Did you know that B.C. is one of the most-talked about wine regions anywhere? Although we make a minuscule amount of wine compared to the rest of the world (and by that I mean that we bottle only a few million of the world’s annual 2.8 billion cases), we have captured the attention of globally important critics as well as the wine loving public. In 2014 the Okanagan Valley, was voted USA Today’s 2nd Best Wine Region to Visit. We are often described as the secret wine region you need to know! Here’s why.
1. We are small, special, and distinctive. Our five official designated wine regions (the Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and Gulf Islands) all possess unique growing conditions that come across loud and clear in the wine. The word for this is the term terroir - which is essentially regional identity that can be articulated by wine. Our BC wines are capable of transmitting a strong identity that reflects our northern latitude, climate characteristics, and soils. Marginal is the word. We grow grapes in extreme conditions, on a viticultural knifedge.
2. Scarcity is a virtue. We are small with under 5,000 hectares of vines. To compare, Bordeaux has 120,000 hectares planted, and Australia has over 135,000. Even New Zealand has nearly eight times as many planted vineyards, with 37,000 hectares. So, we are small, even miniscule. And small is of great interest to the wine world, because wines made in geographically petite regions are generally more precise, and can transmit a sense of place with accuracy and eloquence.
Here are some quick facts:
- 10,260 acres/4,152 hectares of vineyards planted throughout the province
- 276 licensed wine grape wineries
- Wineries by region:
- Okanagan Valley - 172
- Vancouver Island - 37
- Fraser Valley - 36
- Similkameen Valley - 19
- Gulf Islands - 13
- Emerging Regions - 6
- 929 grape growers
- 80 different grapes planted
- Most planted red grape is Merlot; white grape is Pinot Gris
- $246 million dollars generated annually by British Columbia wine industry tourism
3. Sheer beauty! From the sparkling blue lakes, the rugged terrain of deep green valleys, curved slopes and sheer cliffs, groomed orchards, and the aromatic black sage vegetation, our winelands are jaw-droppingly stunning.
Here are some head-turning BC wines for you to try that show our exciting diversity of style and high quality. When you sip, look for the conjunction of incredibly ripe fruit flavours and crisp natural acidity. That’s our signature - that, and a little hint of sage herbal nuance!