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Indigenous South Okanagan winery celebrates 20-year anniversary

Estate winemaker at Nk'Mip Cellars in Osoyoos, Justin Hall.
Estate winemaker at Nk'Mip Cellars in Osoyoos, Justin Hall.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Nk'Mip Cellars

Nk’Mip Cellars is the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America and is known for expressing Indigenous culture in everything it does.

For two decades, the South Okanagan vineyard and winery have been making international award-winning wines, while connecting Canadians to their origin story, according to a press release from the winery.

It’s a story “steeped in Indigenous history” with a “deep relationship to the land,” according to the media release.

This relationship with nature and connection to the past is prevalent in all that Nk’Mip does, from the harvesting process to the design of the wine bottles themselves.

Estate winemaker Justin Hall believes understanding and respecting the history of Nk’Mip and the Osoyoos Indian Band is as important as the taste of their award-winning offerings.

“Making a successful winery is creating memories with your wines,” he said in the release. “I love showing guests around our winery. It’s really important that they see and understand what we do and walk away with an experience and memory they can attach to the taste of our wine.”

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Hall and his team are celebrating the harvest season, where they work intimately with the land to harvest the grape for the estate’s primary offerings.

“Being in the winery is a lot of fun, but I love going out in the vines, seeing the soils, paying attention to what comes in. I love it all,” he said. “You have to be out in the land. You have to be out in the weather. You have to know what the vines are going through. It’s extremely important.”

Linda Anderson, a member of Osoyoos Indian Band, is the talent behind the artwork in all of Nk’mip’s labels. Linda’s interest in the natural world emerges through her depictions of native fauna in canvas and natural feathers. Colourful bears, quails, bumblebees and horses are often her inspiration.

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Nk’Mip is hosting some seasonal activities at the estate at 1400 Ranch Creek Road in Osoyoos.

On weekends, food and wine enthusiasts can take part in Holiday Inspiration food and wine pairing, featuring four wines paired with holiday-inspired food bites.

The Winter Dinner Series on Dec. 17 and Feb. 11 includes a welcome wine and a four-course menu with wine pairings created for each event by Nk’Mip’s chef. The winery is whimsically decorated for the occasion.

Nk’Mip was originally founded by members of the Osoyoos Indian Band. The Okanagan First Nations once traveled widely to fish, gather and hunt and would return to their villages in the Okanagan Valley in the winter. Each year, the first harvests of roots, berries, fish and game were celebrated by ceremonies honouring the food chiefs who provided for the people, according to Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre.

Gifting a bottle from the Indigenous-owned winery this season is a great way to support local artists, honour harvest traditions and celebrate the season.

Go here for more information on Nk'Mip Cellars.

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