British Columbia is a very young grape-growing region, but with over 240 grape wineries and many exceptional wines you’re bound to see the beauty of this west coast wine region and discover some excellent bottles to share with friends.
British Columbia’s climate is very unique and not replicated in any other grapegrowing region in the world. The Okanagan Valley, the largest of BC’s wine regions, is located about 4 hours east of Vancouver. Okanagan summers bring desert-like climate, so it is hot and dry – the sun and heat make for ideal growing conditions. In the south, around Oliver and Osoyoos, you’ll find Canada’s only desert, which is good news for certain red grapes. To the north, temperatures are cooler, more suitable for growing white grape varietals.
To the west of the Okanagan, is the Similkameen Valley, also known as the organic capital of Canada. The dry heat, long hours of sunshine and gusty winds are ideal conditions for organic agriculture.
On the coast, the Fraser Valley, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island designated viticulture areas (DVAs) have cooler climates that excel at producing lower yields and cooler climate varietals.
You’ll find everything from sparkling to white to rosé to red and even fortified wines. BC produces 51% red wine and 49% white grapes. Did you know that Vancouver has one of the highest per capita wine consumption rates in North America? Just ask them about the quality of BC wines.
This year, the BC Vintner’s Quality Alliance, or BC VQA, will celebrate 25 years of guaranteeing that the wine was grown and produced 100% in British Columbia, from grapes to bottle,. Look for the BC VQA guarantee right on the bottle.
When you’re looking at buying a bottle of wine from BC, look for a few key things
- The grape variety
- The vineyard or region (Estate bottled means that all the grapes come entirely from vineyards owned or leased by the winery)
- The vintage
- And be sure to look for the BC VQA stamp of approval
Pinot Gris, a medium bodied and delicious varietal is the most planted white grape with Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Viognier also available. Icewine and Botrytis affected Late Harvest wines are also produced. When it comes to red wine, Merlot is the most widely planted, followed by Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cab Franc.
Now, it’s time to really get excited because as of this month there will be many more wines from BC for you to try and buy in your local wine store. With such great quality and diversity, you’ll be sure to grow your appreciation and love for British Columbia wineries. As Canadians, we can be proud to support our local wine industry.
Cheers to drinking and supporting BC Wine! To find out more about BC Wines, click here.