The Similkameen Valley

History

Vineyards extend from Keremeos to Chopaka on the US border. Keremeos Vineyards, now called St. Laszlo, was the first winery to open in the valley in 1984.

Location

The Similkameen Valley lies to the west of the southern Okanagan Valley; the Richter Pass connects them.

Climate

PARC notes that the average annual number of degree days from 1998 to 2003 was 1360. The Similkameen can be colder in winter than the Okanagan Valley because of the absence of a major lake to moderate the temperature. Due to the high mountains on both sides of the valley, and the reflective action of the rock, the heat is held in the valley long after the sun sets.

The valley is arid with persistent winds that can reduce the moisture in the vines and the soil. Much of the overhead irrigation water can evaporate before touching the ground. The wind does minimize mildew, so vineyards generally don’t require frequent spraying.

Soils

Various soil types, including stony, gravelly, and silty loams from glacial rock formation.

Topgraphy

A long narrow valley with steep mountainsides and an absence of major lakes.

Predominant varietals

Merlot (17 per cent), Gamay Noir (14 per cent), Pinot Noir (10 per cent), Cabernet Sauvignon (5 per cent), Cabernet Franc (7 per cent), Chardonnay (13 per cent), Pinot Blanc (7 per cent), Pinot Gris (7 per cent), and small amounts of Riesling and Gewurztraminer.