A Golden Day for the Golden Mile

I’ve just returned from a few weeks in Australia, travelling and tasting through the vast country’s wine regions, and experiencing the distinct regionality and terroir that neighbouring regions express. It’s clearly evident that place matters, and producers are proud to reflect their soils and vines in their wines.

Back here at home, in another hemisphere and season, our local wine industry is also honing in on location, with the official acceptance and move forward toward BC’s first sub-appellation, the first step in divving up the confusingly large Okanagan Valley Geographical Indication (GI) that stretches from Osoyoos all the way north past Kelowna.

After many years of talking, many months of research, planning and applying and more months waiting, the BC Wine Authority has just approved a winery-led application for a Golden Mile Sub-Geographical Indication. In their brief but important statement released last month, the BCWA recommended that Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick approve the application and allow wineries within the geographical, soil-based boundary to put an exclusive label on their wines : Golden Mile Bench. It’s a valuable tool in defining the soils and terroir of the area; as an official sub GI, it’s realized that the region is a unique geographical area that produces unique wine.


The total Golden Mile bench is approximately 1,500 acres in size, with nearly 800 acres covered in vines. No change comes without contention. Because the area is scientifically determined by geographic and soil boundaries, some wineries on the “Golden Mile Tourist Wine Route” have now been excluded from the new sub-GI.

For the wineries that do fall within the boundaries, they will have to ensure that wines contain a minimum of 95% grapes grown in this region. It’s not about where the winery facility is located, it’s about the vines. In this day and age where transparency and authenticity is key, it’s the first step to allowing consumers to know and learn about what they’re drinking. Hopefully this paves the way for other regions to fill out the paperwork and prepare an appellation – certainly Naramata Bench, Okanagan Falls and Black Sage Bench, among others – would have a strong case for sub-GI status.

“It allows consumers to know more about where their grapes come from,” said BCWA chairman Jeffrey Thomas. “It’s something that, these days, consumers are very interested in.”

The Golden Mile Sub-GI wineries would include:

Fairview Cellars
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery
Hester Creek
Road 13
Tinhorn Creek
CC Jentsch Cellars
Culmina Family Estate Winery
CheckMate Artisanal Winery
Rustico Farm and Cellars

For this week’s DRINK This and to celebrate Golden Mile Bench’s golden hour, I’ve selected 5 wines (that may soon be sporting new labels) to toast with.

CC Jentsch Cellars
Syrah 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$29  +861971

From a relatively new producer on the Golden Mile Bench comes this stylish and supple syrah, a key grape for the region. Co-fermented with a splash of viognier, the black flowers, vanillan and peppery cassis notes of the syrah are well integrated, working with the subtly spiced wood and fresh acidity. Partner with lamb medallions or kabobs. Nice balance here – promising start from this winery. 88 points.


Gehringer Brothers
Private Reserve Pinot Gris 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
$15  +347203

White peach, pear and meyer lemon open to a brightly coloured palate of tart and crispy citrus, mild honey, juicy gooseberry and herbal grapefruit. Scents of thyme bush float atop the spicy finish. A versatile food wine, pour with white fish, salmon or creamed pastas. 87 points


Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Merlot 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
$20   +530725

Ripe raspberry jam, smoked plum, coffee and medicinal cherry. Huge, chewy tannins and a warm, suntanned hewn oak texture make it a solid choice for your grilled ribs or meaty burgers. 87 points


Road 13 Vineyards
Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2013
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$24  +450890

Love the complexity here – this is not a straightforward and easy wine, and one that may need a few sips and some time to get into. Herbal, savoury, lemon thistle aromas before an oily and dry palate of honey blossom, wild herbs, straw, citrus and soaring acidity. 89 points.


Hester Creek Estate Winery
Pinot Gris 2013
Okanagan Valley, BC
$18  +560037

Spiced pear, white florals and juicy citrus fill the glass, along with bright and fragrant stone fruit, a heavy hand of fresh desert herbs and a lemon drop finish. Medium bodied, can take on your chicken salad sandwich. 87 points.

DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores. The price is suggested retail price, and may fluctuate depending on source. Wines are scored out of 100 points.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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