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'Unique terroir': B.C. wine labels will now recognize smaller growing regions in Okanagan


To better define the characteristics that distinguish Okanagan wines from one another, six new areas in the valley will soon be highlighted on bottles of B.C. wine.

The new labels will highlight Lake Country, two parts of the Kelowna area and three regions in Summerland, according to a press release from the Minister of Agriculture and Food issued today, June 28.

"It's great to see more recognition for our high-quality Okanagan Valley wines and for the region's wine makers and grape growers, many who have been part of the valley for generations," Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food, said in the release.

"B.C. wines tell the story of the people who make it and the unique places it comes from. By putting a spotlight on six new growing regions and their distinct wines, we are continuing to help B.C. wines grow in popularity on the world's stage while giving a boost to the local economy."

The regions will be highlighted as sub-geographical indications, a term the province has protected under the law to help drinkers know where grapes were grown, as each of the clearly-defined boundaries have subtle differences in growing conditions.

"When a bottle of BC VQA wine is purchased, the consumer knows they have a bottle of assured quality and origin that is 100% B.C.," Miles Prodan, president Wine Growers British Columbia said in the release.

"Today's approval of six new sub-GIs in the Okanagan Valley, a region known for having diverse soil types, climatic conditions and resulting styles of wine, represents official recognition of areas that stand out as having consistently unique terroir. The introduction of sub-regions of notable sense of place is the natural next step in the evolution of our wine industry, and a win for consumers and wine growers alike."

READ MORE: Golden Mile Bench is a thing; dream becomes reality for some Okanagan wineries

In Lake Country, there is 2,500 hectares of vineyards along approximately 20 kilometres of Okanagan Lake’s eastern shoreline. Wineries in the region include 50th Parallel Estate Vineyard, Gray Monk Estate Winery, Arrowleaf Cellars, O'Rourke Family Vineyards, Peak Cellars, Ex Nihilo Winery and Intrigue Winery.

"O'Rourke Family Vineyards has always been dedicated to being 100% estate grown and 100% Lake Country," Stephanie Stanley, winemaker at Peak Cellars said in the release.

"As the ones who initiated the sub-GI process, along with a dedicated team of fellow Lake Country grape growers and wineries, we are thrilled to officially celebrate Lake Country as a sub-GI. Both O'Rourke Family Estate and Peak Cellars wineries are proud to state Lake Country on 100% of our labels, recognizing that our vineyards are planted within a very special area in the north Okanagan Valley."

Kelowna’s regions will be the East Kelowna Slopes and South Kelowna Slopes.

The East Kelowna Slopes have approximately 2,900 hectares stretching along the lower reaches of Mission Creek and its canyon. Wineries include Camelot Vineyard, House of Rose Winery, Kitsch Winery, Mirabel Vineyards, Priest Creek Winery, Sperling Winery, Tantalus Winery, The View Winery and Vibrant Vines Winery.

The South Kelowna Slopes, approximately 800 hectares, are in the South Mission area and overlook Okanagan Lake. Wineries included are Burnt Timber Vineyard, Cedar Creek Winery, Martin's Lane Winery, St. Hubertus Vineyards, Summerhill Winery and Scorched Earth Winery.

READ MORE: Three new wine regions proposed for Central Okanagan

The other three regions are the Summerland Bench, Summerland Lakefront and Summerland Valleys.

Summerland Bench has around 60 hectares of vineyards near Giant's Head Mountain, which include Summerland Bench, Dirty Laundry Vineyard, Giant's Head Winery, Lightning Rock Winery, Lunessence Winery, Sumac Ridge Winery and Thornhaven Winery.

The Summerland Lakefront, 805 hectares, sits along the western shore of Okanagan Lake and is home to 8th Generation Winery, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, Heaven's Gate Winery, Sage Hills Winery and Summerland Estate Winery.

Summerland Valleys have 1,350 hectares in the areas known as Prairie Valley and Garnett Valley, and includes SummerGate Winery.

B.C. now has nine official geographical indications in the province and 12 sub-GIs. These labels mean the wine was produced with at least 95% of grapes grown from those regions.

Check out maps of the new sub-regions here.

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