Podcast 128 – BCWine 101 Okanagan Falls

20130218-203437.jpgWelcome to BC Wine 101, where I will focus in on a different wine region in each episode. This is for anyone who is interested in learning about BC wine but with a particular nod to the wine bloggers who will be traveling to Penticton for the Wine Bloggers Conference coming up in June.

You can listen online here or download our podcast on iTunes.

Okanagan Falls (or as the locals call it, OK Falls) has a wide variety of wineries and scenery. Some of my all-time favourite BC wines come from this region. The Okanagan Falls Winery Association represents the marketing and promotional needs of the majority of wineries in this region and in this podcast, I speak with marketing and events coordinator Kristin Peturson-Laprise about what makes Okanagan Falls so special.

MacIntyre Bluff and Vaseaux Lake, looking south.

MacIntyre Bluff and Vaseaux Lake, looking south.

Here are the wineries in Okanagan Falls to remember:

Blasted Church
Blue Mountain Vineyards
Kraze Legz
Liquidity Wines
Meyer Family Vineyards
Noble Ridge
Painted Rock
Pentage
See Ya Later Ranch
Stag’s Hollow
Synchro Mesh
Tangled Vines
Top Shelf
Wild Goose Winery

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I have had some amazing experiences in the wineries and vineyards of Okanagan Falls. My first wine touring experience ever brought me to Okanagan Falls in 2003 where I learned a little more about how to taste wine in a wine shop from an awesome host at Hawthorn Mountain Vineyards (now See Ya Later Ranch). My first job in a winery as a cellar hand was in OK Falls. I have interviewed many winery owners and wine makers for this podcast and other media. It is a place that I truly enjoy visiting any time I can.

There are both long established family-run wineries and historical vineyards there alongside newly built boutique wineries that are creatively following their own vision. It’s a very dynamic region where you will find rich and bold Merlot’s at one winery, beautifully aromatic whites at the one next door, and unbelievable sparkling wine just around the corner. Far from being scattered, this area represents the diverse Okanagan wine experience in microcosm, where the drive, passion, science, and creative artistry all meet at the south end of Skaha Lake.

Cheers from wine country,

~Luke

Painted Rock

The vineyards of Painted Rock Estate Winery from the west side lookout above Skaha Lake.

North to OK Falls

Looking north from above Vaseaux Lake. Hawthorn Mountain is on the left. Blue Mountain is behind the bluff on the right and Noble Ridge is center.

4 thoughts on “Podcast 128 – BCWine 101 Okanagan Falls

  1. I think it is interesting that you started here because in many ways it is the middle ground. Northern vineyards weakness shows during cold years and southern vineyards can be overwhelmed by heat. OK Falls always seems to do well if the right varieties are planted: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir types of fruit that ripen at 1200-1300 degree days.

    It is still risky to plant Merlot, Cab Franc and even Viognier here. You have to have a great micro-climate to attempt this. It can be argued that Painted Rock is doing this…. but personally I’d stick with safer bets.

    Year after year Okanangan Falls has something to offer because it never seems to get too hot or too cold.

    Almost ALL of favorite wineries are here.

    Meyer Family Vineyards are a heavyweight in terms of quality Burgundy.
    Wild Goose delivers awesome value based and hyper-fruity Gew.
    Syncromesh has unbelievable Riesling/Gew.
    Pentage was listed as Winery of the Year and has awesome Viognier and Gew
    Blue Mountain has my favorite sparkling wine. I think they are fantastic Viticulturalists. Their Pinot Noir ages very well. I had a 10 year old Gamay that was unbelievable.

    The rest of the wineries are as good as anybody else in the valley… they just aren’t my absolute favorites.

    • Thanks for the great comment Andrew! To be honest, it was scheduling that allowed this to be the first podcast in the series but I’m glad that it was OK Falls to go first. When I was chatting with Kristin, it dawned on me that there are so many heavy hitting boutique wineries within the collection of wineries in OK Falls and that they all do exceptional things in exceptionally different terroirs.

      I’m with you on the varietal thing too. Painted Rock’s vineyards, with the western aspect, gentle slope, proximity to the lake, and that split between the mountains on the opposite side of the lake that allows them to have sunlight until 9:20pm in the summer, has the right place for the grapes that they are trying to grow. See Ya Later gets some later light too (I’ve got photos of that somewhere – very interesting) but with their north-eastern slope and elevation, it’s great for Gewürztraminer. I really enjoy how one winery has a particular terroir while the one down the road has something completely different. There’s so much diversity in one place.

      Is there any other place in BC where that happens with the same quality? Any other place in the world?

      • I think that every site has a strength and a weakness. Obviously elevation is a plus in cold climates because there are more sunshine hours. More photosynthesis is always a good thing.

        To me… Ok falls is a bit disrespected and I am glad that they finally have a collective marketing team. I think this are does great wine… But the town us under developed and lives under the shadow of Penticton.

        In Naramata I can only think of two or three vineyards I actually want to visit (Van Westen the and La Frenz).
        I think the Similkameen is doing interesting things…

        Kelowna is limited in degree days (but closer to a major airport and transportation routes).

        Oliver has some value driven high production wineries. I do like riverstone reds and Fairview maybe.

        Oddly I haven’t tried a lot of boutique wines from Osoyoos. It’s a really powerful grape growing region but it seems like all the fruit is trucked to other wineries to fill out their portfolios. Moon Curser kind of has a silly name but their wines are unique and they have a brave viticulture team. These wines shouldn’t grow in the okanagan and if I visited their vineyards I wonder how uniform ir would be? Perhaps they have a potential to grow?

        Of all the wineries I like the Ok falls collection the best.

        I overlooked the Summerland wineries… And they are fun but I don’t think the wines compete. Summerland with Ok falls IMHO. Summerland is 1000 times more cute to visit though.

        I’ve only worked with glacial till at work and loam/silt at home. From the sounds of it… And growing in clay sounds tricky. The soils at Liquidity are awesome from a nutrition perspective Wines. Not a lot of hoops to jump through.

        There a plus’ and minus’ in all regions. Ok falls has good sites, smart owners, and the start of a good marketing campaign but no hotels, restaurants, fancy coffee shops, marina, etc.

        Otoh… This makes land prices a little lower. Also the ownership groups are hungry, motivated, and have a chip on their shoulder.

      • No fancy coffee shops in OK Falls, true. But there is Tickleberries!!

        I’m glad that this turned out so well and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what each region has to offer. I think that each place has something different and unique to offer the world of BC wine. Hopefully the bloggers attending the WBC13 in Penticton will be able to become familiar with some of the wineries before they arrive.

        More to come…

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