Princeton wine-lovers got the chance to try a dozen unique fruit-based wines from the Similkameen region at the eighth annual Rotary Wine Festival on the evening of March 3.
The fruity wine – along with traditional chardonnay, pinot gris, shiraz and merlot – were poured by wine makers who brought their best samples.
Apples, cherries, peaches, pear and apricots are added to the wine to give it a fruity, but not too sweet, flavour.
“I wanted to represent the region with my wines – to show a true Similkameen experience,” said Forbidden Fruit owner Steve Venables, as he poured Impearfection, an Asian Pear Desert wine with flavours of allspice, creme caramel, honey and tropical fruit.
Crushed Innocence – a white peach dessert wine – and Pomme Desiree – an iced apple desert wine – also stood on the table.
“We use fruit to show the sun and heat of the region in our wines,” Venables said.
His white peach desert wine does just that, with flavours of peach and passion fruit and hints of orange, he added.
The organic winery was the fifth to open in the region in 2005, and the number has since risen to 11.
Rustic Roots – another Similkameen fruit winery in Cawston – displayed wine made with Orin apples, pears, plums and apricots.
“We’re a generational farm, with six generations running the farm,” said the winery’s owner Bruce Harker.
The Harker Family settled in the Similkameen Valley in 1888, just 17 years after British Columbia became Canada’s sixth Province.
Over the last 120 years, the farm has hosted a dairy, cattle rearing, groundcrops and different fruit trees.
“Our mandate here on our multi generational farm is sustainability,” Harker said.
His Apple Pear wine is made with a blend of five varieties of organic apples and three varieties of organic Pears.
It has the aroma of crisp apples with a finish of pear, spice and herbs.
Rustic Root’s unique Plum Rose wine is made with five kinds of plums and has a slightly sweet front palate of candied strawberry and a boldly acidic finish of grapefruit and cranberry.
Wine from Hester Creek, Gheringer Brother’s, Nk’Mip Cellers, Jackson Triggs and other local wineries were also available for sampling, showing B.C. has sprung from a little-known wine-producing region to one that continuously wins major awards in competitions with U.S., Australia and old world wineries.
Forbidden Fruit and Rustic Routes both make table wine in addition to fruit wine.
Forbidden Fruit’s sauvignon blanc has flavours of exotic fruit like mango and guava, but is not as strong as the fruit wine, Venables said.
“We try to make all our wine as smooth and easy to drink as possible.”
Rustic Roots makes a sparkling wine using snow apples from a 100-year-old tree in the vineyard.
There are close to 200 wineries in B.C. with many of them in the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys.
Wine is also grown in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and, most recently, on the Gulf Islands, including Salt Spring, Pender, Saturna, Quadra and Bowen.
The Similkameen Valley is arid with persistent winds that reduce the moisture in the vines and soil. Much of the overhead irrigation water can evaporate before touching the ground.
The wind minimizes mildew, so vineyards don’t usually require frequent spraying.
Vineyards extend from Keremeos to Chopaka on the U.S. border.
Keremeos Vineyards – now called St. Laszio – was the first winery to open in the valley in 1984.