The serene lakefront Echo Bay property is generational land purchased in 1967. What was once a hobby farm and family summer home has become a family-owned and operated business led by the Rufiange family. The eighteen-acre farm has an idyllic position along Skaha Lake’s waterfront and is the only winery in the region to do so. The surrounding, large rock formations moderate this unique location, creating a distinct micro-climate on the farm. As an ode to the family history, the winery facility built replicates the original hay barn that once sat in its place. In 2013, with no prior experience in the wine industry, the Rufiange family sought expertise from Richard Cleave, a pioneer viticulturist of the BC wine industry. With a thorough analysis of the land and under Dick’s guidance, they decided that the original red varieties of Bordeaux would be well suited to grow on the farm. As a throwback to old Bordeaux, they planted four acres of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Carménère, Petite Verdot, and a small parcel of Sangiovese. Echo Bay’s South West facing slopes of silty loam with randomized gravels deposited from glacial meltwater allows exposure to the afternoon sun, which is ideal for these later ripening varieties to thrive.
The Echo Bay farm philosophy holds land stewardship in the highest regard, and the family has a deep connection to their vineyard with a hands-on approach to farming. Maintaining biodiversity and creating a self-sustaining ecosystem is the priority of land practices through holistic care. There’s no use of synthetic inputs in the vineyard, and building soil health is of utmost importance. They achieve this through cover crops, plant ferments and preparations, compost, and experimental techniques like biochar, all produced on the farm.
With this nurturing way in the vineyard, the approach to winemaking is with a minimal mindset. The blooming biodiversity in the farm allows the native yeats to thrive, which is integral to producing wines with a sense of place. The variable of harvest conditions creates nuances thoughtfully expressed through the wines, with no two vintages alike. The flagship blend ‘Synoptic’ reveals itself as the Echo Bay team gathers to compose the components that best represent the season in the vineyard, with outstanding single-varietal wines allowed to shine in their own right. The wines are given time to age in ideal conditions, allowing them to harmonize and show their full potential upon release.
Harvest time at Echo Bay is one of the most vibrant and exciting on the farm. Our wonderful family and friends are our grape-picking savours, always ready to lend a hand when our crop reaches optimum ripeness. We fuel our hard-working team on picking days with cinnamon buns and a hearty lunch, and the atmosphere is lively! Our harvest season is as variable as the ever-changing climate conditions but typically runs through October.