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Planning your BC Wine Tour
Similkameen Valley: Cawston & Keremeos
Common varieties grown: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay Average Daily High Temperature July: 29C Average Hours of Sunshine: 2600 Average Annual Rainfall: 256 mm Acreage: 800 Soil: Stony, gravelly, and silty loams
The Similkameen Valley may be best known for its plentiful orchards as the “Fruit Stand Capital of Canada,” but it may surprise people that wine has been made here since 1984. In fact, Enroute magazine once named it “One of the top 5 wine regions you have never heard of.” The valley with its steep mountains, that trap the heat, and blustery climate, that keeps its vineyards disease and pest free, is known for producing quality grapes, much of which are organic. Today, there are 16 wineries capitalizing on these ideal conditions. Mostly concentrated in the Keremeos-Cawston area, they are capable of creating aromatic whites to deep, bold reds. The unique soil in which the grapes grow contributes to the complexity of the wines produced here. The land was once covered by glaciers and their retreat formed alluvial fans and resulted in soil high in calcium carbonate that lend wines desirable minerality. To raise awareness about the Valley’s wines and ciders, producers recently formed their own association known as the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers. The Similkameen also offers scores of accessible fishing lakes along with the remote backcountry terrain of Cathedral Provincial Park, a major attraction to adventure seekers looking for unparalleled experiences and breathtaking views. History buffs will be drawn to the old frontier-like atmosphere and landscape. The lifeblood of the region is the Similkameen River which cuts a swath through the valley, raging in the spring and turning tranquil in the summer. It is a major draw for tubing, fly fishing and even gold panning.