These award-winning BC wineries will change your life...or at least your next vacation!


By Claire Newell - Travel Expert, media personality, corporate spokesperson, author, worldwide wanderluster. Over 24 years of experience on all things travel. Follow Claire on Twitter or Facebook

The Best of BC Wine Country annual awards are basically the people’s choice awards of wine. Every year, tourists and locals vote on their top wineries around BC, making this a true consumer-based award, and not just more expert criticism. Each of these wineries had something special and unique to offer, so let’s take a look at the winners!

Dirty Laundry Winery – winner of the best overall experience, best patio, best place to bring out-of-towners and best Hush rosé, wow! This vineyard started out as laundry for cowboys, but after realizing that they barely changed their clothes… the owners opened a bordello. Nowadays they offer wine and craft beer with a “naughty” theme, so even if you’re not a wine lover, you’ll be sure to have a good time!

Other region winners of overall experience include Enrico Winery (Vancouver Island), Orofino Winery (Similkameen Valley), Backyard Vineyards (Fraser Valley) and Fort Berens Estate Winery (Fraser Canyon).


Mission Hill Family Estate Winery – winner of the best tour, best view, and best architecture, this vineyard really has it all! The owner took six years, with the help of a team of international architects, designers, and craftsmen, to create his landmark winery. They even have an outdoor amphitheater with seating for over 1,000 guests and a 12-storey bell tower.

Other region winners of best winery tour include Seven Stones Winery Cave Tour (Similkameen Valley), Backyard Vineyard (Fraser Valley) and Fort Berens Estate Winery (Fraser Canyon).

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – winner of the best accommodation, this winery features 10 guest rooms, complete with private fireplaces and balconies overlooking the vineyard, an outdoor pool and a fireside lounge. Combined with all the amenities of a winery, I can’t think of a better weekend getaway! Another accommodation winner is Orofino Winery (Similkameen Valley) for their Vineyard-suites.

Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery – winner of the best kept secret, this vineyard is perfect for you wine connoisseurs who have already been to many of BC’s wineries and are looking for somewhere new. Overlooking Vaseux Lake in the Okanagan, you can enjoy both Merlots and Pinots thanks to the ridge that runs through the property creating a cooler south-facing slope.


If you’re looking for another area to visit, other winners of the best kept secret were Corcelettes Estate Winery (Similkameen Valley), Backyard Vineyard (Fraser Valley), Enrico Winery (Vancouver Island) and Fort Berens Estate Winery (Fraser Canyon).

Thinking of showing off one of these amazing BC vineyards to out-of-towners, or maybe you’re an out-of-towner yourself looking for a staple BC adventure?

Consider visiting one of these most-impressive winners per region: Dirty Laundry (Okanagan), Enrico Winery (Vancouver Island), Orofino Winery (Similkameen Valley), Backyard Vineyards (Fraser Valley) and Fort Berens Estate Winery (Fraser Canyon).

I can’t wait to go back to some of the incredible vineyards I have visited on this list…and of course, try out some of the ones I haven’t yet experienced! We are so lucky here in BC to have so many award-winning wineries in our backyard, so let’s take advantage of them!

Dazzling and delicious makes BC Wine Country unique.

nikki_headshot1.jpgBy Nikki Bayley – Award-winning Travel Writer, Guide Book Author, Wine, Spirits and Cocktail Journalist, Nikki writes B.C. Living's 'B.C. Wine 101' column, and writes regularly for the B.C. Wine Institute about wine, culinary, and everything else that makes B.C. wine country unforgettable.

I’m heading to the U.K. next month and (shh!) my suitcase will be clanking with well-wrapped B.C. wine. One taste for my friends back home and I know they’ll be hooked; especially when I break out my photos of what visiting a winery is like in B.C. See, we’re spoiled here, we assume that maybe B.C. isn’t so very different in the general scheme of things: that in other parts of the world the service is great, the views are breathtaking, and the wines are wonderful too. And yes, you can absolutely find those things, but all at once? And almost everywhere? Never! Yet beautiful B.C. delivers the whole package.

It’s those extraordinary winery experiences which pull us back time and again to explore this dazzling and delicious part of the world. Which neatly lets me jump to what I’ve been asked to write about, the ‘Best Atmosphere’ category in the Best of B.C. Wine Country Awards—essentially the ‘People’s Choice’ of the B.C. wine award world. Whether it’s the great tasting room staff who take time to talk to you about the wines, and (patiently) answer all your questions without making you feel silly, or if it’s the cute puppy who gambols up to greet you with a lick and a wagging tail as you stroll the vines, it’s those small moments of personal connection that go to build the best experiences, and the people have spoken and voted in droves!

