Diversity makes for Interesting Wines that Tell a Story of Where They are Born
We are in love with the Similkameen Valley. The diverse terroir within the steep mountain walls range from rich sandy loam soils on top of endless gravel to blistering hot sites full of angular granite rocks. This diversity makes for interesting wines that tell a story of where they are born. We invite you into our exploration of our appellation and we hope you enjoy our wines.
From Southern Saskatchewan to the Similkameen Valley, BC
John & Virginia Weber both grew up in Southern Saskatchewan far away from anything to do with grapes and the wine industry. The closest they ever got to wine production was the jugs of chokecherry wine John’s parent made in their basement. Virginia studied nursing and became a registered nurse and John went on to finish an Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Virginia spent time as an au pair in France and then nursing with a non-profit organization in the slums of India. John travelled in Europe, studied french in Southwest France and bartended in England. He had two separate experiences with development work in Brazil. The first working with street kids in the poor Northeast and the second with a Brazilian organization that worked with subsistent farmers in the poorest part of Brazil. After these experiences, the two of them settled down and took teaching and nursing positions around Swift Current , Saskatchewan.
Falling in love with the Similkameen Valley
Life settled and things were good until they met the Similkameen Valley in 2001. The desire to try something new, their love of wine and the beauty of the Similkameen convinced them to purchase a vineyard and move from Saskatchewan to the Similkameen Valley to try something new. They quickly fell in love with the area and its burgeoning wine industry. Virginia has a horticulture diploma and has taken wine courses offered by the Okanagan University College. John has completed courses in viticulture, winemaking, and wine marketing from OUC. He was the first recipient of the Frank Supernak Bursary sponsored by the Canadian Vintners Association and OUC. It is given to the student who shows potential in BC’s wine industry.
Canada's first strawbale winery: OROFINO
The conception of our winery began in the spring of 2003. After months of researching and debating alternatives, the decision was made to build Canada’s first strawbale winery. Building design incorporated function and eye-pleasing detail.
The Orofino winery, Canada’s only strawbale winery was constructed in 2004/2005. The ecofriendly design consists of two buildings adjoined by a breezeway. We chose this building method after much research and planning. “Earthy” 21 inch thick walls provide superior insulation qualities - ideal for manufacturing constant barrel room temperatures and for keeping us cool in our desert heat. The buildings are beautiful and very unique. We are licensed so visitors can purchase wine and enjoy a picnic amongst our vines, almond, oak, and quince trees. In June of 2004, a strawbale workshop took place in conjunction with Sustainable Works of Nelson, BC. 22 people participated in a 5-day workshop that was designed to teach them the intricacies of strawbale construction. Using our project to get hands on experience, everybody went to work and the tasting room building was baled, sewn and stuccoed inside and out in 5 full days. The sense of community and ownership of the work done was an excellent by-product of the workshop.
Strawbale design has been around for over 200 years. The energy efficiency is unparalleled as walls are rated at up to R-60. This results in a building that is naturally cool in our hot desert summer and retains heat well in the winter.
Solar Powered Winery
We are proud of our latest green initiative here at Orofino. In the fall of 2012, we installed a solar power hybrid system that enables our tasting room and office building to be completely 100% run on solar energy. The system includes roof mounted solar pv panels to generate electricity to power the building as well as special solar panels that is able to heat all of our water needs in the building. the system has exceeded our expectations and we love to spend time watching our power meter spin backwards!
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