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The 2020 Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Award winners are in

Gavin & Shana Miller of Upper Bench Estate Winery are the 2020 winners of the annual B.C. Lt. Governor Awards award for Wine of the Year!
Gavin & Shana Miller of Upper Bench Estate Winery are the 2020 winners of the annual B.C. Lt. Governor Awards award for Wine of the Year!

The third annual 2020 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards were announced last night by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. The big winner of the 2020 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year Award went to Upper Bench Estate Winery’s 2019 Riesling.

Gavin and Shana Miller of Upper Bench Estate Winery operate their vineyard and cheesemaking facility on the outskirts of Penticton just before the Naramata Bench. There they are creating outstanding wines and cheeses and have become a destination for locals and visitors.

The Upper Bench 2019 Riesling is the big winner!
The Upper Bench 2019 Riesling is the big winner!

The press release shared the top wines that received platinum medals (below) with the full list of winners is available at: www.thewinefestivals.com.

Lake Breeze Vineyards Riesling 2017
Tantalus Vineyards Old Vines Riesling 2017
O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars Riesling 2019
Arrowleaf Cellars Pinot Noir 2018
SpearHead Winery Pinot Noir Saddle Block 2018
SpearHead Winery Pinot Noir Cuvée 2018
Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2018
Therapy Vineyards Chardonnay 2018
Terravista Vineyards Albariño 2019
Deep Roots Winery Parentage Red 2018
Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrah 2017
Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah 2017
Moraine Estate Winery Syrah 2018
Three Sisters Winery Syrah 2018
Deep Roots Winery Syrah 2018

The annual awards provide an opportunity for B.C. wineries to compete. The awards were created in 2018, when the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, with support from the Government House Foundation, and the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society announced a new partnership to celebrate B.C. wines with the creation of the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.

“We look forward to building on this important relationship each year," says Okanagan Wine Festivals Society General Manager, Elan Morris, “and we were thrilled last night to have Her Honour, Janet Austin, be a part of the virtual awards ceremony and announce the 2020 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year.”

“As this competition continues to grow, we are seeing not only the number of entries increase but more importantly the caliber of wines entered continues to get better each year,” says Okanagan Wine Festivals Society Judging Chair, Julian Scholefield. “Our expert panel of judges certainly had their work cut out for them!  We look forward to celebrating the list of 2020 winning wines that showcase the excellence our region has to offer and to growing the competition even more in 2021.”

The competition, presented by Valley First, TricorBraun, Westland Insurance and ContainerWorld, was open to all licensed BC wineries including those that produce fruit wines and mead. Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals were awarded. The top one per cent of medal winners received platinum medals, with one wine receiving the 2020 BC Lieutenant Governor's Award for Wine of the Year.

This year’s wine entries faced an esteemed panel of judges from across Canada.

Brad Royale – Calgary
DJ Kearney - Vancouver
Emily Walker – Summerland
Gurvinder Bhatia – Edmonton
Iain Philip – Vancouver
Justin Yamasaki, Vancouver
Kurtis Kolt - Vancouver
Matthew Landry – Vancouver
Mark Filatow - Kelowna
Michaela Morris – Vancouver
Rhys Pender – Kelowna
Sebastien Le Goff – Vancouver
Sid Cross – Vancouver
Veronique Rivest – Gatineau

After tasting over 740 wines, the judges awarded a record number of medals to 107 BC wineries that were recognized last night during a virtual award ceremony. Rafe Mair was also honoured with the annual Harry McWatters Founders Award. The award was given posthumously to Mair in recognition of his leadership in the creation of estate winery licenses in 1979.  While there were many people who helped promote the idea of smaller estate wineries, it was Mair in his capacity as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs who brought the legislation forward to the Bennett government.


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