After long being considered a
producer of inferior wines, British Columbia has finally been
recognized as a winemaking powerhouse.
The wine from British Columbia dates back only 140 years when Father
Pandosy set up the first vineyards at the Obelate Mission near
Kelowna. In nineteen twenty-six the first commercial vineyard and a
winery sold to the general public.
The main wine-growing region in this Canadian province is composed
of the Okanagan and Similkameen Valley in the south-central region.
While the total land and freshwater area of British Columbia is
larger than France and Germany combined, with approximately 5,500
acres under cultivation on fewer than 100 wineries the area is tiny
by comparison to France, Italy or even Spain.
The Okanagan Lake fills a large portion of the valley floor and
moderates the heat in this semi-arid desert region. The soil is of
glacial stone, fine sand, silt and clay in the north, and sand and
gravel in the south. This soil produced Bordeaux varieties of
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, as well as the German
Siegerrebe, Sylvaner and Ortega. The most commonly planted are
Merlot and Chardonnay, but Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and
Gewurztraminer are grown also.
Vintners have ideal conditions for producing award winning wines
because the climate is governed by the region's proximity to the
Coast Mountain Range which produces hot, dry summers, ample hours of
sun and low humidity.
The wineries of the Okanagan Valley produce 95% of British
Columbia's wine. They have only six inches of rainfall annually in
the south and sixteen in the north making it no mean feat.
Especially considering that most vineyards, on average are less than
10 years old.
Crisp, fruity whites are most often produced in the German off-dry
style, however there are many produced in French tradition as well.
The reds of this area have advanced in recent years with the Pinot
Noir producing an enviable medium-bodied drink from this finicky
grape. Regardless of its small size, British Columbia boasts a range
of dessert wines, also, with flavors of plum, blueberry, raspberry
British Columbia counts among its exports a highly respected
German-style ice-wine made from grapes picked and crushed while
frozen. In the last 30 years Canada has become on of the world's
largest producers of this unusual drink that has been a German
specialty for 200 years.
Whites vary from the honeyed Riesling with a citrus aftertaste to
the Gray Monk Pinot Gris, a recent favorite. The early ripening
Merlot with tones of plum and coffee aftertaste will not disappoint
the lover of red, nor will the later Cabernet Suavignon from the
Tiny Vancouver Island, a relative newcomer, is also getting into the
act and experimenting with Ehrenfelser, Muscat, Siegerrebe and other
exotic varieties. Most of these 135 acres are planted on hillside
vineyards that serve 10 small wineries. However, look for great
things in the future.
Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.
Sip of Wine
Wine Aging Table
Wine and Cheese
Wine and Health
British Columbia, Canada
Cotes Du Rhone