Kamloops - BC's Newest Wine Region
Prior to contacting British Columbia Wine Institute I had not even heard of Kamloops and had no idea of the infancy of this new wine region in terms of production. The region has four family owned wineries and cellar doors (one of them opening only two weeks ago) and the vines are very young. The Kamloops / Thompson Region is the most northerly area within in B.C. Wine Country, enjoying more than 2,000 hours of sunshine annually with some of the warmest temperatures in Canada during the growing season.
Trish Morelli, representative from Kamloops Wineries Association kindly put together a tour for our visit last Saturday, 4th July 2015. We started the day at Monte Creek Ranch Estate Winery, a brand new cellar door, winery and function centre open just on two weeks. Impressive from the moment we arrived, our visit was enhanced by the genuine warm greeting from Erik Fisher who took us on a tour and hosted a tasting of their current release wines.
We then headed straight to Harper’s Trail Estate Winery, to find out more about the oldest winery in this young and emerging wine region. Owners Vicki & Ed Collett and manager Carrie Neal greeted us warmly and shared information on the history of the area and the motivation behind their winery. Once the tasting began it became immediately clear that their vineyard site is very special with natural acid and minerality a feature of their aromatics.
Our final visit to Privato Vineyard and Winery was a great end to the day, meeting Desiray & Mark at the cellar door and spending time in their cellar door and boutique barrel hall. This visit was a highlight for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the region and the only comparison from our whole BC wine experience would be Quails Gate for these two varieties, which is on a much bigger scale and budget. Both the whites and reds were brilliant and I had to remind myself of the young vines that produced such lovely wine.
If I had to pick one wine from each winery that really caught my attention, the selection is below:
- Monte Creek Ranch Estate Winery – 2014 Hands Up White
- Harper’s Trail Estate Winery – 2012 Pioneer Block Riesling
- Privato Vineyard – 2011 Woodward Collection Pinot Noir
I should mention Sagewood Winery that unfortunately we were not able to visit, however this provides one of many reasons to come back to Kamloops in the future. We are taking our maximum quota (a mere 2.25 litres each) back to Australia but have spent four weeks enjoying just British Columbia wine, working our way through an array of whites, rosé and reds and truly enjoying every bottle.
My take home impression of Kamloops is an emerging wine region with passion, energy, enthusiasm and family operated wineries. There are some truly delightful whites and the reds show varietal definition but need further vine age and oak exploration to really hit their straps and match the quality of the whites. For such a young region, Kamloops is already giving the Okanagan Valley a run for its money and with changes to a few wine laws in Canada hopefully more consumers will be exposed to these wines in the near future. Maybe one day some of these wines will be available in Australia!