Wine touring is all about meeting your expectations. The chance to breeze through the vineyards in wine country as you seek and sip your favorite bottles. If you are looking for a lively wine touring experience filled with grand showcase wineries, majestic lake views, quaint gift shops, and opulent destination resorts, then keep moving down Route 3 to the Okanagan. There’s nothing like that in this valley.
Welcome to the Similkameen Valley. Forget about Starbucks, there aren’t even traffic lights in this part of the world. The focus here is on living a natural lifestyle. It’s not hard to forget about natural since it literally towers over you in this deep and extremely scenic valley.
It is in Cawston, in the most southerly region of the Similkameen that John and Virginia Weber have chosen to build their winery, Orofino. Crafting mostly single-vineyard variety-based wines along with a blend or two, the emphasis at Orofino has been quality. The roster of growers, many of whom are also neighbors, are luckily in simpatico with their desire to create intense, complex, age-worthy, and tasty wines. The relationship between grower and vintner can be tricky waters to navigate because each may have different goals in mind regarding quality and quantity. Orofino has managed to create a spectacular lineup of wines with their growers because the focus extends beyond the simple goal of selling products. The goal here is great wine made in a great community. The relationships in this region are evidently stronger than the need to be competitive.
Evidence of this comes through even in the best of times. When I sat down with John Weber in mid-February, it was just days before Orofino’s Syrah 2009 took home the gold medal as the top wine at the Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna on February 11th. In a Similkameen Wineries Association press release soon after, John thanked the growers of the winning Syrah, Murray and Maggie Fonteyne of Cawston’s Scout Vineyard “for their terrific work in growing these grapes for us.” When one wins, everyone wins. Welcome to the Sim.
Wines Tasted in this podcast:
Pinot Noir 2009
Passion Pit Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
(EXCLUSIVE! If you listen very carefully, John will mention a special new wine to be released this coming spring! You heard it here first!)