Measuring actually longer than a mile, the Golden Mile is located on the west side of the Okanagan Valley. Starting at Fairway Rd. south of Oliver and ending at Road 13, the Golden Mile, an east -facing bench, lies almost directly opposite the Black Sage Bench. Because of its east-facing aspect it gets most of its sun in the morning, making it a cooler region than the Black Sage Bench. The area is 1500 acres in size with 800 acres under vine.
The Golden Mile is BC’s first sub-appellation and was recognized as such in 2015. The Geographical Indication (GI) is basically a boundary that defines the soil-terroir of that particular area that ultimately defines the uniqueness of the wines from that region. Here the soils are gravel and rock and sandy-loam. Alluvial fans-deposits formed eons ago from ancient rivers and waterways add tasty nutrients that influence the characteristics of the wines. The Geographical Indication means wineries can put an exclusive label on their wines as long as 95% of the grapes in their wines are grown within the region.
The history of the Golden Mile begins in the early 1900s when the area was divided into farming plots for returning WWI soldiers. In 1929 an irrigation canal was completed between Vasseaux Lake and Osoyoos that turned the area into lush farmland for crops and orchards. It was in the 1940’s that its reputation grew for its rich farmland and was named it the Golden Mile.
The name too could allude to the gold and silver mines that once operated in the area. Morning Star mine was located near Fairview Cellars and the Tinhorn Creek Quartz mine is now Tinhorn Creek vineyard.
- Lesley Chatwood
BC Wines Specialist
Joe Bisnardo planted the first commercial vineyard on the Golden Mile in 1969. Today he operates the Divino Estate Winery in the Cowichan Valley.
The eleven wineries on the Golden Mile are C.C. Jentsch, Checkmate, Culmina, Fairview Cellars, Gehringer Bros., Hester Creek, Inniskillin Okanagan, Road 13, Tinhorn Creek, Rustico Farm & Cellars and Willow Hill.
The warm season lasts from June 15 to September 10 with the average daily high above 25 C. The upper bench location of the Golden Mile means that temperatures are 6-8 degrees hotter than on the highway below.