Moon Curser Vineyards: Smugglers of Quirky Varietals in Osoyoos

This is a guest post by Sara M “The Wine Concubine”, on one of her favourite BC Wineries – Moon Curser Vineyards.

Located at the Southern point of the Okanagan wine region, the border town of Osoyoos is surrounded by wineries. One such winery is Moon Curser Vineyards, which is named and branded after the constant smuggling that occurred in the area during the gold rush by miners that were desperate to avoid paying customs fees. Many times they were caught when the bright moonlight shone upon them, hence the name Moon Curser.

One other feature that sets Moon Curser apart from other wineries in the region is their affinity for varietals not commonly grown and vinified in the Okanagan. Winemaker Chris Tolley gained an appreciation for unique grape varietals during his time at Lincoln University. His passion has transferred into the vineyards, where grapes like Dolcetto, Arneis, Tannat and even Carmenere are now planted. Combine that passion with a climate of consistent diurnal temperatures and deep, sandy soils with silica and granite particles, and you have ideal conditions for a variety of grapes to flourish!

I first visited Moon Curser back in 2013, where I fell in love with both their Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional red wines. That visit left me yearning for more, and I returned for another visit this past summer to satisfy my craving!

Moon Curser

1.  Arneis 2016

Moon CurserArneis is an Italian grape variety that comes from the Piedmont region of Italy, so it was intriguing to see this varietal on the tasting bar at Moon Curser! The 2016 Arneis displays a bright bouquet with aromas of lemon peel and a hint of almonds that lingers on the palate. Well structured, with lively acidity carrying through to a long, citrus finish. A fantastic summer sipper!

2. Dolcetto 2016

Moon CurserYet another Italian grape has found its way over to the Okanagan, and is flourishing in the desert microclimate! Deep purple in colour, with notes of damson fruit, ripe raspberries and a hint of leather. The silky tannins are well integrated, binding into a smooth, currant finish. An excellent pairing for charcuterie or roasted pork.

3. Carmenere 2015

Monn CurserChile’s most popular varietal is finding a home at Moon Curser, as it has taken well to the terroir. This gem opens with notes of plum and the varietal’s tell-tale red bell pepper characteristic. Complexity abounds with a flavour profile that includes ripe red cherries, black pepper, roasted red peppers and a hint of forest floor. A concentrated, finish full of red fruit will make you want another glass! My personal favourite of the tasting, and a definite must-try!

4. Dead of Night 2015

Moon CurserComposed of 50% Syrah and 50% Tannat, the Dead of Night blend really speaks to its name in the glass. A dark and brooding deep purple in colour, with aromas of spiced red fruit and ground black pepper. The palate opens up to stewed cherries and plums, and a hint of graphite mid-palate. Full-bodied, with a lush mouthfeel and smooth, well-integrated tannins lead into a bright, clean finish. A fantastic choice for sipping in front of the fire on a cold winter’s night, or with an elegant prime rib dinner.


The next time you find yourself in the Okanagan or in the Osoyoos area, make sure to stop by the tasting room at Moon Curser and try these unique wines. I promise you won’t be disappointed! After all, “Who wants to be normal when you can be unique?” – Helena Bonham Carter

For more great wine articles written by Sara, please visit her website here.