Opened in the fall of 2002, NKï¿½MIP Cellars is located in Osoyoos, British Columbia, in the Okanagan Valley wine growing region. It is the fi rst aboriginal owned and operated winery dedicated to crafting premium VQA wines. The winery and vineyards are situated on spectacular bench land, owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band. The area hosts Canadaï¿½s only pocket desert, with the vineyard providing a spectacular contrast to the tumbleweed and sage landscape. The NKï¿½MIP Cellars winery building, designed by Penticton-based architect Robert Mackenzie, celebrates this natural beauty and unique arid wilderness. It was constructed partially underground to accommodate the cellars and make use of the natural cooling effect of the earth, while helping to reduce the buildingï¿½s impact on the landscape.
NKï¿½MIP Cellars wine labels feature a pictograph of a turtle and an arrowhead. Pictographs ï¿½ line drawings of animals, people or tools ï¿½ are scattered throughout the Okanagan Valley on cliffs and in caves. Their discovery gave evidence of a culture that fl ourished in the Okanagan Valley for thousands of years. The turtle refl ects wisdom and vision while the arrowhead symbolizes power.
The grapes come from the Osoyoos Indian Bandï¿½s 97-hectare (240-acre) Inkameep Vineyard, which was fi rst planted in 1968. Under the direction of viticulturist Sam Baptiste, the vineyard produces some of the most sought-after grapes in the Okanagan Valley. Grapes are also harvested from the wineryï¿½s own estate vineyard: 8.5 hectares (21 acres) were planted at NKï¿½MIP Cellars in 2002 (3.7 ha/9 ac of Cabernet Sauvignon, 2 ha/5 ac of Merlot, 0.8 ha/2 ac of Cabernet Franc and 2 ha/5 ac of Shiraz).
Vineyard manager Sam Baptiste and NKï¿½MIP Cellars winemaker Randy Picton work closely throughout the year to ensure that the fruit earmarked for NKï¿½MIP Cellars matches Pictonï¿½s winemaking philosophy. Picton, one of the regionï¿½s most esteemed winemakers, has been making wine in the Okanagan Valley since 1996. While he believes that great wines start in the vineyard, Pictonï¿½s attention to detail continues when the grapes reach the cellar door and he approaches each wine with a unique strategy. The winery has reached production capacity of 18,000 cases. NKï¿½MIP Cellars produces a Chardonnay, a Pinot Blanc, a Riesling, a Pinot Noir and a Merlot. A reserve wine series named Qwam Qwmt (pronounced kw-em kw-empt) was introduced in 2003. In the Okanagan language, spoken by the Osoyoos Indian Band, this translates to ï¿½achieving excellence.ï¿½ A Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage and Riesling Icewine are available in limited quantities.
Visitors enjoy a magical time at NKï¿½MIP Cellars which is open daily for tours and wine tastings. The winery celebrates the heritage and history of the Band and the region through special events and displays of artifacts. They host salmon BBQs, traditional native dancing and other activities during the peak touring season.