Wine Region Boom: New Wineries to Check Out in Oliver, B.C.
4 amazing up-and-coming wineries from the Okanagan's newest hot wine region, Oliver.
Listen, we know there are plenty of places to enjoy a glass of wine in the Okanagan (and plenty of Okanagan bottles available in your local liquor store, even when you’re stuck at home). But somehow, the region keeps finding new spaces to expand—and right now, sleepy Oliver is the hot spot for growth. New wineries are popping up rapidly, run by some of the community’s most passionate people: adorable families opening the tasting room they’ve always dreamed of; seasoned winemakers experimenting with a space of their own; and growers making the move from the fields to the cellar.
A tour of these four new and soon-to-open spaces makes for the perfect side trip for you Kelowna weekend, or if you’re interested in staying closer to the action, set up shop in nearby Osoyoos at the desert-chic Spirt Ridge Resort. Visiting in May? The Oliver Osoyoos 18km Half-Corked Marathon hits up 15 different winery tasting stations, so it’s your chance to taste test many of these up-and-comers alongside the old pros (ideally while wearing some sort of ridiculous costume).
4 New Wineries to Explore in Oliver, BC
Vin Perdu means “lost wine,” a nod to the fact that the vines that sprawl beyond the patio have toiled in animosity for 17 years, their grapes quietly supplementing a variety of wines by big-name producers in the Valley. Now, though, they’re getting a chance to shine for the first time, in small batches under a brand of their very own. Pull up one of the industrial stools to the tasting bar, or take a glass out onto the sprawling patio: either way, savour your time here. It’s run by a sweet family from Montreal who get hands-on, serving up elegant bites alongside your tasting flight and chatting cheerfully about new venture. (One of the daughters, Nathalie Coulombe, is even responsible for the vibrant abstract landscape paintings that add a pop of colour and modernism to the clean, farmhouse-style space.) Opened April 2015.
Try: The 2014 Gamay Noir. Beautiful strawberry aromas and notes of nutmeg and cinnamon.
For 35 years, Michael Bartier has been buying grapes and making wine at Okanagan Crush Pad under his Bartier Bros. brand (and winning awards for it), but it’s only just this summer that he’ll have a tasting room and production facility of his own. Though it’s currently under construction, it’s shaping up to be a minimalist, DIY space, with Bartier acting as construction manager, vinaculturalist and all-around visionary. “An architect friend once told me, smart architecture is what a dog would figure out,” he laughs. “In this climate, that means building something that offers shade and comfort.” The plan is for a bright, open, simple, airy space with pergolas and overhangs that’s “a tribute to thrift.” It’s the wine itself that gets most of Bartier’s attention—he’s a firm proponent of the unique minerality the Okanagan terroir brings to wines here. “The calcium carbonate limestone in the soil gives our wine its fingerprint. Wine should taste like it comes from somewhere.” Opening July 2015.
Try: The 2013 Semillon. Super refreshing; think cirtus and apricot alongside a beautiful minerality.
The Oliver wine industry appears to be a family affair, and Kismet is no exception—the Gill family immigrated to the Okanagan in the ’90s and have been growing grapes in the region since, but it was only last May they decided to try their hand in selling wine for themselves. Now, the Gills’ expertise and knowledge of the grapes and the land shine through in every bottle. “I want, at the end of the day, to make a wine that I like,” says son Deepinder, who traded in his day job as an accountant for a turn at being the family winemaker. Opened May 2014.
Try: The 2013 Viognier. Floral, fruity and crisp—what’s not to love?
Though Time will be the latest winery on the block when it opens next spring, it’s hardly a newcomer to the scene: it’s backed by a team of wine-country veterans, including Harry McWatters (founder of Sumac Ridge and See Ya Later Ranch) and industry leaders Bob Wareham and Dick Cleave. These are the people who brought meritage to Canada, and who run Sundial Vineyard, the single most awarded vineyard in the Okanagan, so it’s a pretty good bet they know what they’re doing with this new project. The inaugural Time vintage was released in 2011, and it lives up to the hype; the only disappointment is that the planned 25,000 square foot winery won’t be open until spring. Plans include a champagne vault, an underground barrel centre, regular food events, and four exclusive suites so visitors can stay close to the action. “It was just time to follow through with our dream,” says McWatters. Opens May 2016.
Try: The 2013 Meritage White. The sauvignon blanc and Semillon blend—a wash of honeydew, gooseberry and pear—features touches of oak, too.