The Similkameen Shines
May 12, 2008 by Sheila Whittaker
As the largest appellation in British Columbia, a lot of attention is given to the wine of the OkanaganValley. An Okanagan girl myself, born and raised in Osoyoos, I am usually the first to sing the praises of the area.
But the ‘little sister’ of the OkanaganValley, the SimilkameenValley, doesn’t get nearly as much attention as she deserves. It’s about 50 kilometres closer to Vancouver than Osoyoos or Penticton. Some of the Okanagan’s tastiest wine is sourced from Similkameen grapes, yet many people have never heard of the place.
Keremeos is a “big city” of the Similkameen with a population of 1,200. Some Similkameen natives translate the name to ‘the creek that cuts’ and the SimilkameenRiver still runs through the narrow flats of the valley and allows for beautiful views against the backdrop of the steep, high mountains. The heat from these rock faces makes the most of the summer sun by radiating warmth after sunset. The winds though the valley help to reduce moisture in the vines and the soil.
Keremeos and Cawston have long been known for fruit growing – especially organic. There are more fruit stands in Keremeos than any other growing area in Canada. Places that grow good fruit are top bets to grow good grapes. This area is no exception.
During the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival, we rushed to the Naramata bench with the rest of the crowds. Then we stumbled into the shadow of the Okanagan and discovered some fabulous wineries shining in the Similkameen.