People who live in the South Okanagan choose this semi-arid location for its spectacular rugged terrain, its proximity to Skaha Lake, and the weather. But it’s what goes on beneath the ground that drew Liquidity winemaker Alison Moyes to this special place in 2015.
“I believe Okanagan Falls is the north-south border of the Okanagan Valley as a result of a glacial dam that occurred here 10,000 years ago,” Moyes explained. “It is the narrowest part of the valley. When great blocks of ice broke off, they got buried, melted and created kettle holes.” (Kettling is a geological term for multiple depressions that create rolling hills. These kettle holes are the defining geological characteristic of Okanagan Falls.)
“This glacial action created two very different soil types between the north and south, and that is fascinating in how it affects our wine.”
Liquidity boasts two estate properties where two different soil types are represented. The textural and mineral differences in the soils create a unique terroir, but they share a common property: excellent drainage. “Very fast-draining soil allows us to control how much moisture the vines receive,” Moyes said. “On our Allendale property there is a layer of sandy topsoil with smaller rocky particulate matter below. On the Lucy property there are surface boulders, which required lots of rock-picking over the years.”
It’s not all about what happens below the ground, as wind also plays a role in the growing season. “There is a bit of a wind tunnel here, which gives a drying effect on the vines. It prevents mildew but also has a cooling effect on the grapes,” Moyes explained. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can be sensitive to excessive heat, and the wind can help bring high temperatures down.
Liquidity recently achieved organic certification, with 2020 being their first certified organic vintage. “This desert climate is more conducive to growing organic than other regions,” Moyes said. “Organic isn’t just about sustainability and being responsible to the land. We are also seeing jumps in the quality of the vines, which translates to quality in the glass.” 2020 is shaping up to be Liquidity’s best vintage yet. “We enjoyed a really perfect growing season across all varietals,” Moyes said. “It’s rare to get a great year for both the early-ripening and later-ripening grapes.” Scheduled to produce three Pinots this year—Estate, Reserve and a Single Vineyard—Liquidity is also producing a Riesling for the first time in several years.
“Okanagan Falls is an extraordinary place to grow grapes and craft wine,” Moyes added. “The unique topography and climate offer distinctive wines defined by a line of minerality and tension not found anywhere else.”