Focus on quality wines and tourism at a new Okanagan winery, Indigenous World Winery

Indigenous World Winery opened its doors earlier this year. It is located on the west shore of the Okanaga Lake in the Okanaga Valley, a good three hour’s drive east of Vancouver. It is only the second aboriginal owned winery in the Okanagan. Although the winery was only recently opened for visits they have been making wine for a few years and have a range of bottlings back to 2012 to propose to visitors. With the new opening they are putting a lot of effort into a becoming top-notch wine tourism destination. BKWine Magazine Guest Writer Dee Newman, a freelance wine writer, was at the opening and talked to the owners.

After visiting nearby wineries on the Westside Wine Trail it was time to pop into the Grand Opening of “Indigenous World Winery” on Horizon Drive in Westbank.  I arrived to parking lots almost full to capacity …a good thing.  Upon entering the beautifully, high ceilinged, well-appointed Indigenous World Tasting room with panoramic views of Okanagan Lake meandering  northward, one could not help but think that this was a success story in the making.  Since it was Opening day I was offered a flight of 4 wines of my choosing to taste.  The wines did not disappoint.

Indigenous World Winery in Okanaga Valley

Indigenous World Winery in Okanagan Valley, copyright D Newman

Outside one can view the beautiful landscaped grounds which overlook the 2.5 acre Muscat vineyard below, with the picturesque lake in the background.  Going through the tented area one can descend down some stairs that lead to what will be the Red Fox dining room, with a well-appointed outdoor patio.  This is to be fully operational within several weeks.  Make your reservations now so as not to be disappointed, as I am sure this will become a dining hot spot in West Kelowna!   If one does not want to be in the dining area, there are two huge, partly covered decks that run along the back and east side of the tasting room.  The patios are equipped with large colorful umbrellas, excellent table & seating and heaters for those cool Okanagan nights.  An amphitheatre for concerts and theatrical events is planned for the future.

I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Chief, a very gracious, down-to-earth couple.  Robert Louie is the Chief of the Westbank First Nation and he and his wife Bernice are the originators of the Indigenous World concept.

They are Okanagan Syilx descendants and have a strong passion for nature, the land, and the rich history and traditions of the Syilx people.

Robert and Bernice Louie at Indigenous World Winery, Okanaga

Robert and Bernice Louie at Indigenous World Winery, Okanagan, copyright D Newman

Their Winery was 4 years in the making and the Louie’s travelled to many parts of Canada, Europe, the Napa Valley and New Zealand, visiting wineries and vineyards.  They took the best parts of the best visited to incorporate into their vision of what the Indigenous World Winery was to be, along with offering the best wine experience.  Indigenous World Winery is independently owned and operated by Chief Robert and his wife Bernice.  It has the capacity to produce up to 10,000 cases of wine a year. The Winery started releasing wines in the fall of 2015 and it is the second aboriginal owned winery in the Okanagan.  It is their intention to also open a distillery.

At the bottom of the hill there is a 2.5 acre vineyard of Muscat grapes.  The remaining grapes are sourced from several of the most prestigious vineyards in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. They work with farmers that are committed to the grape growing process and are passionate about their land.

Jason Parkes is an incredibly gifted winemaker that has won hundreds of wine awards. Some of Jason’s wines are world renowned.  Jason is also an accomplished musician and is incredibly artistic and uncompromising in his passion for the wine industry.  The Louie’s said they feel very fortunate to have Jason as part of the team. They have already garnered many medals for their wines.  The winery’s portfolio includes:  Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin White blend, Red Fox Rosé, Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin Red blend, Merlot, Pinot Noir and a Simo [“See-Moo”] Small Lot Red blend.

One could easily observe how many locals, neighbors, friends and family attended the Opening to share in the Louie’s success and happiness.

The emblem logo with the winery’s name on the front of the building reflects an owl transcending into an eagle with bright stars above, which is the Big Dipper.  Bright stars will shine for this couple, leading the way to much deserved success for a very bright future!

Read more on the Indigenous World Winery.

Dee Newman is a freelance wine writer and photographer based in British Columbia, Canada.

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