The Okanagan Valley is located in the South Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada basically between the 49th & 50th parallels.
Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna, and Penticton.
Sicamous, Grindrod, Enderby, Armstrong, Lake Country, Peachland, Summerland, Naramata, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, and Osoyoos.
Mild, short cloudy winters with very hot dry summers reaching as high as 42C. Spring and Fall are long and very pleasant.
There can be as much as 6 - 8C difference in temperature between the north and south ends of the valley. This temperature difference plays a major role in what types of fruit and the varietals of them that grow in each region.
Multiple factors contribute to the many micro climates around the Okanagan.
The South end of the Valley is part of the Sonoran Desert which also provides great influence.
The first vines as well as apples were planted by Father Charles Pandosy who arrived in Kelowna in 1859 as a Missionary. He brought with him vines of the Labrusca variety to make wine for Sacramental purpose. These did not produce high quality wines that we are now familiar with.
While a few Wineries did begin to pop up in time they were forced to remove their vines and cease production (unless for sacramental use) due to Prohibition. Around 1925 Charles Casorso began planting vines, brothers Pete and Lois in 1930.
Peter Casorso being a significant factor in the founding of Calona Wines in approx 1932 along with Cap Capozi, W.A.C. Bennett and Guiseppi Ghezzi are credited for establishing the original Winery in the Okanagan and the longest continuously run Winery as well. First to win a VQA award amongst many other celebrations.
The area was first known in agriculture for the fertile lands that grew tobacco, tomato's, onions and corn. Originally hybrid grapes were planted before they realized that proper noble and traditional vinifera would thrive here.
For many years Okanagan Ciders were available primarily as non-alcoholic. Now there are many Cideries throughout the Valley making 'adult' versions of ciders.
Along with Ciders, the Okanagan is home to multiple Distilleries and Breweries with more coming up each year.
A few of the unique characteristics of the valley are that it not only sits within the 'Ring of Fire' with at least 3 inactive volcanoes but it is also host to a desert and Lake Okanagan - a fjord lake left behind by the receding glaciers of which is surrounded by forest.
Though the Okanagan Valley has many lakes, most notably Okanagan Lake helps to moderate the temperatures both winter and summer as well as acting as a giant reflector for the sun basting the Okanagan. The lake is approx 135 km long with its deepest point being 232 m. It is 5 km at the widest and about 1 km at the narrowest where the only bridge traverses the lake. Given the weather, the last time Okanagan Lake froze completely across was the winter of 1949/50. I've only seen the lake freeze out as much as several meters in the shallower areas along the shore and I've been here since 1971.
The first bridge completed in 1958 had a considerable floating section. While the 2008 replacement still has a floating section it is much smaller. As well as it was just time for an upgrade and expansion the lift span on the original structure was becoming a major problem so when the new bridge was constructed a permanent rise was included to allow marine vessels to pass under and not impede surface vehicle traffic.
Because we sit between the 49th & 50th parallels it means we have about 3 hours more daylight at summer solstice than California. This fact converts directly to what is often termed, 'growing hours' as it means that we have the sun at the most important time for ripening the best fruit and other crops not available to many other regions.
With over 220 Wineries right in the Okanagan and more than 320 Wineries overall in British Columbia the Industry is booming and regularly coming in as the #2 wine region in the World.
Wine is not alone. Brewing, distilling and ciders are rising fast, popping up literally everywhere!