British Columbia is on the bucket list for many reasons. From the slopes of Whistler to the views from the Rocky Mountaineer, spotting orcas in the Inside Passage and exploring Vancouver’s varied culinary delights. There is one more reason to head to Canada’s west coast: wine. British Columbia is home to five distinct wine regions, including 929 vineyards and 341 licensed wineries. From the shores of the Gulf Islands to Vancouver’s Fraser Valley and the Okanagan Valley further west, British Columbia wine is diverse and delicious, attracting wine makers and connoisseurs from all around the world.
If you’re a fan of B.C wine already, chances are it’s come from here; 82 per cent of vineyards in B.C are in the Okanagan. Stretching over 250 kilometres, the valley is home to unique sub-climates, suitable for cultivating a range of grape varietals. You can drive through the region yourself, or join a tour, taking in the stunning scenery while someone else does the driving. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of red or if white is your tipple of choice, because the best wines to come out of the Okanagan are merlot, pinot gris, pinot noir and chardonnay.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Similkameen Valley, but a trip to British Columbia definitely deserves a stop here. A valley of fertile vineyards with a backdrop of dramatic mountains, a drive through the valley is as picturesque as it is delicious. Despite its somewhat recent emersion as a world-class wine region, grapes have been grown in the Similkameen Valley for decades. The best tipples you’ll find here are merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and the token white, chardonnay.
A hop, skip and a jump from downtown Vancouver, the Fraser Valley is one of the most popular wine destinations in the province. Wineries cater to day trippers with excellent culinary offerings, tasting tours and farm tours, both self drive and tour-operated. It’s not all wine however, the Fraser Valley is the heart of British Columbia’s agricultural activity. 38 licensed wineries are nestled between dairy farms and market farms, so there’s plenty to discover beyond the wine. Fraser Valley produces a wide variety of wines including blattner Reds and hybrids, blattner whites and hybrids, pinot noir and bacchus.
It might be the newest and smallest of British Columbia’s wine regions, with just 13 licensed wineries, but the Gulf Islands offer a unique climate for unpretentious, unhurried wines. Producing pinot noir, pinot gris, Ortega and merechal foch amongst others, the Gulf Islands wineries are definitely worth a visit. Escape the everyday for island time and a lifestyle that savours the good things in life.
A wonderful destination for its untouched beauty and wildlife experiences, Vancouver Island also offers a unique seaside climate for a variety of grapes. Wines were first produced on the island in 1920, from local loganberries. Today the most popular varietals produced are pinot noir, pinot gris, Ortega and marechal foch, similar to those on the Gulf Islands nearby. As should be the way with all wine regions, Vancouver Island has an excellent culinary scene to compliment the local drops.