Discover Kamloops Thompson Valley WinesRedefining the BC Wine Experience
It’s an exciting time for the BC wine industry and Canadian wine lovers. BC wine sales are growing and the geographic wine boundaries are expanding. One of the exciting new regions adding to this changing wine landscape is the Kamloops, Thompson Valley region. Carving its way along the picturesque North and South Thompson Rivers, this emerging wine destination is producing some incredible wines in an area ripe for discovery.
With 105 acres under vine, the region has a handful of wineries each with its own unique personality, amenities, and an impressive line-up of very worthy wines. The regional wine style of the Thompson Valley offers well-balanced wines with layers of complexity and bright acidity—a wine style most comparable to the wines of Alsace and Burgundy. The local wineries offer welcoming tasting rooms, and attractive outdoor facilities. Visitors to the region will hear the stories behind the wines, learn about some of the area’s legends, and may even get a chance to taste wine with the owners themselves.
Licensed Wineries: 4
Commercial Vineyards: 6
Acres under vine: 105 acres
Top Grapes Planted:
Whites – Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris & Frontenac Gris
Reds – Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Marechal Foch
First Commercial Vineyard: Sagewood planted in 2005
First Kamloops Winery: Harper’s Trail opened in 2012
The Thompson Valley terroir offers premium conditions for local winemakers to shine. The valley that stretches 60 km east to west along the South Thompson River, and South to North along the North Thompson River, offers diverse microclimates depending on the aspect and location of the vineyard. Built upon ancient flood plains and volcanic rock, the regional soils are dominated by clay, silt, sand, and gravel, and are rich in mineral content—adding a layer of natural complexity and elegance to the wines.
The region is classified semi-arid with rainfall averaging 9 inches per year. With over 2,000 hours of annual sunshine and 30°C average summer temperatures, there is a high concentration of heat in the area with heat units measuring higher than parts of the Okanagan and on par with some of the famous growing regions in Burgundy. The warm days of the Thompson Valley often give way to cooler evenings. This diurnal temperature fluctuation provides bright, crisp, natural acidity in the wines that is quickly becoming a signature trait of the area.
Living on the edge of cool climate viticulture provides both excitement and risk for winemakers. Although winter temperatures have warmed over the years and the number of consistent days below minus 10°C are dwindling, winter damage in the Thompson Valley can be a threat. It is not surprising therefore that the focus in the area is more winter-hearty, early ripening grape varieties such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Marechal Foch. As well, Monte Creek Ranch Winery is having great success with lesser known grape varieties such as Frontenac Gris, Marquette, and La Crescent. With the right grape varieties, milder winters, and good technology in the vineyards, local winemakers and growers in the Thompson Valley are finding the benefits of this exciting wine region far outweigh the risks.
If you’re looking to provide your customers with a new wine experience, and to find some incredible wines from a trending new region, then I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with these new kids on the block from the Kamloops Thompson Valley.
Harper’s Trail Estate Winery: Kamloops’s first winery, named for the infamous cattle drive “trail” of pioneer rancher Thaddeus Harper. The wines from Harper’s Trail range from Riesling to Cabernet Franc to Sparkling, all of which reflect the minerality and crisp acidity that exemplify the South Thompson area. www.harperstrail.com
Monte Creek Ranch Winery: Monte Creek Ranch offers the next frontier in quality winemaking. The 1,200-acre working ranch is home to haskap berries, cattle, horses, bees, goats, and two stunning vineyards that straddle the South Thompson River. Monte Creek Ranch offers a diverse line-up of wines including reds, whites, sparkling, dessert, and fruit wines. www.montecreekranch.com
Privato Vineyard & Winery: A hidden gem in the heart of the Thompson Valley wine region, Privato is a family-owned boutique winery dedicated to the production of premium Burgundy-styled wine. Handcrafted in small lots, Privato offers some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Province alongside a selection of other premium wine offerings and local picnic items. www.Privato.ca
Sagewood Winery: Sagewood Estate Winery is a small, family-owned and operated winery nestled on the north side of the South Thompson Valley. Fostered through passion, Sagewood is a labour of love for the Wood family and that passion shines through in every bottle of wine made and glass of wine poured. www.sagewood.ca
Trish Morelli is Executive Director of the Kamloops Wineries Association and can be reached at email@example.com.
Photos courtesy of Kamloops Wine Trail