With more than two dozen winners and runners-up across this category, this should probably form the basis of your next few planned visits to B.C. wine country, but let me tip my hat to a few of the highlights which for me, truly show what happens when a winery, its wine, the people and surroundings come together to create a harmonious whole that lifts a good experience into a truly great one.

Let’s start with the Architecture category, I remember how my jaw hit the floor the first time I visited Mission Hill Family Estate Winery thanks to its elegant beautiful design, no wonder they scooped a prize here —and a first in ‘best view’ too— sharing honours with Vancouver Island’s Blue Grouse Estate Winery; and if you’ve not visited this glorious spot in the Cowichan Valley yet, what are you waiting for? Go see the soft sloping hills cradling the vines running downhill from the sleek modern tasting room where you can try their terrific fruit salad-y Ortega!


Because it’s B.C. we can skip from bucolic beauty and Tuscan elegance to the mischievous folk at the Dirty Laundry and their award-winning patio, who seduced fans with their flirty undies on the line, saloon-style tasting bar, and the Kettle Valley Railway trail chug-chug-chugging past the vines below, smoke billowing above the lake.


From the irreverence of Dirty Laundry Vineyards to the pioneering folks at Lillooet’s first winery, Fort Berens Estate Winery, who scored best Tasting Room in the Emerging Regions category. True story: I got pulled over by the police the first time I visited—I was dumbstruck by the swooping mountains and gleaming turquoise lakes and so busy gawking, I veered over the other side of the road. Fortunately, it’s a small town and there’s not much traffic, but you get my point. Gorgeous! Go see them.


Finally, to the cutest category: Winery Pet, of course I can’t recommend a favourite here; puppies and hedgehogs, goats and chickens all bring joy to the winery experience (and awards for their owners!), but I can recommend checking out the whole list: it’s a roll-call of guaranteed good times in the world of B.C. wine. 


Bring your appetite and your corkscrew!

Best of BC Wine Country honours the best in BC cuisine

joanne_photo.jpgBy Joanne SasvariJoanne is a food, drink and travel writer who contributes to Postmedia publications, Destination BC and WestJet Magazine, and is the author of the forthcoming Wickaninnish Inn and Vancouver Eats cookbooks. 

Wine country is more than just a sip of Semillon or Syrah. It is a way of life, a celebration of all the pleasures of the table, of lively conversation, generous hospitality and fine food, as well as the liquid in our glass.

And so we raise that glass to the culinary winners of the Best of BC Wine Country Awards.

Even though the Okanagan Valley has long been BC’s orchard, it was only recently that it became a foodie destination. The wine came first; the chefs followed, drawn by the extraordinary quality of the local produce. Now visitors can enjoy terrific wine country dining experiences from Vernon to Osoyoos, Vancouver Island to the Kootenays.

Many of them made the Best of BC Wine Country Awards. Nearly 2,000 consumers cast their votes over four weeks, and of those, 30 per cent voted on multiple wine regions. Clearly, wine lovers like to get out and about, and they’re hungry for delicious new experiences. Here are the winners that best satisfied their appetite.

Best Winery Restaurant: Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery

The Stewart family has been growing grapes here in West Kelowna for three generations, so by now they have a pretty good idea of what they’re doing. Just over a decade ago, their smart idea was putting Chef Roger Sleiman in charge of their restaurant. Since then he has quietly been cooking up top-notch local ingredients in an approach he calls “fresh simplicity.” As a result, the food on the plate is as spectacular as the view from the dining room; plus it pairs seamlessly with winemaker Nikki Callaway’s elegant wines.


Honourable mention: Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards; Liquidity Bistro at Liquidity Wines.

Other region winners: Unsworth Vineyards; Crowsnest Vineyard; Bacchus Bistro at Domaine de Chaberton; and The Kitchen at Fort Berens Estate Winery.


Best Restaurant Showcasing Local Foods: RauDZ Regional Table  Raudz.JPG

Sourcing local has been chef Rod Butters’ mission since long before it was fashionable. He had the first restaurant rooftop herb garden in Vancouver in the early 1990s, built a network of farmers and fishers at Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn a few years later, and in the Okanagan has discovered a whole valley full of local delights that end up in the kitchen at RauDZ. From bacon to beets to blackberries, if it grows here, he finds some delicious new way to serve it.

