Okanagan Valley

In an effort to shed some light on how I study for WSET Diploma Course’s D3 exam, Le Club des Vins is running a series of posts covering wine regions. Today’s topic: Okanagan Valley.

okanagan valley wine

In a nutshell

  • Largest wine region of British Columbia
  • Okanagan river, vineyards on both sides
  • 250 km long stretch
  • North: upper limit of viticulture
  • South: desert-like climate
  • Whites: chardonnay, pinot gris, gewurztraminer
  • Red: merlot, pinot noir and syrah

📍 Location

Okanagan Valley is the largest wine region of British Columbia, Canada. It is a 250km long stretched valley running from north to south. The Okanagan river runs all the way through and vineyards are planted at both sides of the river. The valley is protected from any maritime influence by a huge mountain range at the east side that creates a rain shadow. The vineyards are planted around 300-600m above sea level to reduce the risk of spring frosts. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

☁️ Climate

There is a range of climates in the valley. The climate is very continental, ranging from -20C in the winter to 40C degrees in the summer. There is a big difference between north and south, due to the long stretched valley.

The northern part is situated at the northerly limit of viticulture, has more loam in the soil and is perfect for cool climate varieties. Whereas in the south the conditions are the complete opposite, with an extreme desert-like (continental) climate and sandy soils. In the south, organic farming is easy due to low fungus and disease pressure, although irrigation is necessary. The bodies of water, from the Okanagan river and some smaller ones, cause for some moderation of the climate.⠀

🍇 Grapes & style⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer are the most planted white grape varieties, alongside Pinot Noir and Merlot in the cooler north part of the region.

In the south, in the for example Osoyoos region, are predominantly planted with Bordeaux varieties. These wines usually have high alcohol levels, structure and are full bodied. ⠀⠀⠀⠀

💡 Something you didn’t know (did you?)

The world has shown interest in the Okanagan Valley. From all over the world are winemakers flown in to help achieve the highest quality possible from the vineyards.

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