Definitely Not Terroir

I think there’s too much money in this country. Vineyards get draped to keep off birds.


At the same time, a native berry, Oregon grape, goes through the winter without appreciable harm by birds… until the spring, when they take them all at once. This is because of the acidity in the things, which only becomes sweet when it is infected with bacteria after frost. This is the process of the finest wine production in Europe, and of making perries and ciders.

Sure, it costs a bit to pick them, but it costs a lot to drape a vineyard, too. When the land naturally makes wine and one does something else instead, that’s not terroir, no matter what Summerhill Winery has to say about it from Okanagan Mission:

Over the last decades, producers in the Okanagan Valley have undertaken great efforts to establish this unique and breathtakingly beautiful valley as North America’s newest premium wine‐growing region. The diversity of vines that thrive in varied microclimates here provides winemakers with a multitude of options to express their creative talents and technical expertise.

Did you catch that? Terroir is an expression of the land through a grape, but when one is talking of Okanagan Terroir, one is talking of the “creative talents” and “technical expertise” of the winemaker. By the way, technical expertise does not mean a knowledge of the land. If it did, it would recognize the service berry …

Bella Vista

…as the inhabitant of the same niche as the grape does along the Rhine, the Danube, the Rhône and the Mosel…

A Hang in the Mosel

… and work with that. Instead, as Summerhill points out…

The region has attracted winemakers from around the world and is now home to vintners from France, Australia, California, New Zealand and South Africa.

How strangely colonial. Seemingly, people from elsewhere know how to get things done. Well, at least they know their valley, right? Um, maybe not.

The Okanagan Valley is a 124 mile‐long trough that extends north from the 49th parallel into the central southern interior of British Columbia. The valley is lined with multiple bedrocks, their floors and lower slopes overlaid with the rich silt, sand and gravel over 10,000‐year old glacial deposits.

The Okanagan Valley actually stretches from the mouth of the Okanagan River at Brewster, Washington, continues north 80 miles to Canada, and another 124 miles north from there. Well, if one is going to talk about politics, ok, 124 miles, but terroir? No way. It gets more fantastical…

The northern end of the Sonoran Desert eco-zone, which extends all the way south to Mexico, just barely reaches across the United States‐Canada border to British Columbia, up to the south Okanagan towns of Osoyoos and Oliver. Referred to as Canada’s only pocket desert, the arid climate of the southern British Columbia interior shapes the geographical landscape for viticulture.


It’s true, you know. There’s a little snippet of desert, about 2 acres, in Osoyoos, on the Canada-US border. It’s a sand dune. That aside, there is no desert, no matter what the tourist brochures, or the Osoyoos Chamber of Commerce, tells you. Even Washington State, some 300 miles from north to south, is a shrub steppe, not a desert. And yet this 2 acres all by itself shapes the geographical landscape for viticulture? No, money and power do that…

Well, Herbicides, too. Vineyard at the Rise.

…, but then, they have nothing to do with wine, or land. Don’t be fooled, and you will be, until you see Oregon grapes sited as these riesling grapes are on the Rhine.

Abandoned Vineyard between Rüdesheim and Assmannshausen.

A country that uses art to hide its land from its people is a country in trouble.

Categories: Wine

Tagged as: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.