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Is There a Distinctly “Vancouver” Watch?
We love the Okanagan, but these days wineries are springing up everywhere in the province.
B.C.’s wine regions used to be easy to corral: start in Vernon and drive south until you hit the border and that was that. Then came Vancouver Island, a few on the Gulf Islands and the Similkameen. But these days, brand-new regions are popping up all over the place, offering value and surprising quality. Here’s your annotated map to help keep score.
The Skinny While the Cowichan Valley is already firmly entrenched as one of the province’s key wine regions, the Comox Valley, two hours north on the Island High-way, is still largely unknown—or at least it was until Titanic’s James Cameron and wife Suzy Amis rolled into town a few years back and bought the Beaufort Winery.The Bottle 40 Knots L’Orange 2015, $43. A natural wine take on the Schönberger grape, this bracing orange wine was one of the most exciting bottles made in B.C. last year.
The Skinny You know what’s past Whistler? No, not Pemberton—past that. It’s Lillooet, a region that has towering mountains but also the summer heat required to properly ripen grapes. The sole pioneers here are Dutch ex-pats Rolf de Bruin and Heleen Pannekoek, who have single-handedly turned Fort Berens—with a new, beautiful tasting room and restaurant—into one of the great B.C. wine success stories of the past five years.The Bottle Riesling 2015, $17. $17? Seriously? This is how you build a winery, folks: low price for a wine that over-delivers with an off-dry take on crisp apples.
The Skinny The ’Loops has long played the role of Andrew Ridgeley to Kelowna’s George Michael in the public’s affection, but of late the town is making up the stagger in the wine department. Two standout wineries—Harper’s Trail and Monte Creek—are leading the quality charge.The Bottle Harper’s Trail Cabernet Franc 2015, $26. A fresh, impossibly bright wine that tastes like it was born in the Loire Valley. Monte Creek’s Rosé (made of 100-percent marquette) is also a wonderful standout.
The Skinny While technically not an emerging region —they’ve been growing grapes since 1991—the Fraser Valley is emerging as a good wine region. Recent upgrades in both winemaking talent and varietal selection mean that Vancouverites now have a bona fide wine region in our backyard.The Bottle Singletree Siegerrebe 2015, $19. Luxuriously perfumed with peach and lychee, this off-dry example comes from grapes actually grown here. The gamay from Chaberton is also worth a visit.
The Skinny Creston is famous as the home of Kokanee, but it’s also the epicentre of a burgeoning wine region. And while Columbia Gardens was the first to make wine in these parts, it was the 2006 arrival of Baillie-Grohman and their ambitious wines that really put this isolated area on the map.The Bottle Estate Pinot Noir 2013, $22. A ripe, fruit-forward expression of the heartbreak grape.