What is a sub-GI? British Columbia’s wine regions are currently broken up into nine Geographical Indications (GIs), similar to ‘appellations’ used in other countries and Ontario, each with their own distinctive identity for the wines that grow and are made there. These GIs are determined based on analysis of similar soils, climate, annual weather, etc that all contribute to the style of wines. The Okanagan Valley GI is further broken down into four sub-Geographical Indications (sub-GIs): Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Falls, Skaha Bench and Naramata Bench.
In July 2018, the area around our winery was officially recognized as being geologically unique in the production of wine grapes and was given its own designation of a sub-geographical indication (sub-GI). Okanagan Falls became only the second sub-GI in BC, the first being the Golden Mile Bench in Oliver in 2015. The process began over a year earlier by engaging a team of scientists who specialize in soils and viticulture to study the region. They determined that an area stretching roughly from Peach Cliff at the north to Vaseux Lake at the south, from approximately Highway 97 to the west to the steep granite hillsides to the east, had soils, topography and climate that positively influence the development of grapevines, determining quality.
In that study, it was also determined that the sub-GI is made up of two distinct landscape elements – one in the northern section (25% of sub-GI) around Shuttleworth Creek that is made of alluvial floodplain and gently sloping sediments, and one in the southern section (75% of sub-GI) that is characterized by undulating glaciofluvial soils and kettles formed by chunks of glacier that melted under the deposited soils. Each of our two vineyards are located in those distinct landscapes, and in fact our ‘Hollow’ is an ancient kettle that was formed 12,000 years ago.
Okanagan Falls Sub-GI Quick Facts:
- Existing landscape created by the receding glaciers 12,000 years ago
- Sub-GI covers an area of 800ha, of which 150ha are planted to vines
- Elevation ranges from 400m to 500m
- Growing-Degree Days: average of 1400, depending on site
- Frost-free growing days: 185
- Annual precipitation: 330mm
- Primary varieties planted (make up 75% of plantings): Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir