Canada 150: The Purity and Diversity of BC Wines

The 2017 Vancouver International Wine Festival celebrated Canada’s 150th anniversary with Canadian wines at the core. Punters lined up for a taste of Ontario, Nova Scotia and BC. Not surprisingly BC wines predominated with 60 wineries (out of 275 and counting). Ontario came with 10 wineries (out of 165) and Nova Scotia with six (out of 20). “Purity ” and “diversity” cropped up repeatedly in BC wine lexicon – referring to landscape, grape varieties and wine styles. “We need to embrace our uniqueness”, commented Rhys Pender MW, who has his own Little Farm Winery in the Similkameen Valley. “Our soils range from sand to gravel and rock. Abundant sunlight and heat ripens grapes fully, but cool nights preserve the acidity. The interior’s desert climate also allows for growing sustainably. The vineyards get fewer pests, diseases and mildew problems than many other wine growing regions.”

Whether light and delicate or ripe and powerful, the wines maintain a fresh, fruity and vibrant style that partner so well with our west coast cuisine.

By no means my only choices, (most smaller wineries were not present) here are a handful of wines that span a range of wines that prove BC can step smartly onto the world’s oenological stage. BC wines have come a long way from the sweet grapey alcoholic “juice” made thirty-five years ago. It just goes to show BC wines are not “wild west wines anymore.”


Unsworth Charmes de L’Ile 2015

A blend of Vancouver island-grown Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and hardy hybrid Sauvignette grape, this “charming” tank fermented fizz possesses a stone-fruit appeal that goes anywhere Prosecco does – picnics, brunches and afternoon soirees. Pair with fresh fruits, shellfish or nothing at all.

Summerhill Cipes Rose Brut

From Summerhill’s inside-and-out certified organic winery. Pinot Noir grapes underscore this pink bubbly. Red berries and dried herb flavours drive this dry rose toward to house made charcuterie.

White Wines.

Wild Goose Stoney Slope Riesling

Sadly we lost BC wine industry pioneer Adolf Kruger, founder of Wild Goose vineyard, in 2016. Riesling was his love. His legacy lives on in the 1984 Okanagan Falls home pebbly vineyard that contributes to the Stoney Slope’s flint/peach-apricot/ slightly off-dry deliciousness. For Asian influenced dishes or German sausages and kraut.

Harpers Trail Pioneer Block Dry Riesling 2014

The first winery of four wineries in Kamloops, an “emerging” BC wine region. Limestone bedrock underpins wet stone and lemon-lime/green apple notes in this steely Riesling. A must for poached salmon or trout and pungent cheeses.

Haywire Switchback Organic Vineyard Pinot Gris 2015

Grapes are grown on silt sand and limestone rock in Summerland. Wild yeast ferment and concrete aging for ten-months add up to a lush, textured wine tasting faintly of tropical fruit and finishes crisp and even. An excellent aperitif wine or pair with grilled squid or the current poke craze.

Culmina Dilemma Chardonnay 2014

From Don Triggs’s (Yes. That Triggs) Culmina Winery in Oliver comes a young vine Chardonnay that blends old world and new world characteristics. Burgundian style chalk and zest back California style sweet butter, preserved lemon, and ripe peach flavours. Crack a fresh crab, spiny lobster or steam spot-prawns for this artfully crafted wine.

Red Wines

Meyer McLean Vineyard McLean Creek Pinot Noir 2015

More an old-world than a new-world style of Pinot Noir, from Meyer’s Okanagan Falls home site. Firm, spicy, slightly earthy with ripe cherry/raspberry flavours that beg for roast duck, wild mushroom strudel or for lying away for a few years.

Laughing Stock Perfect Hedge Syrah 2014

Roasted meat, black pepper and crunchy Okanagan Valley black fruits, backed by firm acidity bring this ideal Syrah into well-balanced fleshy play. Grilled or roasted herb-crusted lamb please or even better, game.

Bartier Brothers Cabernet Franc 2014

Veteran BC winemaker Mike Bartier avoids the lean, mean and green that can happen so often with Cab Franc. His wine is a firm elegant savoury number that I like for green peppercorn crusted and grilled tuna.

Osoyoos Larose Grand Vin 2013

A business collaboration between Bordeaux and BC. This classic Bordeaux blend from BC grapes nails cassis notes, well-managed oak and a lifted wine that will benefit from a few years in the cellar and medium rare steak.


Pictured above: Laughing Stock Vineyards Naramata Vineyard.
















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