Similkameen Valley

Similkameen Valley

49° 12' N


119° 57' W




about this subregion

Nestled just west of the southern area of the Okanagan Valley region in British Columbia, Canada, the Similkameen Valley is a hidden gem renowned for its distinctive terroir and commitment to organic farming practices. This narrow, steep, and rocky valley, with its heart in the towns of Keremeos and Cawston, has been cultivating vineyards since as early as 1959, making it one of the pioneers in the Canadian wine scene.

While the Similkameen Valley shares a climate similar to its neighboring Okanagan Valley, it sets itself apart with one significant difference—there are no vast lakes to moderate its climate. This unique feature adds an extra layer of complexity to its viticulture.

What truly sets the Similkameen Valley apart are its soils, often rich in calcium carbonate, and the prevailing winds that sweep through the valley. These winds play a dual role, both keeping the vines clean and dry and preventing the intrusion of pests and diseases. Consequently, the Similkameen Valley proudly boasts the highest percentage of certified organic farms in all of Canada, reflecting a deep commitment to sustainable agriculture and producing wines that are not only of exceptional quality but also respectful of the environment.

In this rugged and picturesque landscape, wine lovers can savor the fruits of a pristine terroir and the dedication of winemakers who prioritize the land's well-being as much as the exceptional wines they produce. Today, the area is seeing a burgeoning wine industry and a boom in sunbelt-oriented recreation housing and property development.


vinerra illustration

Vineyard Hectares



1,600 - 2,000


Discover Terroir

Tucked away in the serene southern interior of British Columbia lies the Similkameen Valley, a hidden treasure trove for wine enthusiasts. Adjacent to the renowned Okanagan Valley, this picturesque region boasts its own distinct charm and allure, thanks in part to the meandering Similkameen River that winds through its heart, painting a breathtaking backdrop for the vineyards that grace its banks.

Amidst this natural splendor, organizations like the Wines of British Columbia association work tirelessly to champion the voices of the Similkameen Valley's dedicated winegrowers. Through advocacy and promotional efforts, they ensure that the unique contributions and exquisite wines of this region garner the recognition they deserve.

Similarly, the British Columbia Grape Growers Association stands as a steadfast advocate for the grape growers of the Similkameen Valley. Their unwavering support and advocacy initiatives help amplify the growers' voices and address their needs, fostering a thriving and sustainable wine industry within the region.

At the core of the Similkameen Valley's commitment to excellence lies the British Columbia Wine Authority, tasked with safeguarding the quality and authenticity of its wines. Through stringent standards and meticulous oversight, they uphold the region's reputation for producing exceptional wines that reflect the true essence of the land.

Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of British Columbia, the Similkameen Valley wine region unfurls a captivating story through its unique climate. Here, each element flows seamlessly into the next, creating the ideal canvas for crafting wines of depth and character.

With an abundance of sunshine, the Similkameen Valley revels in approximately 2,000 annual hours of radiant sun. This generous sunlight gently kisses the vineyards, ensuring a gradual, consistent ripening of grapes – an essential ingredient in crafting wines of depth and character.

Summers in this valley are characterized by warmth and often, outright heat. Daytime temperatures soar during the growing season, creating the ideal canvas for the expression of red grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The sun's intensity during these months intensifies the flavors and tannins in the grapes.

As the sun sets, the Similkameen Valley experiences a nightly coolness that gracefully blankets the vines. These refreshing evenings provide a welcome respite from the daytime warmth and play a crucial role in preserving the natural acidity of the grapes. This balance between sugar and acidity is instrumental in crafting wines of finesse.

The valley is known for its significant diurnal temperature variation – the dramatic shift between daytime and nighttime temperatures. This natural dance enriches the grapes, nurturing the development of aromatic complexities and a diverse spectrum of flavors.

The Similkameen Valley's arid environment, a result of its rain shadow location, means low annual precipitation. This aridity translates to lower risk of fungal diseases and pests, making it an ideal canvas for sustainable vineyard practices.

The symphony of abundant sunshine, warm days, cool nights, and low humidity creates the perfect setting for grape ripening. Winemakers can craft wines that authentically reflect the grape's character while preserving its inherent acidity.

Within the Similkameen Valley, microclimates abound. These microcosms, shaped by elevation, aspect, and proximity to the Similkameen River, offer a rich diversity. Winemakers can cultivate a broad range of grape varieties, from early-ripening whites to late-ripening reds.

In essence, the Similkameen Valley's climate is a harmonious, flowing narrative – a tale of sun, warmth, coolness, and dryness. It is a climatic masterpiece, allowing winemakers to compose wines that mirror the region's unique terroir with every sip.

The Similkameen Valley wine region stands out for its remarkable diversity of soils, each playing a pivotal role in shaping the wines that originate here.

  1. Alluvial Soils: Along the Similkameen River, alluvial soils reign supreme. These fertile, well-drained grounds teem with nutrients, providing an ideal bedrock for vineyards. They often yield wines that burst with lively, fruity nuances.
  2. Glacial Deposits: Certain pockets of the valley bear witness to glacial deposits, a medley of gravel, sand, and silt. These soils boast excellent drainage, fostering deep root growth and bestowing wines with impeccable structure and mineral character.
  3. Silt and Clay Loams: In particular regions, silt and clay loams take center stage. Their adept moisture retention makes them a reliable safeguard during dry spells. They offer a versatile canvas for various grape varietals, imparting a harmonious balance to the wines.
  4. Granitic Soils: High-altitude sites reveal granitic soils, rocky and free-draining. These grounds endow the wines with a distinctive mineral edge, often elevating their complexity.
  5. Sandy Soils: Sandy soils grace select vineyards, facilitating impeccable drainage and early warming as spring emerges. They tend to gift wines with a zesty acidity and prominent fruit expression.
  6. Schist and Slate: A handful of locales boast schist and slate soils, rendering a unique terroir signature to the grapes. These rocky terrains frequently yield wines that resonate with a profound sense of place and mineral finesse.
  7. Clay Soils: Specific enclaves within the valley feature clay soils, lauded for their moisture-retaining capacity. Wines hailing from these soils often embody a lush, full-bodied character.
  8. Limestone Deposits: Limestone deposits are treasured for their ability to heighten acidity and infuse wines with a flinty, mineral note. They are frequently associated with wines of exceptional quality.
  9. Bench Soils: The valley's benchlands present a mosaic of soil types, showcasing their versatility for an array of grape varieties. These soils add depth and complexity to the wines.

