- 12 Licensed Wineries
- Top Varietals Planted: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay
- 1984: 1st winery opened
- 691 acres planted
Oft called “one of the world’s 5 best wine regions you’ve never heard of,” this was to be a trip into authenticity and potentiality; a drive under the radar; an excursion into the realm of the best-kept secret, a chance to experience a concentration of passion centralized around a small but fiercely loyal coterie of spirited wine producers committed to an utterly singular sub-microclimate mastering desert heat and deploying clay and limestone soils in the service of an elegant, sophisticated country style.
I took the “Vineyard & Geology” bus.
THEME: Vineyards and Geology
Fitness level: light; some areas accessible by stairs only
Extras required: none
Head to the hills (and mountains and the river) and explore what makes our special little wine region so very special. Meet the winemakers of these family-run boutique wineries, and learn about the unique geology, terroir and environmental differences that help create the award-winning wines of this region.
Discover an area that is known for its commitment to the sustainability of the land and the organic focus of their grape and fruit wines. On this tour, you will have the opportunity to explore a BC Heritage Site and you will head underground for an earthy, down-to-earth dinner with wine tastings while you visit with the winemakers of this boutique wine region.
Destination One: The Mill. The Grist Mill. There to see an 1877 waterwheel in action. An early establishment of country authenticity on a trip that would be ripe with it. As well to taste Orofino champys; perfect.
Destination Two: Seven Stones. Named for the legendary seven stones that infuse the valley’s spiritual core, Seven Stones was to be our host for tours, tastings, and dinners.
And host they did, and hosts they were.
As were the following:
George Hanson, the owner of Seven Stones, and the current President of the Similkameen Wineries Association, was our Master of Ceremonies; as fine a host as one could hope to have.
Whether in the vineyard …
Or the cellars …
George and his fellow wine producers were down to earth, humble, hospitable, gracious, wise, dedicated, and above all else, giving. Such kindnesses we received.
As it turned out, we were to debut the new caves as an event space. When we first came underground, our voices echoed down the corridor towards one lone figure backlit in the eerie and beatific distance: Chef Chris Van Hooydonk.
Who prepared for us a truly extraordinary menu.
So the candles were lit, the first wines were poured …
and we dined …
With the best of The Similkameen in our glasses …
Finally, what else to be done? Nothing but an ovation …
Emerging from the caves, one last look at the land as it curled in under the coming dusk …
And it was done.
The Similkameen. Long may you run, long may we appreciate you.