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Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country: Uncork the Sun

by on April 24, 2013

In the southernmost part of the Okanagan Valley lies Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country, where the summer sun is said to shine more than anywhere else in British Columbia.

The region extends from the southernmost point of Osoyoos (at the U.S. border) to the tip of basalt-faced McIntyre Bluff north of Oliver. From rolling vineyards to the glacier-sculpted faces of the bordering mountains, the land and the people that farm it make this region a beautiful and diverse place to visit.

Climate wise, it is warm in Oliver Osoyoos; in fact its warmer there than anywhere in Canada. The sun shines for more than 240 hours each month between May and August, with even more light intensity than California’s Napa Valley.  Daily summer temperatures average 29C (84F) and climb as high as 40º (104F).

Oliver Osoyoos has three distinct benches: the loamy east-facing bench of the Golden Mile, the sandy west-facing Black Sage Bench, and the sun-soaked Osoyoos Lake Bench. The extreme desert climate, providing long hot days and cool nights, along with multiple elevations and contours, create microclimate pockets that allow a vast range of grape varieties to flourish. Many of the wineries here produce small lots allowing for a lot of exploration by the wine lover

Once home to prolific fields of cantaloupe, Oliver Osoyoos’ first vines were planted in the 1970s. A selection of hybrids, but also vinifera like Riesling and Schonberger, were early test subjects. Some of these vines remain, but most hybrids have been replaced. The region’s journey of self-discovery really began in the early 1990s, and today there are more than 5,100 acres under vine, dozens of varieties planted, and over 28 wineries.

This part of the Okanagan Valley is devoted to agriculture of all kinds, but it is a diversity of grapevines that especially thrive in the dry desert climate. Here you will find fresh aromatic whites are grown within a mile of bold, ripe Syrahs and Cabernet Sauvignon. The top planted varieties in our vineyards are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Riesling, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir also thrive here as well as Tempranillo in the Osoyoos Lake Bench and even Ehrenfelser in the Golden Mile region.

Oliver Osoyoos Wine Region is a sponsor of this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference, and they are inviting the WBC13 bloggers to experience their region. They will be hosting some cool events during the conference so bloggers will get to experience Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country firsthand – and Uncork the Sun.