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Terroir

herder-barrels.jpgEau Vivre Winery & Vineyards can be found in Cawston in the heart of the Similkameen Valley. You can get to us by heading east from Vancouver on Highway #3 from Hope to Princeton to Keremeos and then into Cawston. Or you can come west of Osoyoos on Hwy #3 or from Penticton go south to Hwy 3A then to Keremeos and then south toward Osoyoos to Cawston.

The Similkameen Valley is a very important part of the story of our winery. For years the grapes of the Similkameen Valley were sent to wineries in the Okanagan to make award winning wines. But lately a small group of hardy individuals have started small, usually family run, wineries to take advantage of the excellent quality grapes that are produced in the Valley. People are starting to wonder why these small upstart wineries have been able to produce so many award winning wines.

All wines begin in the vineyard, and the term ‘terroir’ comes to mind. In the Similkameen Valley terroir is everything.Terroir is the sum of geography, geology and climate, and the Similkameen Valley has them all. Geographically we are about as far south as you can get in BC, sandwiched between the Interior Plateau and craggy mountains of the Cascade Range Climate is hot and dry, like a desert, in fact it is the northern end of the Sonoran Desert. There are more heat days in Cawston than in Osoyoos. The Okanagan Valley is full of lakes that moderate the temperatures, while in the Similkameen we have high craggy mountains that cool the night breezes, giving the vineyards that daily fluctuation in temperature that wine grapes are known to need.

What really makes the Similkameen Valley a wonderful grape growing region is the third principle of terroir, geology. The mountains that surround the Similkameen are predominately composed of ancient volcanic rock. What happened during the last glaciation period is what has shaped the soils of the valley. During that period there was a huge dam at the south end of the valley just inside the USA. The Similkameen Valley was filled with water during the last glaciation. It sat full of water, a huge deep lake, for millions of years. Then as the glaciers retreated and the earth warmed, the dam let go and the Similkameen emptied rather quickly. What was left was thick deposits of clay, the geological product of the mountains and the water filled valley, volcanic clay. Of course there was lots of river rock and volcanic breccia and scree mixed into the upper benches and the flat valley bottom were composed of thick beds of clay topped with lots of rich top soil.

 

Written by Dale A. Wright (P.Geo.)



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