The Dhaliwal family has a long history of growing award-winning grapes in the Okanagan. They immigrated to Canada in the 1990s on a journey that turned out to be their destiny.
“My dad literally had five bucks in his pocket — and those five bucks he had to borrow,” says Neelam Dhaliwal, operations manager at Kismet Estate Winery in Oliver.
She says her dad, Sukwinder Dhaliwal, worked in agricultural jobs. His brother, Balwinder Dhaliwal, eventually joined him in British Columbia, and together the two gained insights into managing vineyards.
At the same time they planted for some of the region’s best-known wineries, the brothers began purchasing property together on the side. Eventually, they couldn’t maintain the balance of growing their own grapes and working full time.
They pivoted into managing their own vineyards and consulting for the industry.
The Dhaliwals grow many varieties on 350 acres, including rare grapes, like Grenache and Mourvedre. About 90 per cent of their grapes go to other wineries in the valley, and 10 per cent are used for Kismet wines — enough for about 6,000 cases.
Wines featuring the family’s grapes have consistently been used to create award-winning vintages.
“That’s when we started thinking, something’s missing. We want to be at the front end,” said Neelam.
In 2009, the family produced its first wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend. They gave it to friends and family, who loved it. In 2013, they opened their winery and called it Kismet — a Sanskrit word for destiny.
Kismet named its top red blends after the spiritual laws of destiny: Karma, Mantra and Moksha, and each tells a story of the Dhaliwals’ journey.
The winery is one of a few in the South Okanagan with a guest house. It’s designed with delicate Indian décor, and includes a hot tub, fire pit and picnic area.
Kismet’s bistro features the family’s secret recipes for authentic Indian cuisine. The response has been outstanding. Since opening, they’ve expand the bistro to accommodate more guests and special events. They also have a beautiful space in the centre of the vineyard that can be reserved for private events.
The wine, food and beautiful venue make a perfect recipe for spectacular events.
“People are blown away at how well the wines pair with Indian food,” says Neelam.
This year, the winery is putting out three new releases:
• Sparkling white: the winery will be putting out 200 cases of the dry sparkling wine, reminiscent of a citrusy cider;
• Lotus rosé: a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and orange Muscat; like lotus blossoms blooming from muddy water.
• Malbec reserve: aged in expensive barrels, it has a very intense and powerful flavour, with a bit of mint, and reminiscent of Argentinian wines
Last year, Kismet launched a wine club membership, which includes access to exclusive releases, and they’ve been overwhelmed by demand.