by Eliana Bray
Raise a glass to Indigenous Wineries
For an Indigenous winery experience, look no further than the Okanagan.
When you arrive at Nk’Mip Cellars in Osoyoos you are surrounded by history, art and Indigenous Culture. From the sculptures in the grounds to the illustrations on the labels of Nk’Mip’s Qwam Qwmt and Mer’r’iym (meaning “marriage”), the winery showcases storytelling from the Osoyoos Indian Band. “To not have art on display, we would be missing out on a part of its story.” says Troy Ravndahl, Visitor Experience Manager.
Nk’Mip Cellars was the first Indigenous-owned and operated winery in North America, and it’s part of the Osoyoos Indian Band’s mission to provide jobs and income for their members, a legacy that their current winemaker and band member, Justin Hall, is proud to be part of. Hall’s passion for wine has taken him around the world from working harvests in Australia to studying Oenology and Viticulture in New Zealand, but now he’s proud to be back home as Nk’Mip’s winemaker, working with grapes grown on Osoyoos Indian Band land. — nkmipcellars.com
Leave the softly sloping hills of Osoyoos, dotted with determined Ponderosa pines and head north through the stunning lake views of the Okanagan Valley to West Kelowna; look for the teepee poles and you know you’ve found Indigenous World Winery, founded by Robert & Bernice Louie, Indigenous First Peoples of the Okanagan and Similkameen, descendants of the Okanagan Syilx people who have cared for the land for thousands of years. At the winery enjoy striking local artwork and delicious award-winning wines. Try their flagship wine Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin; a Syilx term meaning ‘elusive high-country stag with large antlers’ and know that when you taste their wine, you’re tasting grapes from the land that has supported Indigenous People for countless generations. — indigenousworldwinery.com