Black Sage Bench Growing District - Oliver, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 06.688 W 119° 32.992
11U E 313922 N 5442979
Quick Description: It is primarily due to the Black Sage Bench Growing District that Oliver can brand itself "The Wine Capital of Canada".
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 9/11/2021 10:14:31 AM
Waymark Code: WM14YCB
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
Views: 0

Long Description:
An ambitious irrigation scheme, the South Okanagan Lands Project, begun in 1918 by then Premier John Oliver would soon turn the southern Okanagan from a desert wasteland to a highly productive farming, market gardening and wine producing area. The area became so productive so quickly that, in 1920, the CPR deemed it necessary to begin construction of a spur line, the Osoyoos Subdivision, south from Penticton, eventually to reach Osoyoos at the U.S. border.

The irrigation scheme consisted of 2 major parts:
1 - Channeling the Okanagan River which flows south from Okanagan Lake.
2 - Creating a canal, known locally as The Ditch, coming off the river south of Vaseux Lake to irrigate areas downstream which were higher the the river.

As well, a series of nearly 20 low concrete dams were installed in the channelized river, each one raising the river level one metre, thereby creating more water storage. At the beginning of The Ditch the Patullo Dam was built to further increase water storage upstream.

Unfortunately, gravity fed irrigation was not available on the Black Sage Bench as it was well above the river. The area proved so adept at producing quality fruit that the growers of the area created their own irrigation system. It has since been incorporated into the Southern Okanagan Lands Irrigation District.
Located southeast of Oliver, the Black Sage Irrigation District was established in October 1947 by landowners who took over a private irrigation system owned by Alex MacDonald. Comprising 177 acres, the District provided irrigation water to approximately 12 landowners in the Black Sage road area. Much of the irrigation system was upgraded though grants under the Agricultural and Rural Development Agreement (ARDA) between 1965 and 1980. The District was absorbed by the Southern Okanagan Lands Irrigation District (SOLID) in late 1987.
From Memory BC
Black Sage Road runs along the east side of the Okanagan Valley, meandering southwards from the outskirts of Oliver toward Osoyoos. This 30 kilometre stretch is home to some of the most lauded wineries in British Columbia and the earliest vineyard plantings in the area. The soil is mostly sandy, with occasional pockets of gravel. One of the first vineyards on Black Sage Road was started by the Osoyoos Indian Band, who began planting Inkameep Vineyard in 1968. It wasn't until the early '90s, though, that the area was fully utilized for grape growing. Today the Black Sage Bench is home to literally dozens of wineries.


Black Sage Bench Growing District
Description of Historic Place:
This resource consists of a district approximately along the corridor of Black Sage Road from Orchard Grove Lane south to Road 22. Throughout this area are several vineyards, orchards and wineries which define the character of the district. It is approximately centered at 49 degrees, 6’ 41.3” N, 199 degrees, 32’ 59.5” W.

Heritage Value:
This resource consists of a district approximately along the corridor of Black Sage Road from Orchard Grove Lane south to Road 22. Throughout this area are several vineyards, orchards and wineries which define the character of the district. It is approximately centered at 49 degrees, 6’ 41.3” N, 199 degrees, 32’ 59.5” W.

Character-Defining Elements:
  • The presence of agricultural activity as evidenced by orchards and vineyards
  • The presence of wineries and resorts as secondary industries to the base agricultural economy
  • The viewscapes from the area towards other wineries, orchards and transportation corridors
  • The presence of an independent irrigation system, including water efficient drip-line mechanisms
  • The appearance of well-tended vineyards and orchards in rows and blocks

  • From the RDOS Heritage Register
Photo goes Here
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

Heritage Registry Page Number: Individual pages, not numbered

Address:
Black Sage Road
From Orchard Grove Lane at Oliver
To Road 22 near Osoyoos.
Oliver, BC
V0H 1T1


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