By Jordan Knox
Take a trip to an artisan winery and you will find more than what is in the bottle. The knowledge of what has gone into the bottle is more than just the pressed grapes that end up in your glass. The effort that goes into the farming of the grapes; working the soil, pruning the plants, and keeping them safe from pests and scavengers are all part of what can make or break a great wine.
While larger producers are painstaking and meticulous in their process, there is something about the smaller producers that translates through to the glass. Perhaps it is the fact that the care for each product can have serious effects on the financial viability of the winery as a business, or because smaller wineries have fewer hands impacting the final product, it tends to be a truer expression of what is coming off the vines.
Most B.C. wines come from four growing regions; The Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, The Similkameen Valley and the Okanogan Valley; each with its own characteristics and conditions for growing that make them diverse and special for their own reasons. If you are looking for a truly unique experience off the beaten path, Kamloops may be for you.
Most people will bypass Kamloops as a wine destination since the southern part of the Okanagan Valley (Kelowna/Penticton) boasts 173 wineries in a relatively small amount of space. However, the four wineries that occupy the territory to the north are well worth the trip, especially if you are trying to avoid the congested tasting rooms that are swamped and unable to provide personal service. The conditions in Kamloops are like many of the prized wine regions of France and Germany: the hot dry climate and rich mineral soil help to produce some fantastic wines. Many of the local wines are receiving national recognition, but with the small batches that are produced, you will rarely find them at your local liquor store, so you may need to make the trip to taste them.
Kamloops wine trail (www.kamloopswinetrail.com) is a partnership of businesses and wineries in the area that is committed to providing the best possible wine and vineyard experience to enthusiasts. Wineries like Harpers Trail are focusing on building relationships within the local community by participating in the local farmer’s market, showcasing other locally produced goods in their tasting room, and hosting “Wine Down Wednesdays” at the vineyard where guests can bring their own food or sample some of the locally featured artisan foods from the winery and enjoy the stunning views of the vineyard. The effort that they are putting into their community ties are far surpassed by the product that they are producing, taking gold at the All Canadian Wine Championships for their 2016 Pioneer Block Dry Riesling and their Rosé.
When most of us go to the liquor store we are used to seeing 10 to 20 B.C. wineries displayed, with the larger producers dominating the market. It is well worth the time to venture out to these boutique wineries to discover the hidden gems that they offer; to talk to the people involved in curating the wine, and perhaps share a glass of wine with the proprietor.
About the author:
Jordan Knox works at Northland Properties and is a General Manager in training at Moxie’s in Vancouver, B.C. With over 18 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Jordan has worked throughout North America and the Caribbean with industry-leading companies. He received his diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management from SAIT Polytechnic in 2000 and is a lifelong student of the food and beverage industry, always looking for what new trends are emerging.