Description 1 of 2

 

British Columbia in the western part of Canada has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a wine region. European settlers in the 1800s attempted to work with vinifera plantings, but the grapes could not withstand the extremes in temperature, succombing to diseases and fungus in the summer and freezing to death in the winter. Labrusca varietals such as Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir, and Concord were able to withstand the environment, but the wines were pretty “funky,” to say the least, and never had much success outside of Canada.
 
In the 1960s and 70s, with a consumer shift toward higher quality wines and the invention of modern viticultural technologies and techniques, wine-makers in British Columbia were able to step up their game and work with more popular vinifera grapes. The British Columbia Wine Institute (BC VQA) was founded in 1990 to control viticultural qualilty and promote local wines. The label VQA ensures 100% of growth and production takes place in British Columbia, using the APO, Appellation of Origin, system.
 
The majority of British Columbian wines are produced in the Okanagan Valley, which sees varying favorable microclimates, with very warm and dry summer temperatures, balanced by cool evenings. A mix of soil types is also seen throughout British Columbia, between clay and silt, sand, rocky conditions and mineral-rich glacial deposits. 
 
The Okanagan Valley specializes in Bordeaux style varietals and blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Syrah has also become popular. In the north of the valley, cooler temperatures are most conducive to producing white German varietals such Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Other parts of British Columbia produce Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay. As in most of Canada, Cabernet Franc is a leading red grape throughout British Columbia, showing great range of expression from light to full-bodied, fruity and herbal to rich and concentrated. Sparkling wines are also popular, especially in cooler zones. Though temperatures are not quite as frigid as in other parts of Canada, some Icewine is produced here. 
 
The subregions of British Columbia are:
 
*Okanagan Valley
*Similkameen Valley, which is increasingly focused on organic and sustainable practices.
*Fraser Valley
*Vancouver Island
*Gulf Islands ~Amanda Schuster
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

Canada’s westernmost province is among the fastest growing New World wine regions. Those who think that British Columbia is only known for great skiing and golf should think again. At last count, the number of BC wineries was nearing 100, with a good number of new ones pending. British Columbia is now catching international attention for the world-class wines that are being made in the provinces four recognized ‘Designated Viticultural Areas’ (DVAs): Okanagan Valley, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, and the Similkameen Valley. Bar far the most productive region is the Okanagan Valley where the province’s first wineries were founded. In total, approximately 5,500 acres of vines are planted, growing mainly French-style vinifera varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah. There are also some German-style varieties like Gewurztraminer and Riesling. The Vintner’s Quality Alliance (VQA) label / medallion on a bottle assures that the wine is based solely on B.C. fruit. To secure the VQA designation wineries must follow strict guidelines, from grape varieties allowed and geographic specificity, to brix levels at harvest time, followed by random laboratory checks and tasting review. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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