Learn how nature and nurture combine to create unique flavours and a premier Okanagan tasting tour…

When sub-appellations are named in the Okanagan, the Golden Mile Bench between Oliver and Osoyoos is on track to be among the first (along with the Black Sage and Naramata benches). Highlighting the individuality of the wines, sub-appellations are part of the evolution of a mature wine region—and much coveted by wineries.

The Golden Mile is well suited to wine production. In Okanagan Geology South, local geologists Murray Roed and Robert Fulton describe the desired characteristics. Murray says the Golden Mile consists of “three terraces and associated alluvial fans (on the slopes of Mount Kobau) between Tinhorn and Testalinden creeks” plus Hester Creek. “These terraces and raised fans are favoured sites for the wine industry.” Robert says, “The fan sediments include an in-filling of fine material (clay loam) and…?scattered large stones. The finer matrix tends to hold moisture better and is richer (than the sandy soil of Black Sage across the Valley), but the coarse material creates planting and cultivation problems.”

Situated on an upper bench, significantly warmer than the valley floor, Golden Mile vineyards benefit from good airflow, allowing the vines to escape spring and fall frosts. Generally facing east to south-east, the vines catch good early morning sun but shade by late afternoon. The cool evenings slow ripening, encouraging the development of complexity and intense flavours. The unique conditions are ideal for growing cooler climate varieties, such as Pinot Noir and Riesling, as well as sinewy reds.

For wine trekkers, the Golden Mile (more than a mile) runs from Fairview Cellars, named after the old gold mining town outside Oliver, to Castoro de Oro, north of Osoyoos Lake. Home to a dozen wineries, the Golden Mile integrates intriguing vintages with a dynamic, rural setting.

Combine fine wines with a duo of international caliber winery restaurants at Hester Creek (Terrafina) and Tinhorn Creek (Miradoro), impressive architecture at Road 13, Tinhorn Creek, Hester Creek and Cassini, plus local history at Fairview and Rustico, a network of hiking trails overlooking the bench and beyond, and you have the formula for one of the Okanagan’s most irresistible agri-tourism experiences. ~Michael Botner

Photo by Stuart Bish