Podcast #29 – Geology in the Okanagan with Tim Watts of Kettle Valley

Why do we have such spectacular scenery in the Okanagan’s wine country? How did it get like this and why doesn’t it look like other valleys in BC? The Okanagan is one of BC’s biggest geological features but with an extremely violent past. I talk with Tim Watts, a geologist-turned-winemaker at Kettle Valley Winery, who explains a little about some of the distinctive features that make the Okanagan valley what it is and how it affects the wines in your glass.

If you are interested in more geology of BC and the Okanagan Valley, there is a website called Geoscapes.ca by Dr. Murray A. Roed from Kelowna. He has also published a book called “Okanagan Geology.”

Other books that I also recommend are “Roadside Geology of Southern British Columbia” by Bill Mathews and Jim Monger and “In Search of Ancient British Colombia” by Barbara Huck.  

Also, briefly mentioned in this podcast is the ice dam that created Glacial Lake Missoula in western Montana. This ice dam repeatedly burst and reformed over thousands of years, each time creating a deluge of water (imagine 9 cubic miles of water per hour moving over 70 km/h) that literally ripped up the land in Washington State. The great wine growing regions of Washington State and the Willamette Valley in Oregon have this event to thank for their unique terroir.

If reading and clicking just aren’t enough, you can book a real Geology Adventure in the Okanagan.

View of the Naramata cliffs from Munson Mountain. Naramata Road runs along the coast about half way up the cleared slope.

Summerland from Munson Mountain. Gaint's Head the 'sheep rock' sloped peak on the near left would have made up part of the side of the ancient volcano.

Silt cliffs would have been under the waterline of the glacial Lake Penticton. These cliffs are easy to see on the highway between Summerland and Penticton.

The ice dam that created Glacial Lake Penticton probably ocurred here at the narrowest part of the valley. MacIntyre Bluff is the dark cliff on the right.

Closer look at the cliff face of MacIntyre Bluff. It is striking to see when driving Highway 97 south towards Oliver. Directly behind it is Covert Farms which is home to the Dunham and Froese Winery.