For #IndigenousPeoplesDay, we are highlighting two Indigenous wineries and their story in our blog.
National Indigenous People’s Day is June 21, and this year we want to introduce you to two local wineries owned and operated by Indigenous People’s.
Located in the Okanagan Valley, Nk’mip Cellars and Indigenous World Winery are the only two Indigenous owned wineries in British Columbia. Both are crafting high quality wines that reflect not just the terroir of the Okanagan Valley, but the culture and heritage of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Syilx Okanagan Nation.
Nk’mip Cellars, in Osoyoos, is the first Indigenous owned winery in North America. The winery opened in 2002, but the Osoyoos Indian Band first planted vineyards in 1968. Their vision was to develop the community’s economy and they recognized that the hot and dry climate in Osoyoos was ideal for growing quality grapes. The winery employs many members of the band and much of the profits go back to supporting the Osoyoos People through social service and wellbeing programs.
Justin Hall, one of the first Indigenous winemakers in North America, was first hired in 2004 as a cellar hand, mainly cleaning equipment. It didn’t take long before he developed a passion for wine and began taking enology and viticulture classes at Okanagan University College, then moved to Australia and New Zealand to further his winemaking education. When he returned to Osoyoos in 2017, he was promptly promoted to winemaker at Nk’mip.
Nk’mip wines are inspired by a connection to the land and culture and reflect a deep respect for the heritage of the Osoyoos People.
Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay
Qwam Qwmt translates to ‘achieving excellence.’ This line of wines is produced in small quantities, only from the finest estate grown grapes. This Chardonnay is bursting with ripe melon and pineapple, matched with a hint of butterscotch and cinnamon. Fresh acidity makes it a versatile wine that will pair well with a range of summer dishes..
Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir
Qwam Qwmt translates to ‘achieving excellence.’ This line of wines is produced in small quantities, only from the finest estate grown grapes. The Pinot Noir is intensely aromatic with notes of dark cherry, nutmeg, and lightly toasted oak. The silky tannins and elegant acidity carry the flavours through a long finish..
Indigenous World Winery
Indigenous World Winery was founded in 2016 by husband-and-wife team Robert and Bernice Louie, descendants of the Syilx People. Their goal is to create fine wines that can compete on a global stage while acting as stewards of the land and celebrating their Indigenous culture.
The winery incorporates Indigenous art and culture in several ways. The labels feature animals significant to the Syilx People such as the bald eagle, red fox, and grizzly bear. Their grapes are sourced from the most expressive vineyards located on traditional Syilx lands, giving the wines a unique send of the Similkameen terroir. Several wines are named for family members, including the Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin line, which takes its name from son Trenton’s traditional name, meaning elusive high-country stag with large antler. Trenton works alongside winemaker Jason Parkes while studying viticulture.
More recently, Indigenous World Winery has branched out into the distilling world. They launched a vodka and gin in early 2020. And there is a whisky on the way! The gin is infused with local botanicals, many of which were traditionally used as medicine by local Indigenous people.
Indigenous World Winery Single Vineyard Gamay Noir
This fresh and fruity wine has aromas of wild strawberries, red liquorice, and a touch of fresh cracked peppercorn. The tannins are firm, yet fine-grained, giving this wine an elegant structure and supple mouthfeel. Try this Gamay with herb roasted chicken, smoked salmon, or spinach artichoke dip.
Indigenous World Winery Red Fox Rose
This delicate rosé is made from a blend of Gamay and Malbec, with just a touch of Pinot Blanc. It is a refreshing wine with loads of grapefruit and red berry flavour, perfect for warm summer days spent lounging outside. This rosé is perfect on its own, but will also pair nicely with Greek salad, cheesy popcorn, and grilled veggies.
Indigenous World Gin
This Gin is made from a base of half wheat and half barley spirit, then infused with local botanicals including lavender, rosehip, chamomile, and elderberry. The result is a juniper-forward Gin with plenty of floral and herbaceous notes. This is perfect for your next G&T, or to add a floral boost to a Negroni.