Sustainable Sips: wineries in the Okanagan and Similkameen doing their part for wildlife
April is an exciting month as we celebrate both Earth Month and BC Wine Month. The Okanagan and Similkameen valleys are home to dozens of beautiful wineries and vineyards, many of whom are also known for their commitment to sustainability and reducing their environmental impact. This makes April the perfect time to highlight the great work that these wineries do! Please join us in celebrating Earth Month and BC Wine Month by picking up a bottle of wine from one of these great environmentally- and wildlife- friendly wineries!
Sustainable agriculture practices include water conservation and healthy soil management systems to reduce water waste, like using drip hoses to deliver water directly to the vines' roots instead of using overhead sprinklers. Additionally, vineyard managers often use drought-tolerant cover crops to retain soil moisture, improve soil health, increase organic matter, and reduce erosion.
Some wineries and grape growers go one step further and participate as Wildlife Habitat Stewards with Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship (OSS). They are dedicated to caring for the wildlife habitats in and around their vineyards and, in return, get support and recognition from OSS. Each winery does different things to care for their habitats. Some undertake large-scale habitat restoration projects like the ones at a Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery vineyard in Cawston and Okanagan Crush Pad Winery in Summerland. In other places such as LEED Certified Tantalus Winery, bird boxes and raptor roosting poles help reduce the need for pesticides in the vineyards as resident songbirds and hawks eat huge numbers of insects and rodents
Sometimes the best (and the simplest!) course of action for helping wildlife habitat is leaving it natural, as Forbidden Fruit Winery and at Synchromesh Winery have done. Both wineries keep large (over 60 acres each!) areas of wildlife habitat intact because those areas are critically important to endangered birds such as Western Screech-owl and Yellow-breasted Chat at Forbidden Fruit Winery, and other at-risk wildlife species like Bighorn Sheep and Pallid Bats at Synchromesh Wines.
Over a dozen wineries and vineyards in the Okanagan and Similkameen participate in OSS’s Wildlife Habitat Stewardship initiative, including Osoyoos La Rose, Tinhorn Creek Winery, and Lunessence Winery. Please join us and support these Wildlife Friendly Wines!