I recently completed Level One of The Ambassador Program, a one-of-a-kind, exclusively BC focused series of educational courses designed to share what makes BC wine so unique sponsored by the Wines of British Columbia.. I absolutely loved the format and the knowledge I gained about BC wine. Of course I was so pleased to learn more about our Shuswap varieties and that helped on the quiz at the end :).
We have enjoyed tastings from all of our local wineries including Marionette, Sunnybrae, Recline Ridge, Larch Hills, Celista, Baccata, Edge of the Earth, Ovino and Waterside but the course spurred me on to learn more about the unique attributes of wine grown in the Shuswap.
While each winery is unique and has its own microclimate, one thing that all Shuswap wineries have in common is that they grow predominantly cool climate varieties which makes sense because the Shuswap is one of the most northerly grape growing regions in North America. In fact, Celista Estate Winery is THE most northern grape growing winery.
A visit to a Shuswap winery will introduce you to some varieties you may not be familiar with. Ortega, Kerner and Siegerrebe are three of the more unique vines you will find.
The Ortega originates from Germany and was named after the Spanish poet and philosopher José Ortega y Gasset by its creator Hans Breider who crossed the Siegerrebe and Müller-Thurgeau in 1948. A light yellow skinned grape the Ortega has strong floral aromas and fruit forward, sweet taste and is often used in blends because of this sweet aroma and taste. We have enjoyed delicious Ortega throughout the Shuswap and one of our favourites is from Celista Estate Wines.
Enjoying Celista Winery with Owner Jake Ootes
You will find delicious Siegerrebe at many Shuswap wineries and we particularly like Larch Hills. This red and pink skinned grape makes a beautiful white wine on the drier side. Also from Germany the translation of Siegerrebe is “victory wine”. Larch Hills was the first winery to be established in the Shuswap and a visit there is something special as being the highest elevated winery in North America, the views are spectacular.
Kerner also originates from Germany which comes as no surprise as we have similar climates and we learned it is not a particular fussy grape which makes it a good fit for the Shuswap . A cross between a the popular Riesling and the lesser known Trollinger, Kerner is an aromatic white wine grape that is large in size with a light-green skin colour. Several years ago our first introduction to this grape was the 2019 The Boss Man's Kerner at Sunnybrae and we really enjoyed it. Under new ownership, we are excited to taste what Sunnybrae turns out in upcoming vintages and have been eagerly awaiting their Pinot Noir.
A Great Pairing! Jennifer Schell's BC Wine Lover's Cookbook and Sunnybrae The Boss Man's Kerner