The first indigenous-run winery in BC is Nk’Mip Cellars in Osoyoos, and it has been that way for several years, until recently. Robert Louie served as the Chief of the Westbank First Nation until 2016, but in 2011, he and his wife Bernice met wine maker Jason Parkes and together they started BC’s second indigenous winery: Indigenous World Winery. The vineyards are on the ancestral lands of the Okanagan Syilx people, where the Westbank First Nation resides. Robert and Bernice’s mission is to make world world-class wines that showcase the quality of their ancestral land. Jason is a local, raised in Peachland. Besides making wine for Indigenous World, he has also worked with the hatch and Perseus Winery, which are part of Terrabella Group.
I had a chance to visit Indigenous World Winery and taste some of their wines when I was in the Kelowna area late this summer. All the wines I thought were made very well and showed off the fresh BC fruit character that I comes from the Okanagan.
What Is Hee·Hee·Tel·Kin?
Two of the wines are labelled Hee·Hee·Tel·Kin. I did not recognize this word, but my tasting host told me the story behind it. Hee·Hee·Tel·Kin is a Syilx word meaning “elusive high country stag with large antlers”. This name was given to Robert and Bernice’s son Trenton Louie by one of the elders who saw Trenton in her dreams. Trenton is heavily involved in the winery from working in the vineyard to learning how to make wine with Jason Parkes. And hopefully will some day take over wine making and become the leader of the winery.
You will notice on the Hee·Hee·Tel·Kin labels, the stag holding the wine-press, looking to the wine maker for guidance.
My Tasting Notes
Indigenous World Ehrenfelser 2016 ($17.99) – Nice ripe apples and pears on the nose. Dry, medium body with medium acidity. More apple and pear flavours, along with some peach. Very tasty.
Indigenous World Viognier 2016 ($21.99) – Light nose of peaches. Medium body, round, with flavours of ripe apples and peaches. Medium plus acidity. Again, another nice wine.
Indigenous World Hee·Hee·Tel·Kin White 2016 ($14.99) – A blend of 50% Gewurztraminer, 30% Ehrenfelser, 20% Viognier & Chardonnay. Nice peachy nose. Dry and soft, but full-bodied. Flavours of apples and peach, and again a good level of acidity.
Indigenous World Hee·Hee·Tel·Kin Red 2014 ($21.99) – A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. This wine is a darker, dull garnet in the glass. Very aromatic, with aromas of raspberries, red cherries, smoke, and hints of capsicum and sausage. Full bodied, round with medium acidity and fine tannins. Ripe fruit flavours, in particular red cherries, raspberries and other bramble berries. Some smoky oak as well. Very good.
Indigenous World Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2013 ($31.99) – Lighter translucent garnet in the glass. Closed nose at the moment, but I did pick up light red fruit and red berries. Fuller body, dry and soft with medium tannins. Red fruits up front followed by red cherries. There is also some floral too. Good all around. If the nose was not as closed it would be higher rated. –
Indigenous World Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($31.99) – Deep, almost opaque garnet in colour. Lighter, smoky, dark fruit nose. Fuller body, round, with flavours of ripe, sweet black fruit and a touch of light oak. Fine tannins which become grippy on the finish. A quality wine.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
If you are in the Kelowna area you can go to the tasting room and purchase their wine, as I did, but if you are further away, you can order their wines online through this web page.