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Winemakers in the Spotlight: RUSTIC ROOTS

Rustic Roots Organic Wines and Ciders

The fertile Similkameen Valley has been sown and cultivated for nearly 150 years. The Harker family’s Valley farming roots run just as deep: since 1885, the Harkers have grown celebrated, organic produce here. They supply restaurants, grocery stores, and even public schools throughout the province. For 5 generations, the Harkers have coaxed the best flavours from their 30 acre Cawston farm –the Similkameen soil is in their blood.

It is no surprise, then, that, as the Similkameen becomes known for its excellent wine terroir, the Harkers should be at the forefront of the revolution! In this true family-run operation, each family member plays a critical role in the harvest and production. At their farm winery, Rustic Roots, winemaker Sara and her husband, Troy, are at the helm. Committed to sustainable growing practices, and with the farm’s delicious, organic tree fruits at her disposal, Sara has been able to get creative with her flavours. The result is a portfolio of unique, award-winning fruit wines that showcase the essence of the Similkameen. It’s clear that the rustic roots of the Harker farm will continue to thrive for generations to come.

Owner/Winemaker: Sara Harker

If you were a wine, which wine would you be? Plum Rose. It is made with a blend of 5 varieties of beautiful Similkameen Valley plums. It is a true representation of my fermentation style: wild fermented, minimal intervention, certified organic farming and winemaking practices. It is a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, playing tricks on your palate with unique flavours and aromas attributed to the high-quality fruit and wild ferment.

What is your greatest passion? Sustainable food! We opened the winery in 2008 with a mandate of sustaining local food. Every business decision we make within our 5 entities is done with this mandate in mind. We pack and sell for over 30 Organic Farmers in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. We want to ensure that these family farms are sustainable, and do so by creating a value-added product from their #2 or juice-grade fruit. Whether it is our wines or ciders, jams or preserves, or soups and pickles, our goal is to create a vertical and horizontally integrated business, reducing food waste and feeding people.

What might people be surprised to learn about you? That my husband and I own and operate a multi-faceted company, coach, contribute to our community and raise 3 children.

What’s your secret food craving? Being a seasonal eater, my food cravings change with the seasons. In the spring, I can eat local organic asparagus, greens, or foraged mushrooms for 3 meals a day. As soon as zucchini is ready, we will literally eat every portion, from the baby zucchini to the flowers sautéed in butter or stuffed with cheese and fried. As soon as heirloom tomatoes are ready, they become a staple with every meal, sprinkled with flavoured salts.

What’s your favourite food to eat while watching movies? Charcuterie with my husband’s or daughter’s locally-hunted salami, sausage, and pepperoni, organic BC cheese, and some of our delicious pickles.

What is your favourite fruit, and why? Apricots. Their delicate floral flavours and intense acidity make a perfect fruit, in my opinion.

What is your favourite South-Okanagan/Similkameen activity? Walking along, fishing, and floating down the Similkameen River.

Describe your dream meal: Fresh oysters from the Oyster Man on Cortes Island with citrus mignonette, a salad of fresh spinach, strawberries, homegrown bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette, homegrown pork chops with morel mushroom gravy and sautéed zucchini flowers in butter and garlic, and a pavlova topped with strawberries.

What is your favourite food or wine film, and why? Ratatouille! It is a true foodie film in the form of a cartoon. The enthusiasm for food is infectious in this film, and teaches children to appreciate what they eat and how it got there.

Rustic Roots Organic Wines and Ciders
2238 Highway #3, Cawston, BC

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