The stories of Oliver and Osoyoos are intertwined with those of First Nations peoples. Today, the region is home to North America’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery – Nk’Mip Cellars.
The first endeavor in the area was gold mining, dating back to 1887. The town of Fairview was established to the west of Oliver in 1890, but Fairview’s prosperity – and prospects – ended around 1926 with the end of the gold rush.
Agriculture blossomed in the 1920s with the construction of an irrigation channel flanking the Okanagan River. Desert landscapes suddenly had access to water, and the next two decades saw an increase in crops like tobacco and cantaloupe. Orchards quickly overtook the ground crops, bringing the attention of the fruit industry. Packing houses and canneries sprung up, some of which were the foundation for The SunRype Corporation.
The first grapes were planted in the 1970s. Varieties like Schonberger, Marachel Foch, and hybrids were tried and tested. Some of the original vines remain, but most of the acreage had plants ripped up in the 1980s. That’s when the provincial government gave farmers a financial incentive to remove French hybrid vines.
It was in the 1990s that the south Okanagan saw indication of growth in its young wine industry. Today, more than 5,052 acres in the region are under vine – and it’s growing every year.