We’ve always known BC wines were delicious and unique. Many a local and visitor have become accustomed to certain flavours, aromas and mouth feels of wines from specific areas in the province. And while wine drinkers know that several of the Okanagan’s wine growing areas produce distinctive wines, now the government of British Columbia has recognized these subtle and not-so-subtle differences.
There are nine appellations in BC including: Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, Kootenays, Lillooet, Shuswap, Similkameen Valley, Thompson Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley.
As of May 2019, there are officially four distinct sub-appellations in the Okanagan. Wineries located in the Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench join Okanagan Falls and the Golden Mile Bench as official sub-appellations. That means these wines can now state on their labels that 95 per cent of the grapes in the bottle come from their specific area.
For those who don’t know, Naramata Bench is on the east side of Okanagan Lake just outside of Penticton. Skaha Bench encompasses the area about 10 kilometres from the outskirts of Penticton and along the eastern shore of Skaha Lake. Both of these new sub-appellations have a terroir that is quite distinguishable, even to a novice wine drinker.
As the Minister of Agriculture’s office said in a media release, “When wineries add area-specific labels to bottles, they help customers relate to the unique terroir in their specific area, while increasing exposure to wine and agri-tourism.”
There are approximately 60 different grape varieties grown in BC. It’s estimated they win about 2,000 medals/awards per year at national and international competitions. That’s a lot of award-winning wine to sip and savour as you discover your next favourite vintage, or check out the latest releases of your go-to wines.
Whether you visit the wineries directly, or purchase your wines from a specialty or liquor store, you’re sure to enjoy the diversity of flavours that accompany all our BC wines.