Touch the art, guilt-free.

If you’re missing all things art (like me), stick these Okanagan-based small-lot drinks producers on your radar:

Ursa Major Winery x Anoushka Mirchandani

Rajen Toor (RT) was born and raised on his family’s vineyard on the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. After years of conventional wine growing, he’s taken on the task of rebuilding his family farm’s soils and biodiversity using regenerative farming practices. Switching to organic grape growing and sustainable cellar practices, Rajen now shines bright with Ursa Major.

Ursa Major Winery


Who’s your artist, and why did you want to work with them?

RT: Every year, I try to do a one-off art label for a certain wine [like our 2019 Meeting of Self Cabernet Franc]. The artist I worked with this year is Anoushka Mirchandani from San Francisco. I found her work through social media; all of her pieces resonated with me. Her recent series was based on a shared first-generation experience; of breaking cycles, mental and emotional freedom and all of the nuances that come along with it. This is the exact story I was trying to tell through the wine — it was very important to work with an Indian artist because there was a specific first-generation born in North America story [that] I was trying to tell with this wine.

How do you incorporate art in other ways?

RT: I’ve always been a fan of poetry, so it was a no-brainer to use a very personal style of poetry to tell the stories I wanted to tell. Just a couple of lines to sum it all up. To sum up exactly the personal context and where my head is at, at the time.

What came first, the artwork or the wine?

RT: The wine always comes first; everything is tailored around the wine itself.

Buy wine: / Follow: @ursamajorwinery x @anoushka

Counterflow Brewing x Liz Ranney

Counterflow Brewing is one of the Okanagan’s newest extremely micro craft breweries. Born out of winning a home brewing competition, the team of Taylor Ballantyne, Malcolm Potts, Jason Lanki and Kyle Finnerty eventually found themselves brewing sours and fruit beers out of Penticton’s Bad Tattoo Brewing with Lee Agur (LA).

Counterflow Brewing


Who’s your artist, and why did you want to work with them?

LA: We wanted to collaborate with Liz [Ranney] because of her use of bright and bold colours. It [the artwork] really stands out and grabs your eye, especially when you are in a sea of one thousand different beer cans. Collaborating with a local artist who also gets to see their work on shelves around town feels great, and we are so glad we chose a local designer.

From your portfolio, which label is your fave?

LA: Our favourite is the Paradigm Shift Pink Guava; it was our first child. No matter what anyone says, the first child is very special for a lot of reasons. Liz far exceeded our expectations on what we were looking for — she translated our gibberish into the beautiful stand-out label that people gravitate towards.

What came first, the artwork or the beer?

LA: Well, in this instance, the beer. We tried forty different beer before we landed on our first one. Many times, we think we have an awesome name or an idea that would create a very cool label, but the beer doesn’t match up or doesnt meet our expectations, so we have to go back to the drawing board.  

Buy beer: / Follow: @counterflowbrewing x @lizranneyart

Lightning Rock Winery x Samantha Smith 

Located in Summerland, Lightning Rock is a small-lot winery banging out electric — predominately single vineyard and single varietal — natural sparkling and still wines. Focusing on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier and Syrah, the farmer-winemaker duo of Jordan Kubek (JK) and Tyler Knight are known for sabering bubbles from everything from a ski to an iron.

Lightning Rock

Who’s your artist? Tell me about them. 

JK: Sam [Smith] is the best! She’s a friend of Tyler’s from high school — she’s local and super talented. We try as much as possible to support local people in everything we do.

What came first, the artwork or the wine?  

JK: The wine came first. However, both Tyler and I are farmers and not overly artistic. Working with someone like Sam, who knew Tyler and the Okanagan, made coming up with a design we love harmonious.

From your current portfolio, which is your fave label when it comes to the artwork?

JK: I love the Pét-Nat labels with the lightning bolt and the rock. It is really dynamic; I think it captures the essence of the wine and what we are all about.

Buy wine: lightningrockwinery.comFollow: @lightningrockwinery x @studiosamwich 

Creek & Gully Cider x  Jamie Evrard 

Nestled amongst Naramata’s winding roads, Creek & Gully Cider is all about organic farming. When farming roots travel five generations deep, it’s safe to say supporting local is not what they do but who they are. For Annelise Simonsen and Kaleigh Jorgenson (KJ), the process begins with paying tribute to organic apples — different sizes, shapes and blemished personalities — pressed and fermented using pétillant naturel and Traditional Methods (like sparkling wine, except it is cider). 

Creek & Gully Cider

Who’s your artist, and why did you want to work with them?

KJ: Jamie [Evrard] is a long-time family friend and has been instrumental in realizing our dream. Her artwork is so natural and vibrant we wanted to incorporate its vivacious energy. We love Jamies artwork and she offered many of her existing paintings to work with — theyre often extravagantly large in real life, so to have a version adorning our bottles is a beautiful way for people to see them. 

From your current portfolio, do you have a fave label?

KJ: Our new cans are stunning. We have a core colour palette that we work with, then mesh and adapt the [various] label-looks with fragments of Jamies paintings.

What came first, the artwork or the cider?  

KJ: Cider comes first, then we brainstorm a name and find the artwork to match. The ciders all have such different personalities — its so fun to get to know them. The label is like a fabulous accessory. 

Buy cider: / Follow: @creekandgully x @jamieevrard 

Rigour & Whimsy x  Annie Robinson (and others)

The wife-husband team of Jody and Costas Gavaris know a thing about seeking balance — in themselves, their relationships and the natural world. So think of Rigour & Whimsy as the ying and the yang to find a little harmony in their Orange (or Amber), Gamay and Syrah wines, to name a few. 

Rigour & Whimsy

Who’s your artist(s), and why did you want to work with them?

JG: Art means everything to us! We like to work with artists whose work resonates with us, and who we feel can use their artistic vision and voice to more skillfully capture and communicate the essence of each of our wines and their stories. We work with different artists on each of our wine labels. Most recently, we have worked with Annie Robinson, Sarah Gee Miller, Nicole Young. And this year, we will be working with Alexandra Goodall and Aaron Metz.

You work with so many artists. Do you have a favourite label?

JG: Oh geez, that is a tough question. We have new favourites every year — I would probably have to go with the watercolour painted by Annie Robinson that adorns our first two vintages of wines (2016 and 2017 Pinot Blanc). Annie and I were colleagues in our past urban jobs and lives in Vancouver. To me, this painting represents hope, vision, alignment, integrity, transformation and peace — all the attributes that kept us going while we were in the midst of a major life transition, and kept our eyes on the horizon that we were dreaming up and living into.

What came first, the artwork or the type of wine?  

JG: Definitely the type of wine. We started this crazy business because Costa is OBSESSED with wine. So in our approach, we like to let the wines — and his artistic vision in creating them — lead the rest of our creative process. The vintage (weather, challenges, opportunities), the winemaking approaches, and everything that the wine becomes to us in terms of what it means and represents.

Do you incorporate commissioned art in any other ways with Rigour & Whimsy? 

JG: Yes! We also incorporate commissioned art into the postcards we include on our hand-signed thank you cards that accompany each of our online order shipments. 

Buy wine: / Follow: @rigourandwhimsy x @annieonthewater 

Cheers to supporting the Okanagan Valley’s beverage scene AND independent artists. 

Go on, touch the art! (Just don’t do that when you’re visiting an actual art gallery) 

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