Back from some interesting days as one of nine judges for the yearly BC Wine Awards as part of the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival (www.thewinefestivals.com/wine_awards/british-columbia-wine-awards). Good to catch up with my old time friend Dan Berger from Santa Rosa in California who also does the Riverside International Wine Competition (www.riwc.net).
I continue to be impressed with the progress being made by BC wines. After 2 cooler vintages of 2010 and 2011 favouring whites and earlier ripening reds the warming trend of 2012 and especially 2013 has returned. As the picking continues currently it looks like this year should produce some of the very best late ripening red wines ever for the region!
You will see the worthy winners for this year’s BC Wine Awards listed on the website.
Riesling and chenin blanc especially both varieties from older vines (35+ years) are doing exceptionally well for whites. Syrah, cabernet franc, and pinot noir are improving every vintage and some examples are nearing world class.
Always a sense of pride to get outside endorsement and Mission Hill Family Estate Martin’s Lane pinot noir 2011 has done that. It just won in London, England the Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show pinot noir priced under 15 pounds. Pretty good for an unknown wine region in a competition of 14,000 wines from 61 world wine regions.
Check out some of these improving BC wines! Have you tried any BC wines you enjoyed or that you would recommend?
Unfortunately with our interprovincial barriers, we don’t get a great selection of BC wines in Ontario but we do enjoy trying what we are able to.
We enjoyed our first exposure to BC wines in Vancouver at the IW&FS International Festival, yet we never see these wines in Houston; YET. I remember enjoying wines from Burrowing Owl, Quails Gate, and Foxtrot, among others, at a tasting you hosted so beautifully.
I also enjoyed the Okanagon tasting in Vancouver. As the other responders have said, it is hard, if not impossible, to find these wines outside of BC. Are the winemakers interested in expanding production to reach export markets?
I also was very impressed with the Okanagon wines we had in Vancouver. I also agree with the other responders that these wines are impossible to find outside of BC. Are the BC winemakers interested in expanding to reach export markets?
Chris, although I am a member of the Grand Cayman Branch, I own a winery in the Okanagan and so I can provide a little insight here.
There are five large wineries here (like Mission Hill) and about 200 smaller wineries (like our own 4,000 case winery) The big players all export wheras virtually none of the smaller ones do. The reason is the land available for agricultural use here is so small that we easily sell out all wine made from our locally sourced grapes. The larger wineries import juice and sell huge amounts of non VQA wine at sub $15 prices. The smaller wineries grow their own ( on land that is all over $100,000 per acre) and mainly produce VQA wines that sell for more than $15. When your costs are in the $8-9 a bottle range, it’s hard to even get excited about selling in private or Govt stores yet alone competing in the export market. We, for instance sell virtually all our production in our winery store. Wineries like Mission Hill, with their $60,000,000 building have other goals in mind!
Sid, I also really liked the Okanagon tasting and agree with Brian and Mike that the wines are unavailable outside of BC. Are the BC winemakers expanding to try and reach export markets? If not, why are they competing in England against 14k wines?