You may be upset to learn that the Okanagan Desert, home of the Osoyoos Indian Band and billed as Canada’s “only desert,” in fact receives too much rainfall to qualify as a desert. The Osoyoos-owned Nk’Mip Cellars is, however, North America’s first indigenous-owned winery.
The Band owns 32,000 acres of rugged, undulating hills dotted with salty-green shrubbery, just north of the Canadian-U.S. border. It’s one of the driest and hottest corners of Canada. Of this lot, some 1,350 acres are dedicated to growing grapes, a tradition that began in 1968.
While the Band has maintained vineyards for decades, selling grapes to wineries around lower British Columbia, the opening of Nk’Mip Cellars in 2002 represented the Band taking ownership of the full process. Indigenous winemakers now showcase their skills as enologists and vignerons through a class of Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Chardonnays, and a series of blends. The wines are available in their winery as well as next door at the Spirit Ridge Resort’s restaurant, The Bear, The Fish, The Root, and the Berry, which specializes in indigenous cuisine and boasts a stunning view of Osoyoos Lake framed by handsome mountains.
An indigenous-owned winery producing award-winning wines from a desert-like landscape, Nk’Mip Cellars upends conceptions of Canadian culture in the best way possible.
Know Before You Go
The winery offers tours of the vineyards and facilities, available upon reservation.