Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Okanagan ~ Oliver, B.C. ~ Wine Capital of Canada

Oliver, BC is our RV’ing home base for work for a few months which also makes for an easy drive to several beautiful locations in the Okanagan Valley of southern B.C. for the play part of RVing.   There are several places within less than an hour drive that will thrill the senses and offer many photo opportunites, which I admit I try to fulfill as often as I can.

                                                   The welcome sign of Oliver, BC

Oliver is located about 40 km. north of the US border and has a population of about 4500 people.  It has earned the title of the Wine capital of Canada because it now produces 10% of the nations wine, including many of its finest vintages. 

Vineyards across the Okanagan Valley
 Glacial deposits formed the west bench during the ice age.  The west side of the valley seen in the distance across the valley is called the Golden Mile.  The deep sandy deposits on the east bench, which is where this photo was taken from, is Black Sage.  This combination provides an award winning wine industry.

Vineyards on the east side of Okanagan valley
There are 27 different wineries that include 100 vineyards along Highway 97 and the backroads passing through Oliver that make up 53% of BC’s vineyard acreage. 
A number of wineries open their doors for complimentary tours of their facility.  It makes for a great day tour, whether you take a self guided tour or sign up with a wine tour company that will drive you around as well as share their knowledge of the wine industry.

The grapes on the vine in Oliver, BC
The temperature for ice wine grapes must reach -10C (14F) before the grapes can be picked and I am told that it will usually happen at night when workers are called out.  They gather to circle their vehicles around the chosen vines to shine their headlights and the grapes can then be harvested.

Cleaning the vats at the winery in the Okanagan
These fermenting stainless steel vats were being cleaned during my recent visit to the winery to purchase gifts for those special wine drinkers.   I purchased ice wines, which are a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. 

    The propane exploder in the vineyards in Oliver, BC

I was standing at the side of the quiet road taking pictures of these beautiful acres of vines when I almost hit the ground to take cover from what sounded like a gunshot blast. I knew I wasn’t trespassing but it sure did make me nervous until I figured out what was happening. While you get that chuckle under control, I will explain further.
Birds can be a serious problem in the vineyards. They can destroy the crops and steps must be taken to prevent that from happening. Some vines are wrapped in order to prevent the birds from getting to the grape, shown in the picture of the grapes and another method used is the propane exploder. I found the culprit and took this picture.

Festival of the Grape
There are several festivals and events in the South Okanagan but one of the very favorites is the Festival of the Grape in Oliver.  The 14th annual festival was recently held and the crowds were there to enjoy the festivities that include activities for the kids, as well.  There were over 50 wineries gathered onsite, vendors with handcrafted clothing, wine & kitchen accessories, gourmet food items, an art show and sale, games, live entertainment and a grape stomp which may well be worth the price of admission alone.
The Okanagan Valley has so much more than vineyards to offer and I am anxious to bring more to show you.  Watch for the incredible autumn colors of their orchards in following pages.


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