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Moon Curser Vineyards

Photo by Richard McGuire/MCV

Osoyoos is situated on the border and has a ‘rich’ history dating back to the gold rush era during the mid-1800s.

This is the southernmost town in the Okanagan Valley and is home to Canada’s only desert environment.

As a border town, Osoyoos was once a haven for gold-smuggling miners who relied on the moon to get back to the United States.

Using the cover of night, gold-smugglers would avoid border agents at all costs. Although, there would be times when the light of the moon would spoil their illegal plans and activities.

This is where the name Moon Curser originates from.

In my opinion, Moon Curser offers the most unique and diverse portfolio out of any winery in British Columbia.

Ever heard of Arneis, Tannat, Dolcetto, or Touriga Nacional? I think you can see where I’m going with this.

It is evident that co-proprietor, Chris Tolley doesn’t mind taking risks when it comes to planting varietals that are not commonly found in the Okanagan, or Canada for that matter.

Photo by Richard McGuire/MCV

Chris was born in Montreal in 1966 and became a software engineer in Calgary. His wife, Beata, was born in Poland, and immigrated to Canada in her late teens, she then practiced as a chartered accountant.

Chris and Beata, both decided to leave their careers behind and try something new. They moved to New Zealand to study viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University.

When the Tolleys started searching for a vineyard and winery property, they found an old cherry orchard on the eastern side of Osoyoos that was being sold after the previous owner’s death.

After graduating from the program, they bought the small property in Osoyoos and called it Twisted Tree Vineyards.

The original name came from the twisted cherry trees that once stood where the vineyard is now.

Chris and Beata picked the orchards last cherry crop in 2004 before converting it to vines the following year.

Since wine is all about place, the Tolleys decided to work with a marketing consultant and change the winery’s name to Moon Curser Vineyards, which pays tribute to the gold rush era and is a synonym for a smuggler.

Chris and Beata decided to plant varieties that are not readily available in the Okanagan Valley and provide novelty for visitors at Moon Curser.

They propagated Carménère, Tempranillo, Tannat, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier, because of their capability to produce high-quality wines. In choosing these varieties, the Tolleys have differentiated Moon Curser from its peers in the Okanagan.

“These varieties have not historically been a part of the South Okanagan viticulture but thrive in the distinctive terroir of the Osoyoos East Bench and continue to deliver unique, world class interpretations of these wines” (Moon Curser Website).

Nonetheless, Moon Curser does offer well known varietals such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec.

Photo by Kevin Dunn/MCV

Winemaker Christian Scagnetti moved in 2016 from Ontario to Osoyoos to work at Church and State as an Assistant Winemaker for two vintages, and then started working at Moon Curser.

Before winemaking, Christian thought he would be working in the quality control department of the alcohol industry.

After a few years, he felt compelled to go back to school in Niagara for winemaking and completed a course at Niagara College called Winemaking Viticulture Technician.

Initially, Chris Tolley was the winemaker and he brought Christian on as part of a retirement plan to take over the winemaking.

Since Christians arrival, he has been an advocate for Moon Curser to add sparkling wine to their portfolio. In 2021 they released their first bubbles – Moonlit, which is 100% Viognier.

For the 2022 season, they added a second bottle of bubbles named Eclipse, which is a traditional method sparkling Roussanne Marsanne blend exclusive for their wine club.

Moon Curser’s motto is to overdeliver for the price point they are charging and uphold a high standard of quality for all their wines.

The tasting room windows look out on the vineyard, with Osoyoos, the United States border, and the lake in the distance. I’d say the view here is a reason for lingering while sipping Moon Curser’s well-made wines.

I applaud this winery for making the decision to not follow what everyone else is doing, and it seems to have worked out well for them.

In 2019, Moon Curser was recognized as the #1 Best Performing Small Winery at the 2019 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada.

I strongly recommend visiting Moon Curser and taste the Okanagan expression of these international varietals!

Photo by Kevin Dunn/MCV


Javen - Poured By Jay

Hi, I'm Poured by Jay.

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