Margaret & Nigel explore and share their Shuswap culinary discoveries.
With picturesque mountains, green pastures, sweet apple orchards, and stunning lake vineyards, it’s a region ripe with flavour and we love nothing more than to sip our way around the Shuswap!
Our climate produces beautiful wine from northern grape varieties, crisp bright ciders from local fruit and is the home to sustainable organic breweries and creative craft distilleries. Shuswap magic makers put their own spin on the finest ingredients resulting in a delightful culinary journey where no two visits are the same. In fact, collectively the Shuswap is home to 9 wineries, 3 cideries, 3 breweries and 2 distilleries. You can taste something different at every stop.
Let’s start our sipping tour in the North Shuswap with a visit to Celista Estate Winery.
While each winery is unique and has its own microclimate, one thing that all Shuswap wineries have in common is that they grow predominantly cool climate varieties which makes sense because the Shuswap is one of the most northerly grape growing regions in North America. In fact, Celista Estate Winery is THE most northern grape growing winery.
On a visit to Celista you may meet up owner Jake and enjoy one of his personalized vineyard tours where you will learn about grapes best grown in the Shuswap. Ortega, Kerner and Siegerrebe are three of the more unique vines you will find and Jake will teach you how to pronounce Siegerrebe properly! After the tour enjoy a tasting flight with some locally made cheese, crackers and spreads, all available for purchase at the wine shop. With views of the vines and glimpses of Shuswap Lake you’ll never want to leave.
Leave you must though as there are so many special places to explore and sips to enjoy! Returning to the South Shuswap a must stop is Crannóg Ales, Canada’s first Certified Organic microbrewery. If you haven’t tasted their signature brew, the Backhand of God, you’re in for a treat. Brian and Rebecca brew only organic ales from their own hops and focus on quality and socially responsible practises. We also love that the spent grains left over from the brewing process are used to feed the farm animals. If you’re lucky you may also get a chance to buy Rebecca’s home grown paprika. It’s so good.
A short trip to Sunnybrae and your sipping tour brings you to Sunnybrae Vineyards & Winery and Ricochet Brewing. Situated side by side on the shores of Shuswap Lake at the base of Bastion Mountain, these artisans share a love of flavourful delicious thirst quenching beverages. If you visit Sunnybrae on the weekend you are more than likely to enjoy tasty treats from a food truck and sounds of a local musician. Head out on the deck overlooking the lake and try their small batch single vineyard estate grown Pinot Noir or award winning Ortega. A light yellow skinned grape the Ortega has strong floral aromas and fruit forward, sweet taste and is often used in blends because of this sweet aroma and taste. Don’t forget to stop in at the Shuswap’s newest brewery Ricochet if the gate sales sign is up. If not, you’ll find the regions only canned craft brew at any local licensed liquor store including Tappen Co-op just down the road. Nigel’s favourite is Fire House Red Ale which is dedicated to all the local volunteer fire departments and first responders.
Are you a cider fan? We’ve got three in the region you are going to love, each with its own special experience. Head south to Farmstrong Cider. As you pull up the driveway you are instantly transported back in time as the gorgeous renovated heritage barn with its colourful patchwork roof comes into view. With apples grown right on the property, Farmstrong offers a wide range of ciders which we love to pair with house specialty pickle pizza! From there return to Northyards Cider Co. and Shuswap Cidery both in Salmon Arm. Northyards is located in the old Hanna Orchard and you can sip cider maker Alison’s traditionally made beverages right out in the orchard. You can even stay in the cutest little cabin or bring your trailer and camp. Shuswap Cidery offers an urban environment at the Westgate Public Market where you can enjoy a variety of cider including my favourite – haskap which pairs nicely with wood fired pizza.
In and around Salmon Arm you don’t have to go far to find several lovely vineyards. Larch Hills was the first winery to be established in the Shuswap and a visit there is something special as being the highest elevated winery in North America, the views are spectacular. Marionette, located on the North Broadview Bench has a unique terroir allowing winemaker Jamie to grow unique to this region grape varieties. If you can get it, the rosé is spectacular. Marionette has become a must stop for locals who love the weekend lounge featuring music and tacos. It has fast become a popular hangout place.
The Shuswap also offers some of the most affordable wines available. Waterside is a fun little winery just north of Enderby who’s labels like Sex in a Bottle are meant to be lighthearted and light on the wallet. You’ll find more price friendly wines at Edge of the Earth and Recline Ridge. Often sold out, affordable and award winning boutique Ovino Winery takes advantage of the sun drenched bench in the Salmon Valley. Don’t forget to pick up a jar or two of their delicious homemade hot pepper wine jelly. A perfect addition to your charcuterie platter!
Shuswap now boasts two craft distilleries, After Dark Distillery in Sicamous and Shuswap Highland Stills in Salmon Arm. After Dark offers a wide range of gin, vodka and whisky and flavoured moonshine liquors. My favourite is the Pickle Shine which is the perfect Caesar solution. How Canadian! Shuswap Highland Stills is brand new and excited to offer small batch vodka spirits and liquors made from apples grown right on their farm. How cool is that! Their Wee Nip coffee liquor features Shuswap Coffee Co. and is gives an iced coffee a nice little kick. Look for their tasting room to open soon.
Wrapping up our Sip the Shuswap tour back in Salmon Arm we always enjoy a visit to Barley Station Brew Pub. Serving their own brews, they offer something for everyone from ales to pilsners to stout. The menu is fantastic and we are big fans of their fish and chips. The Barley Station donates ten cents from every sleeve of Shuswap Trail IPA bought at the pub to the Shuswap Trail Alliance. We love their community spirit.
Thinking about your next tasting trip? We highly recommend you consider the Shuswap where you will find an abundance of delicious offerings combined with warm hospitality and relaxed charm. Shuswap Lake provides the picture perfect backdrop to enjoy one of our many artisan beverages with your outdoor picnic or patio lunch. Come and sip the Shuswap!