By Susan Lundy
We are sitting at a picnic table in a lush, grassy setting at Monte Creek Winery near Kamloops.
Rows of vines climb the hill at our backs and, looking forward, we can see the South Thompson River weaving its path through the valley.
We have tasted a wealth of wines, from a crisp, sparkling rosé to the creamy Hands Up white and the winery’s signature blueberry wine. Like the wines at Harper’s Trail winery – our first stop in this Kamloops-area wine tour – the reds are delicious, but it’s the whites that truly show off the region’s unique flavours.
Recognized as an official wine region in 2018, the Thompson Valley is home to one of the northernmost vinifera growing areas. The most commonly planted grapes in this region are Riesling, Marquette, Maréchal Foch and Chardonnay. In this wine region—nestled amid the North and South Thompson rivers—well-drained soils rich in mineral content have resulted in white wines that are bright, crisp and aromatic, as well as fruit-forward reds. The flavours are unique to this region and it’s easy to see the difference between wines here and those in the nearby Okanagan region.
According to the Wines of BC website: “On the edge of cool climate viticulture, Thompson Valley wineries are pioneering an exciting new region and expanding the boundaries of quality BC winemaking. [In this area], the rain shadow of the high coastal mountains, the semi-arid conditions and diverse microclimates provide many creative options for our winemakers to shine.”
With four wineries covering six vineyards and 120 acres under vine, the growing wine industry in the Thompson Valley is winning provincial, national and international awards.
At Harper’s Trail, located right on the banks of the South Thompson River, we tasted the vintages of the area’s first winery (established in 2012), seated on the patio, with hoodoos and rolling hills of sage and antelope brush behind us. The wines were all excellent, and we couldn’t resist purchasing bottles of the sparkling Chardonnay and pinot noir.
Back at Monte Creek, it was time to tuck into dinner. In addition to its excellent wine, Monte Creek – Kamloops’ largest winery – features seasonal al fresco patio dining at The Terrace Restaurant or at the (pet-friendly) picnic tables where we sat. The menu is extensive and we savoured the cuisine along with the selection of wine samples. Ultimately, we bought bottles of red and white, the blueberry wine and a haskap berry liquor.
More purchases occurred the next day, after sampling the vintages at Privato Vineyard & Winery, which has a to-die-for selection of pinot noir and premium-quality, single-vineyard Burgundy wines. This boutique winery, which crafts wine in small batches and distributes to a small selection of restaurants and wine aficionados, is set on an eight-acre Christmas tree farm, and the patio – where we enjoyed a generously portioned charcuterie plate – is set amid a lush garden setting. A stop here should include a walk through the gardens and vines.
The fourth and final winery in the Thompson Valley wine region is Sagewood, a familyowned-and-operated boutique vineyard. While we ran out of time to visit Sagewood on this tour, it’s high on our to-do list for when we return.
On our wine tour, we were able to split our winery visits up and enjoy sipping and savouring over a few days. But those who wish to do a one-day tour have the opportunity of embarking on the journey with DiVine Tours. Specializing in groups of two to 22, the tour company is based out of Kamloops, but also provides wine and brew tours in the Shuswap, Lake Country, Kelowna, Summerland and Naramata regions.
– This story is reprinted from SOAR Magazine, the in-flight magazine for Pacific Coastal Airlines.
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