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Superb Sips: A Taste of BC’s Thriving Wine Scene

By TIM PAWSEY
May 2019

Photo ©Klarka0608/shutterstock.com

Fancy a glass of BC pinot gris, pinot noir or bacchus? No problem! But it wasn’t always that way.

The local wine scene is blossoming, in part thanks to a changing climate, but also due to significant advances in viticulture. As well, winemaking expertise from regions around the world has contributed much to BC’s relatively new wine scene. Just 45 minutes from downtown, the Fraser Valley is home to some 15 grape wineries (as well as fruit wineries, cideries and meaderies). They include Chaberton Estate (the valley’s first winery, established in 1991), Township 7, Backyard Vineyards and Vista d’Oro, all in Langley, as well as Abbottsford’s Singletree Winery. Chaberton is also home to a delightful French bistro and ideal lunch stop, adjacent to the vineyard and rolling hills.

Thirty years ago, just 14 licensed wineries formed the foundation of the industry. Now some 280 grape wineries produce wine from almost 1,000 vineyards in nine official wine regions. You can find them everywhere from the Okanagan Valley (five hours east of Vancouver) to the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, Lillooet (north of Whistler) and beyond.

When colder winters, later frosts, and cooler coastal summers were the norm, it was challenging to ripen most red varieties, except in the South Okanagan. Today, however, across much of southern BC, pinot noir and other red varieties are now grown. White vinifera are also widely grown, with an emphasis on cool-climate aromatics on the coast.

The best way to experience the valley is to leave the driving to someone else. Why not spend a day or afternoon touring and tasting with a knowledgeable guide? Tours are offered by Swallow Tail Tours, Canadian Craft Tours and Lawrence Tours, among others.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

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