All signs point to wine

Harpers hay bailsMotorists around Kamloops may have noticed new signs directing them on a taste-filled journey. The Kamloops Wine Trail, a joint effort by Kamloops wineries through the recently formed Kamloops Wineries Association, launched this summer to a thirsty demographic.

“I’m always asked ‘What makes Kamloops’ wine region unique?’” said Trish Morelli, executive director of the Kamloops Wineries Association. “Wine is all about place and the climate and the geography and the scenery. It’s different here than anywhere else. And, it’s about the culture and the stories behind the wine that are different than anywhere else. You can’t compare it to another place.”

The main trail is around 60 kilometers in length, and runs along the North and South Thompson Rivers connecting Harpers Trail, Monte Creek Ranch, Privato, and Sagewood Wineries.

Those driving from Sun Peaks have a couple options; leave the resort heading west to Highway 5, and start at Privato winery via the McClure Ferry; or leave the resort heading southeast on the McGillivray Lake forestry road to Chase (4×4 recommended) and start at Monte Creek Ranch Winery. Another option is to book a full tour with either Divine Tours or Tasteful Excursions, both of which pick up in Sun Peaks or Kamloops.

According to Morelli, early summer saw many customers coming from Sun Peaks, and she expects economic benefits for the resort and the entire area. The B.C. wine industry generates an estimated $476 million in tourism annually.

“It will offer tremendous economic impact to the region, whether it’s the tourism industry or the culinary sector. There’s a lot of great synergies that come from an emerging wine region to the community and people are pretty excited about that.

“This is a new tourism product for Kamloops and coupled with what we already have here it gives people more of a reason to come here who may not have before, and certainly more of a reason to stay here longer.”

This new wine region is expected to grow. A proven quality of wine mixed with the growing climate and the relatively inexpensive land prices combine to create an enticing business model.

‘I saw it start in the Okanagan so to see it start in Kamloops is certainly exciting.  It’s great to see history repeating itself,” Morelli said.

The association has big plans for the future by augmenting the wine experience with the local farm-to-table restaurants and microbrews, as well as existing tourism products.

“When we have the landscape that we have, with the beautiful trails and the river, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t incorporate biking, hiking and river cruises into the wine region in Kamloops,” she said.

To learn more, visit the Kamloops Wine Trail website.