Honourable mention: Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery; Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards; Liquidity Bistro at Liquidity Wines.

Other region winners: Unsworth VineyardsBacchus Bistro at Domaine de ChabertonThe Kitchen at Fort Berens Estate Winery and Grist Mill and Gardens.


Best Local Food Product: Poplar Grove Cheese

Say cheese! Wine lovers adore their fromage, and they have plenty to choose from in BC wine country. Their favourite? Poplar Grove, a boutique cheesery owned by Gitta Pederson and nestled amid the vineyards on the Naramata Bench. Swing by the tasting room and sample cheesemaker Louise Pearson’s truffly, creamy Okanagan Double Cream Camembert, complexly earthy Harvest Moon Washed Rind, mild Naramata Bench Blue and the rich, intense, mouthwateringly salty Tiger Blue. cheeseplatter.jpg

Honourable mention: Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan Inc.; cheese from Upper Bench Winery & Creamery.

Other region winners: Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cranberry pepper cream cheese; Harker’s Fruit Stand organic tomatoes; Vista D’oro jams; pork loin from Spray Creek Ranch in Lillooet.

Best Overall Culinary Experience: Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery

It’s not just the food. It starts with that view, sweeping up and down the valley, over the rolling vineyards and the lake sparkling below. It continues in the tasting room, where thoughtful staff lead guests through the crisp whites, delicate Pinot Noirs and irresistible rosé. And then the experience moves on to the dining room, elegant and understated, surrounded by gardens and that breathtaking view. Here chef Sleiman prepares farm-to-table fare – think roast pork chop with Tiger Blue cheese or herb gnocchi and squash in sage butter – with the understated finesse that earned Old Vines a spot on the list of Canada’s top 100 restaurants.

Honourable mention: Vanilla Pod Restaurant at Poplar Grove WinerySonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate WineryMiradoro at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards


Other region winners: Orofino Winery dinner series in the Similkameen Valley; Enrico Winery on Vancouver Island; The Kitchen at Fort Berens Estate Winery.

Other region honorable mentions: Benja Thai in Keremeos, Similkameen Valley; The Terrace at Monte Creek Ranch Winery.


How BC's Rieslings Resonate

By Treve Ring - Treve is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveler. Her work appears in publications around the globe. A certified sommelier, WSET diploma holder, French wine scholar and instructor, and Sherry instructor, she is based on Vancouver Island, Canada, though is most often found on a plane or in a vineyard. 

While people may associate British Columbia’s generous warmth and sunshine with red wines, it’s clear that white wines, of all grapes and styles, excel here. From crisp, marine-influenced light wines, to cool-climate and nervy examples, through to sun-ripened, richer styles, British Columbia’s numerous terroirs and microclimates yield a wide diversity of whites that shine. 

The acreage of white grapes planted nearly mirrors red grapes across the province (49 percent to 51 percent respectively), with Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer leading the plantings. That said, there are dozens of other white grapes planted across the province, reflecting our adventuresome winemaking spirit, and in some cases, our colourful collective heritage. You can easily find the aromatic Germanic varieties like Riesling, Kerner,  Ehrenfelser, and Auxerrois, planted alongside Rhone varieties such as Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. Albariño and Ortega, Chenin and Chasselas, Sémillon and Sauvignette: who knew there was such a rainbow of colours, aromas, textures and flavours within the colour white?


In this year’s Best of BC Wine Country Awards, Tantalus Vineyards Riesling shone the brightest, selected from nearly 2000 voters as their favourite white wine overall, and their top from the Okanagan Valley. It’s a fitting tribute for the winery that put BC Riesling on the world-wide map a few years back, attracting critical acclaim from international and local wine writers for its potent, electric energy and effortless longevity. The striking label, with its proud First Nations mask, has become a BC symbol for quality on lists and in cellars across the country and the globe. Fittingly, Tantalus has helped shape locals’ perception of what Riesling is (versatile and vibrant), and isn’t (all sweet and confected). 

Riesling continued to streak, taking top spot for Similkameen Valley white with Orofino Winery Scout Riesling_Scout_-_Orofino.pngVineyard Riesling. This wine shows the grape via the bracing minerality, refreshing winds and the rocky soils of the Similkameen. It’s a treat to pour Orofino’s tightly wound Riesling alongside the juicy Tantalus Riesling for a contrast in styles, and terroirs.  

