Now that winter is officially over, all we have to say is: bring on the spring sunshine and local wine. And with April being BC Wine Month, there’s literally never been a better time to discover new local gems for sipping through the warmer months.
As British Columbians, we’re proud to have one of the world’s most exciting and burgeoning wine scenes right in our backyard. In recent decades, BC wines have come a long way — elevating their quality and production to win over consumers and critics on an international level.
In the 90s, the British Columbia Vintner Quality Alliance (BC VQA) was inaugurated to ensure local wines were 100% grown, made, and bottled in BC. The shift enabled the industry to truly modernize itself and gain popularity. Since then, the number of wineries has gone from 17 to 370 — that’s over 10,000 acres dedicated to making everything from table wine to sparkling and ice wine.
The region’s incredible growth over such a short period of time is surely something worth celebrating. So, this April, raise a glass with one (or many) of these stunning BC wines.
Hailing from West Kelowna, Mission Hill is known for creating world-class and award-winning wines that have put BC’s wine region on the map. Power and elegance in a glass, their Reserve Merlot delivers lush flavours of blackberry, plum, black cherry, mocha, and spice with a ripe, medium- to full-bodied palate. It’s best paired with grilled red meats, portobello mushrooms, pot roast or roasted lamb.
Gray Monk Winery has been around since the early 70s in Lake Country and was one of the first to plant pinot gris in Canada. Today, Gray Monk’s Pinot Gris is one of the top-selling BC VQA wines in the province — and for good reason. This impressive wine is lush with aromas and flavours of pear, apple, white peach, citrus peel, and fine herbs with a polished texture and juicy acidity. It’s lovely for sipping on its own (especially during the sunny seasons) or paired with shellfish, smoked salmon, and roast chicken.
Made only using grapes from their six distinct BC vineyards, Sandhill’s Cabernet Merlot offers a rich bouquet of ripe plums, blackcurrants, smoky oak, leather, and black pepper spice — complemented by an expansive, medium- to full-bodied palate of rich red and black fruits. The wine has soft tannins, balanced acidity, and an exquisitely lingering finish.
The vines from Quails’ Gate’s Chasselas spans as far back as 1961. BC’s local climate being amenable to this Swiss grape variety, they blossomed into the white blend we know and love today. The wine makes for bright, fresh, and fruit-forward sipping that serves up flavours of nectarine, Asian pear, green apple, and white flowers with striking acidity. It’s great for savouring outdoors and paired with grilled fare or mild cheeses.
Located at the northern tip of the Sonoran Desert, the scorching mid-summer climate of this region makes for high-calibre, distinct red wines. Black Sage Vineyard’s Cabernet Franc is beautifully rich, ripe, and bold with depths of black cherry, plum, and blackberry flavours that are accented by notes of dried sage, smoke, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Try sipping alongside beef short ribs, rack of lamb, or mushroom dishes for a marvellous match.
One of the first wineries to establish itself in BC, Wild Goose is highly acclaimed for its white wines. Don’t let the label fool you — their Autumn Gold is a perennial BC favourite that’s perfect for spring and summer sipping. The blend is equal parts riesling, gewürztraminer, and pinot blanc, delivering flavours of nectarine, apple, pear, and tangerine with hints of candied ginger and rose petal. Pour yourself a glass on an evening when you’re cooking (or ordering) roast chicken, savoury pies, or sushi.
See Ya Later Ranch’s story goes way back to 1920 when the land the vineyard sits on now — near the south end of Skaha Lake — was first purchased. The vineyard’s slope, proximity to the lake, warm days and cool evenings all encourage healthy ripening of cool weather varieties including pinot noir, riesling, and gewürztraminer. Their pinot noir is bursting with aromas and flavours of strawberries, cherries, baking spices, and toastiness — making it an ideal pairing for baked salmon, roasted pork tenderloin, or stuffed mushrooms.
Located in Summerland, Dirty Laundry Vineyard is a family-owned winery that has mastered the art of combining well-made wines with fun, cheeky labels. Their delicious rosé is made from merlot, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon melded with a cold soak of pinot gris on skins for 12 to 24 hours before fermentation. It has flavours of freshly picked strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and grapefruit that finish with a kiss of sweetness. We love pairing it with summer staples, like smoked salmon and fresh salad.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery — one of BC’s most-visited wineries and a popular producer of sparkling wine — was established by the Cipes family in 1986. In 1988, the winery entered the certified organic system, and their wine has been certified organic since Canada released a national standard for organic wine in 2007. Their Cipes Brut has been acclaimed since it was first released in 1992 and is made from organic riesling, chardonnay, and pinot blanc grapes using the same traditional method as champagne. This classic Okanagan sparkler has a soft, creamy mousse with flavours of ripe orchard fruits.
In 1985, Gehringer was built on the Golden Mile Bench between Oliver and Osoyoos. The family-owned estate was one of the earliest to establish itself in the Okanagan Valley and is known for producing wines that are consistently cherished and highly-awarded. Their Signature Riesling Icewine is a knockout dessert wine with its scrumptious and lip-smacking bursts of honey-drenched flavours of peach, apricot, grapefruit, and green apple contrasted by its vibrant acidity.
To discover these local wines and more, you can visit your local BC Liquor Store location. To find one near you, watch virtual events, or read the latest issue of TASTE magazine, you can check out BCLiquorStores.com.
For the latest updates on releases and tips on what to drink, you can also follow @BCLiquorStores on Instagram.
As always, please remember drinks are best enjoyed when they’re enjoyed responsibly.