August 28, 2014

Nk'Mip Cellars in Osoyoos

The signs are different at the sprawling campus that includes Nk'Mip Cellars that overlooks Osoyoos and the lake. The land is owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band, as are the various businesses which include a resort, winery, golf course, and much more.

The band became involved with growing grapes in the late 1960s at their Inkameep Vineyard in Oliver. A more aggressive business model was the result of the election of Chief Clarence Louie 25 years ago and his single minded focus on job creation for band members. Ten years ago Mr Louie told an Alberta conference on aboriginal development: "My first rule for success is, 'Show up on time.' My second rule for success is, 'Follow rule number 1.' Our ancestors worked for a living," he told the gathering, "so should you." What followed has been a major development scheme that generates wealth and employment beyond the band itself.

Amidst the condos and conference facilities is the original Nk'Mip Cellars winery, wine tasting room and restaurant. Throughout Nk'Mip and its related enterprises, there is a dedication to service, and that service is exceptional: highly professional yet casual, and always centred on the customer. While the wine tasting room was busy during our visit, the servers were devoted to the task, encouraging and educating with every pour. "No" seems not to be a word used at Nk'Mip; every effort is made to find a way to say "Yes."  I also heard a tremendous sense of pride in what was happening here, and in being a part of that success. There are many businesses that could learn a few things from this place.

And the wines? They have always been consistently good and some are truly fine indeed. I like the Talon and the Merlot, and their Chardonnay is affordable and elegant.

Nearly every winery has a "reserve" range of the best wines they produce. Nk'Mip has that upper-tier too, though the "reserve" word is not used and understandably so. Here it is called Qwam Qwmt and the Meritage and Syrah are personal favourites.

The patio restaurant is, not surprisingly, a delight too, with an appropriate focus on the wines of course. The setting is fantastic, the food nicely prepared and presented with friendly and polished service.

And the meaning of Qwam Qwmt? The words come from the Salish language and mean "Achieving excellence." Nk'Mip and the Osoyoos Indian Band are on to something.

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2014.

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