Kamloops is home to one of BC’s newest wine regions and one of the northernmost vinifera growing areas. With four wineries covering six vineyards and 120 acres under vine, the growing industry is winning provincial, national and international awards that recognize the quality of the “Thompson Valley” wine designation. Well-drained soils rich in mineral content result in bright, crisp aromatic whites and fruit-forward, well-balanced reds that are quickly becoming a signature style in the region. Discover these four hidden gems and a little-known fact about each one.
Harper's Trail Winery
When Ed and Vicki Collett bought the Harper's Trail Winery property on East Shuswap Road in 2007, they didn’t have any experience with farming or enology. “What is unique about our property is the vein of limestone that runs through it which lends to the minerality and crisp acidity in our wines,” says co-owner Vicki. “ In 2008, Richard Cleave and the late Harry McWatters offered advice on everything from row width to the type of vinifera to plant. In 2011, when the vineyard was ready for its first vintage, Richard introduced us to Michael Bartier, who became the consulting winemaker. Michael’s winemaking style is driven by his belief that wine is meant to be enjoyed with food, and the wines should always speak of where they came from; in our case, a breathtaking and pristine landscape.”
Monte Creek Ranch Winery
Located on a working ranch that is home to cattle, horses, and two estate vineyards, the team at Monte Creek Ranch Winery set up a sustainability committee to find ways to become more eco-friendly. Now the team performs waste audits to see what could have been recycled or composted and works with vendors to reduce shipping materials. “Each department takes on goals and in the tasting room I work with merchandise a lot, so I work with my vendors to reduce their shipping materials and choose to work with those who have the same goals,” says Tasting Room Manager Danett Fisher. “We are already noticing many vendors using compostable materials for shipping their goods to us.” The winery also keeps pigs on-site during the summer that eat the restaurant waste and keep food out of the garbage.
Privato Vineyard & Winery
Named after the Italian word for ‘private’ to reflect the winery’s idyllic setting, Privato Vineyard & Winery was inspired by owners Debbie and John Woodward’s travels to Europe in the late 2000s. They fell in love with Italy, especially Cinque Terra. “Nestled high in the hills against the craggy shores of the Mediterranean, were five little towns each connected by a little railway stopping at each or a spectacular hike that went from town to town,” remembers Debbie. “We opted for the latter and it was one spectacular vista after another. But what was so captivating was all the vineyards terraced alongside the mountainside. They had an innovative monorail system that was their means to harvest the grapes. We would see workers passing us along the trail with a basket of grapes held high on their shoulder. It was here that the seed was planted. It took some time before that seed even sprouted, but nonetheless Privato’s inspiration has always had its roots in that scenic trip to Cinque Terra.”
Sagewood Estate Winery
Family-owned and operated Sagewood Estate Winery was Kamloops’ first commercial vineyard when it was planted back in 2005, meaning it now has the area’s oldest vines. Grapes are hand-picked for the hand-crafted wine, using environmentally-conscious practices in the vineyard and winery. “Doug has hand-planted 17 different grape varieties, so this allows us to offer a wide selection of reds, whites, rose, dessert wines, and sparkling selections,” says Co-Owner Shelley Wood. “Several of our wines have been honoured with Best of Category recognition at international wine competitions.”
Stay safe and let a Kamloops tour operator take you on a drive to the Thompson Valley wineries. Enjoy a picnic and tasting on a patio, relax in a wine garden, and sip a glass of award-winning wine.