May and June: Thursday – Monday 10am – 5pm | Tuesday – Wednesday by appointment
July 1st – October 14th: Daily 10am – 5pm
Owners: Virginia and John Weber
Winemaker: John Weber
John and Virginia Weber both grew up in Southern Saskatchewan far away from anything to do with grapes and the wine industry. The closest they ever got to wine production was the jugs of chokecherry wine John’s parents made in their basement. Virginia studied nursing and became a registered nurse and John received a Bachelor of Arts in English and then went on to finish an Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Both got the travel bug and spent the majority of the two years after university travelling and working abroad. It was on these travels that their affair with the world of wine was cultivated. Virginia spent time as an au pair in France and then nursing with a non-profit organization in the slums of India. John travelled in Europe, studied French in Southwest France and bartended in England. He had two separate experiences with development work in Brazil. The first working with street kids in the poor Northeast and the second with a Brazilian organization that worked with subsistence farmers in the poorest part of Brazil. After these experiences, the two of them settled down and took teaching and nursing positions around Swift Current , Saskatchewan. They then met the Similkameen Valley in 2001. The desire to try something new, their love of wine and the beauty of the Similkameen convinced them to purchase a vineyard and move from Saskatchewan to the Similkameen Valley to try something new. They quickly fell in love with the area and its burgeoning wine industry.
The 6 acre Orofino vineyard was first planted in 1989 making these vines some of the oldest in the valley. It still has some original blocks including Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling and Muscat. Replacement blocks include some Merlot (1999), Pinot Noir (2002 and 2008), and Petit Verdot (2010). Vines are grown in sandy loam with no rocks found for at least 2 feet. After that it is all river rock and gravel. The bench is prime agricultural land and has a proven track record for growing premium grapes.
The Orofino winery buildings were constructed in 2004/2005. It is Canada’s only winery built out of straw bales. The eco-friendly design consists of two buildings adjoined by a breezeway. We chose this building method after much research and planning. “Earthy” 21 inch thick walls provide superior insulation qualities – ideal for manufacturing constant barrel room temperatures and for keeping us cool in our desert heat. The buildings are beautiful and very unique. We are licensed so visitors can purchase wine and enjoy a picnic amongst our vines, almond, walnut, and oak trees. The wineshop is stocked with hard to find artisanal food products that enhance the visitor’s experience. Salts, olives, chocolate, olive oil and specialty vinegars are all available.
Orofino produces small lots of premium wines from both estate grown grapes and from small vineyards tended by some of the Similkameen’s best farmers. The grapes and the terroir are a big part of Orofino’s success. We consistently produce a portfolio of award-winning wines that include our Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Red Bridge Merlot and a Bordeaux blend we call ‘Beleza”. Other ridiculously small lots of various wines are also produced such as our Gamay and fabled late-harvest Muscat. Our wines have won multiple gold medals at the All Canadian Wine Championships as well as other respected competitions.
Orofino hosts the annual 1.6 Mile Dinner every summer. This is a hyper-locavore experience as everything consumed that night is produced within 1.6 miles of the winery. It is a truly enchanting evening of fine-dining, our best wines and the magic of the Similkameen. It is well-worth a planned visit!