditions “terroir.”

“You could have a chardonnay from this vineyard and a chardonnay from that vineyard and they’ll taste completely different,” Thompson said of terroir within their community.

In 2018, the B.C. Wine Authority gave Okanagan Falls their own sub-region designation.

Oliver’s Golden Mile was the first local region to get appellation status.

The other regions within the Okanagan Valley  — Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland, Summerland, Naramata, Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos — are expected to be recognized within the years to come.

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“It’s going to take us many decades before we find all the best growing areas within the valley,” Wild Goose Winery owner Roland Kruger said.

Okanagan Falls vineyards benefit from warm, sunny days that are cooled off from air currents that sweep down the steep mountains on either side of the community, he said.

“Being on the east side of the valley, we literally get the maximum amount of sunshine that Mother Nature can give us, particularly in the really late day and helps to ripen our fruit,” he said.

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“Having all that sun really allows our grapes to ripen and get really good maturity.”

While Skaha Lake area wineries are currently included in the Okanagan Falls designation, they may get further sub-region status this year, Kruger said.

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