Okanagan Falls: beach at Skaha Lake

Okanagan Falls: not a bad spot for a scenic tasting!

The more focused evolution of the Okanagan’s specific wine regions continues, as sub-appellations seem likely to become a reality. Witness the progress of the Okanagan Falls Wineries Association.

Last Friday night’s Party in the Park was just that: a delightful evening of wine tasting, excellent barbecued pork (from The Chef Instead) and a good band too: Uncorked! —right on the sun-drenched shores of Skaha Lake, in ‘downtown’ Okanagan Falls.

Okanagan Falls tasting with Meyer Vineyards

An enthusiastic crowd, anxious to taste with JAK Meyer. Inside scoop: Gewurz. Who knew?

It was a great display of community togetherness: good wines and food, perfect weather, and lots of fun.

However, more than that, the event was yet another step in the building of a regional group that will at some point include one (or more) distinct wine sub-appellations. Even if not all, most of the vines that produced the wines poured at Party in the Park are rooted within the immediate region, And, more to the point, the better wines being made here are beginning to develop a variety of their own characteristics, which is also key to the process.

Painted Rock Skinners at Okanagan Falls Party in the Park

Painted Rock sales manager Jill and owner John Skinner show off their pretty wicked, rhubarb toned rosé, among others. Oh, and did we mention the 2012 Icon? Watch for it soon!

The main roadblocks will come from outside, from those few powerful players who, primarily for their own, purely commercial reasons, want to continue bottling the valley’s grapes as one large, homogenous source, with no specific indication on the label as to where they originated.

Signs are, however, that the other important part of this equation, the consumer, will help to move both the sub-appellation discussion and process forward. You didn’t have to listen hard at Party in the Park to pick up on the genuine interest and curiosity from people towards all that’s happening in their own back yard, and their desire to taste and learn more to go along.

Okanagan Falls, Good bites from The Chef Instead, pulled pork—with Syncromesh Riesling, of course

Good bites from The Chef Instead, pulled pork—with Syncromesh Riesling, of course

There’s also not a little irony at play here. The flourishing Okanagan Falls Wineries Association came about almost by default, when its members were cast adrift by others, who ordained McIntyre Bluff (just below Okanagan Falls) as the most logical point to define the start of the south valley.

Okanagan Falls bandshell fundraiser

Some time soon there’ll be an Okanagan Falls bandshell, for sure…

That decision proved pivotal for Okanagan Falls, as it galvanised the wineries—not connected to Oliver but still south of Penticton and Naramata—into forming their own group. It’s a potent crew, too, which just happens to include quite a few of the valley’s top performers. Not to mention several winners of BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence.

If you’re Okanagan bound this summer, take time to map out your Okanagan Falls visit. With the likes of everyone from Blue Mountain to Liquidity (sparkling new bistro), Stag’s Hollow, Wild Goose (now with good bites!) and many more, you won’t be disappointed.

Okanagan Falls tasting: Christie Mavety pours Blue Mountain's flagship Brut

Christie Mavety pours pioneering  Blue Mountain’s flagship Brut