In the Similkameen Valley, this kaleidoscope of soils acts as a canvas, enabling winemakers to craft wines that authentically express the diverse terroir of this extraordinary wine region.


The Similkameen Valley in British Columbia, Canada, is distinguished by its unique landscape and variety of grape varieties. Its terrain, comprising a mix of sandy and rocky soils, alongside diverse microclimates, makes it a prime region for wine grape cultivation. Each grape variety here benefits from the specific conditions of the valley, contributing to their distinct characteristics.

  1. Merlot: In the Similkameen Valley's warmer zones, Merlot grapes prosper. They need a long, moderate growing season and perform best in sandy-loam soils that provide excellent drainage. Merlot vines are resilient, adapting well to temperature changes, though they prefer steady warmth.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon requires a warm climate and extended growing period. It thrives in the valley's hotter, drier regions, where ample sunlight and heat aid in developing its robust skins and tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon is suited to deep, gravelly soils.
  3. Cabernet Franc: Versatile in various climates, Cabernet Franc excels in the valley's slightly cooler areas. It needs a prolonged growing season for full ripening and prefers sandy or gravelly soils for optimal growth and drainage.
  4. Syrah: Syrah is best suited to the valley's warmest parts. It needs a long, hot growing season for flavor development and flourishes in stony or gravelly soils that retain heat.
  5. Pinot Noir: Favoring cooler climates, Pinot Noir is ideal for the valley's temperate regions. It requires a long but not overly hot growing season and thrives in well-drained sandy loam and clay loam soils.
  6. Gamay Noir: Adaptable to various conditions, Gamay Noir grows best in cooler parts of the valley. It benefits from a moderate climate and well-drained, sandy or loamy soil.
  7. Chardonnay: Chardonnay adapts to different climates but prefers the valley's cooler areas. It needs a long growing season and does well in limestone-rich, well-drained soils.
  8. Riesling: Suited for cooler, higher elevation areas, Riesling requires a cool, extended growing season. It prefers slate or rocky soils, which help in heat retention and reflection.
  9. Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris grows well in the valley's moderate zones, needing a long season to develop fully. It favors loamy and sandy soils for good drainage.

Each grape variety in the Similkameen Valley represents the unique synergy between the grape, soil, and climate, shaping the region's distinctive wine portfolio.

Nestled in British Columbia, the Similkameen Valley is famed for its diverse and exquisite wines, each reflecting the unique terroir of this picturesque Canadian wine region. The varied climate and rich soils here bestow each wine with distinct aromatic and flavor profiles, enticing both wine aficionados and casual enthusiasts.

  1. Merlot:  Merlot wine from the Similkameen Valley is characterized by a sumptuous texture and deep fruit flavors. Aromas of black cherry and plum meld with vanilla and spice undertones. On the palate, it's full-bodied and smooth, featuring ripe berry flavors with an earthy hint.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon: Known for its depth and complexity, Cabernet Sauvignon wine exudes scents of blackcurrant and dark cherry, intertwined with cedar and tobacco. Tasting reveals a robust structure and enduring finish, with dark fruit and spiced flavors dominating.
  3. Cabernet Franc: The Cabernet Franc here shines with bright fruit flavors and a spicy backdrop. It emits aromas of red berries and bell pepper, with a subtle herbal touch. The taste is medium-bodied, blending raspberry flavors with spicy and green notes.
  4. Syrah: Distinct for its boldness and spiciness, the valley's Syrah offers black pepper, smoked meat, and dark fruit aromas. The palate is rich and full, layered with dark berry, pepper, and occasional leather notes, leading to a strong finish.
  5. Pinot Noir: Esteemed for its finesse and depth, the region's Pinot Noir wine radiates aromas of strawberries, cherries, and earthy elements. It delivers a delicate yet layered taste, with a light to medium body, red berry notes, and a subtle earthy finish.
  6. Gamay Noir: Celebrated for its light, fruity essence, it features aromas of red berries and floral hints. The taste is refreshing and light, with strawberry and raspberry flavors, complemented by a mild earthy undertone.
  7. Chardonnay: Chardonnay wines from this region have a great balance between fruitiness and minerality. Aromas range from green apple and citrus to gentle oak. On the palate, it's creamy yet crisp, with apple, lemon, and vanilla flavors, culminating in a brisk finish.
  8. Riesling: Renowned for its aromatic vivacity and sharp acidity, it presents floral and apricot scents. The taste is lively, with a citrus and stone fruit profile, often marked by a mineral trace.
  9. Pinot Gris: Known for its aromatic allure and adaptability, it exudes pear, apple, and citrus aromas. The flavor is crisp and invigorating, with a medium body mirroring the fruity aromas and a clean end.

Each of these wines from the Similkameen Valley is a testament to the region's distinctive environment, offering a rich and varied collection that caters to a broad spectrum of taste preferences.