Okanagan Falls: The Heart of Wine Country

Okanagan Falls:

The Heart Of

Wine Country

September, 2016

Okanagan Falls, a small community of 2500, lies on the south end of Skaha Lake and is named after the twin waterfalls that once existed where Skaha Lake meets the Okanagan River. Located in the middle of the Okanagan Valley, (south of Penticton and north of Oliver) this sub-region is fondly thought of as the “heart” of our glorious Okanagan wine country. 

Okanagan Falls was established in 1876. Easy access for shipping freight along the water as well as the Kettle Valley Railway soon made it a prime location for ranching and fruit growing. By 1886 the first commercial orchard was established. 

The “actual” Okanagan Falls have been submerged by the waters of Skaha Lake since 1946 due to the construction of a small dam just south of the bridge along Highway 97. The dam is a vital component of irrigation and flood control for the region.

The area of Okanagan Falls has 539 acres under vine with 32 individual vineyards and twelve licensed wineries. The most planted varietals are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. Here, the soil differs from vineyard to vineyard, exhibiting gravel, clay and sandy loam. However, the soil has good drainage due to the surrounding rocky hills. It is typically a short and hot growing season where temperatures can rise to 40 plus degrees in the peak-growing season of July and August. Nearby Vaseux Lake, south of Okanagan Falls, also helps to moderate temperatures. Humidity is low which in turn mitigates the risk of pests and disease. Organic viticulture is increasing because of these conditions. 


-Lesley Chatwood

BC Wine Specialist

Fun Facts!!

The first vineyard opened in 1986 under the name Hawthorne Mountain. Today it is known as See Ya Later Ranch.

Meyer Vineyards has a full listing of their wines in Marks & Spencers throughout 169 stores in the UK.

Synchromesh’s flagship wine, Tertre Rouge, is named after the rather dangerous corner of the 24 hours of Le Mans (endurance sports car race) in France.

The local meaning of “Skaha” is horse although it was intended to mean “dog” as Lake Skaha was originally named Lac du Chien in 1867.

Caddy Bay Liquor Store