The Shuswap = Houseboating, Roots & Blues Festival, Adams River “Salute to the Sockeye” Festival! All fabulous draws to visit this amazing region but there is so so much more to this secret paradise than you know. Plan a wine tour, book a sweat lodge experience with a First Nations elder, partake in some world class fly fishing, hit the farmers markets, drink organic beer, go where the buffalo roam and even snorkel with salmon (well, that will be next year at the Adams River “Salute to the Sockeye” Festival, but still! So cool!!)
The immense presence of nature is felt in the Shuswap wherever you go – water, mountains, trees, it is a green oasis and microclimate that straddles the desert climate of the south with the rainforest of the north and east. The harmony with nature in this picturesque region brings forth so many unique experiences. The culture here is creative and authentic, youthful entrepreneurs are migrating here to explore new opportunities and start new businesses in what is a relatively untapped industry. Music is a vibrant scene with music events galore. Throughout the summer there is live outdoor music somewhere in the Shuswap, usually on a beach, every night of the week.
And then there is the food and wine! There are farmers markets galore offered every day of the week up and down the region. Fresh produce and artisanal products are celebrated here – these people know how to bring life from the land. The Turtle Valley Bison Ranch, near Chase, is an exciting new addition to the area and is sight to see. Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam…yup, it really is as idyllic as the old ballad depicts. Young bison ranchers, Rudi Scheibel and Layne Keyes, met playing junior hockey together and launched into this business venture together two short years ago. 300 acres of glorious land surrounding them, and a majestic herd of buffalo later- the two are going great guns selling this healthful alterative to beef. They now have celebrated chef Chris Whittaker on board and plans are for dinner in the field events and a future restaurant experience. Hard to explain the feeling when seeing this herd before your eyes, it reaches into the primal. These majestic animals represent the history of this land and our ancestors.
As for the thriving wine industry in the Shuswap, this is a new frontier for BC wine. Wineries continue to pop up in this northern growing region as word spreads of the unique growing conditions. Cool climate wines are very special and offer a unique taste of what BC has to offer. The higher elevations support amazing white varietals that you may not have heard of, or tried! Ortega, Siegerrebe, Madeline Angevine, Lemberger – these crisp whites are only made in this climate and will thrill your tasebuds. At Marionette in Salmon Arm, you can taste the terroir of their regional Pinot Noir, and other reds that are thriving there like Zweigelt and Merlot. The growing conditions here are actually very like Burgundy and many of the wineries do not need to irrigate because of the balance of the microclimate.
Recline Ridge specializes in many of the whites mentioned above and more. When you visit them in Tappen, you can also taste a real wine gum! Local entrepreneur Teena Gudjonson’s Cellar Candy, her unique and patented creation of an all-natural wine gums actually made with real wine, have become a sensation. Recline Ridge has a custom wine gum made with heir own wine.
Wind (or should I say wine?) your way out to Celista Winery to enjoy their incredible park like setting and then pop into Sunnybrae Winery for a couple of bottles of their famous Redneck Red blend. Larch Hills Winery takes you to the highest altitude winery in North America and at OVINO Winery in Silver Creek you can taste wine and say hello to the flock of sheep from which the winery got its name. Go to www.shuswapwineries.ca for details and to help plan your route.
The Shuswap also delights with many delicious food options. From locally-focused dining at Café Tasse or Table 24 to an indigenous experience at Jack Sam’s restaurant at the Quaaout Lodge featuring First Nation’s traditions, to wonderful hip cafes and bakeries, your appetite will be sated. The Hungry Panda Curbside Noodle truck has manifested this year as a bricks and mortar eatery. You will see from the lineups that this is THE hot spot (try the yellow curry noodle box!). The Shuswap Pie Company has become legendary for its delicious fruit and savoury pies that are perfect to eat in or take home to your cottage. Plan to take a drive to Falkland to experience hyper local chef Jay Bennett’s creative culinary menu at The Ranch Cafe that also serves casual café style favorites.
Only 1.5 hours from Kelowna, the Shuswap area offers a fabulous weekend escape or simply make a day trip to wine tour. Easy peasy to get to with so many adventures to offer, book your Shuswap escape this summer! Check out sample itineraries and event schedules at: www.shuswaptourism.ca
(pictured-Larch Hills father and Son Jack and Wayne, Shuswap’s Buffalo Farm)