Tinhorn Creek’s 100-acre Diamondback Vineyard is located on the Black Sage Bench, which is home to approximately one third of the Okanagan Valley’s vineyards. This area was first planted with hybrid grape varieties that were later removed in 1988 under a government program to replace less desirable grape varieties with a premium vinifera grapes. The land sat fallow for several years before replanting began. Twenty minutes north of Osoyoos, the Black Sage Bench sits on top of sandy soil that can be up to 300 feet deep. Affectionately known as “The Beach”, the soil on the upper elevated area of Black Sage Bench makes planting challenging, as a freshly dug hole fills with sand immediately. The soil has lower nutrient and organic matter content than other areas in the valley. Moreover, there is a high evaporation rate as water drains right through soil; thus requiring more irrigation than other sites. Fortunately, the benefits outweigh the challenges, which is apparent each year upon harvest.
The Black Sage Bench area is a protected ecological habitat that preserves antelope-brush, bunchgrass, sage and prickly pear cactus. These plants are critical habitat for the survival of several animal species, including the burrowing owl, tiger salamander, sage thrasher, night snake and badger. Today, the Black Sage Bench is planted with primarily vinifera grapes and is one of the most important viticulture regions in the Okanagan Valley. Its changeable mesoclimate makes for completely different grape ripening conditions.
The Diamondback Vineyard has a southwest facing elevated location and enjoys both early morning and late afternoon sun. In the summer months, the site can get anywhere from two to three additional hours of sunlight per day compared to the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard. The grapes planted at this site can ripen one to three weeks prior to the same varieties at Tinhorn, in part due to this sun exposure.The Diamondback Vineyard has 100 acres planted with eight varietals. Planting began in 1994 with Pinot Gris and Cabernet Franc. More plantings followed including Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. By 1997, the Diamondback Vineyard planting was finished. More recently, Semillon, Syrah and Malbec have been planted at this site.