You could have an entire Riesling party when you invite the Emerging Regions winning white to the table:FortBerensRi111111.jpg Fort Berens Estate Riesling. Crisp and refreshing, with that ideal snap of orchard fruit, this profiles Lillooet’s grape growing potential. Reflecting B.C.’s pioneering spirit, this winery, along with others, has proven that high quality wine exists beyond the famous lakes and valleys of the Okanagan and Similkameen, and has paved the way for more exploratory producers and plantings to follow.

NoseyNeighbour.jpegSpeaking of existing beyond the Okanagan, the Fraser Valley has long been overshadowed by its other fruit growing prowess, leaving their grape wine industry in the shadows. An award for Backyard Vineyards Noisy Neighbour White, an aromatic, off-dry and ripe blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay will share some light on the area, an easy and accessible visit from the Lower Mainland. 

Two wines, but one winery, shared the top spot for Vancouver Island’s top white. Unsworth Vineyards excels with Allegro-Unsworth.jpegUnsworth_X2.jpegboth vinifera and hybrid grapes, crafting distinctively fresh and nimble wines from their warm CowichanValley vineyards, only a few kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. Allegro, a fruity and honeyed blend of hybrid grapes Petit Milo and Sauvignette, and their barrel-fermented, creamy solo Sauvignette shared the top spot, a welcome recognition for the high quality coming out of the Wine Islands, and for one of the most forward-thinking of Island wineries, the family at Unsworth Vineyards. 

Showing more of the rainbow that exists within white, honourable mentions were awarded to Riesling (Harper’s Trail), Chardonnay (Painted Rock Estate and Seven Stones), Pinot Gris (Poplar Grove), Bacchus (Chaberton Estate), and blends of Chasselas, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay (Corcelettes Estate), as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat (Lunessence). 


The People's Reds ... who are they?

By Kurtis Kolt - Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based freelance wine consultant, writer, and competition judge. Certified by London’s Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Court of Master Sommeliers, his enthusiasm and experience have resulted in many high-profile appearances, from being the subject of a Wine Enthusiast magazine profile and appearing at New York’s James Beard House, to leading wine festival seminars and beyond. Catch him at

There’s a certain element of democracy in the wine industry, in that it’s the people who hold much of the power. While wineries and regions are always free to pursue their own style, if things aren’t selling, you can bet they’ll change. When we look at broader trends in the world of wine, from the oft-swinging pendulum of oak levels, to the skyrocketing success of both the sparkling and pink wine categories, these are the results of consumer desire and demand.  

The consumer’s opinion holds a lot of sway, so any savvy industry player is wise to keep engaged with their thoughts and actions. Recently, the British Columbia Wine Institute held the Best of BC Wine Country Awards, where wine enthusiasts of all stripes voted on their favourite wines and experiences over a period of four weeks to the tune of almost 2000 votes in total.

Now that the season’s first snow has fallen on much of B.C. wine country, there seems no better time to tuck into some local reds. Let’s look at those that rose to the top in each regional category. 

Painted Rock Estate Winery Red Icon 2014 – Okanagan Valley PaintedRock.jpg

It takes guts to call your wine ‘Icon,’ but proprietor John Skinner knew his estate vineyard on the Skaha Bench would lend itself darn well to what has become a – yup – iconic British Columbian ode to Bordeaux.  Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon all show in fine form, whether for immediate consumption, or for an excellent Christmas gift that can be cellared for five or more years with ease.

Orofino Winery Scout Vineyard Syrah 2016 – Similkameen Valleyorofino_SV_syrah-2.png

The rugged, windswept Similkameen Valley is known as the organic agriculture capital of Canada due to its extremely dry conditions. It’s also home to plenty of hot, beaming sunshine throughout the summer, a high level of calcium carbonate in the soil lending well to wines with great mineral character, plus a broad diurnal temperature swing allowing natural acidity and excellent structure. All of those things come into play with John and Virginia Weber’s Scout Vineyard Syrah, which is chock-full of meaty, peppery blackberries and charm. Syrah’s quickly becoming one of the most acclaimed varieties in B.C., this example shows why. 

Backyard Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2015 – Fraser ValleyNelson-Mouellic-Photo-7400-e1497900729689-279x1024.jpg

While Backyard Vineyards is located in the Fraser Valley on the outskirts of Vancouver, the fruit here is sourced in the Okanagan Valley, where Cabernet Franc thrives. Outside of France’s Loire Valley and bits and bobs around Napa, California, seeing a single-variety wine made from the grape is a rarity. It’s quite possible we’ll see British Columbia casting a brighter light on Cabernet Franc, as our local examples burst with freshness, including ripe, delicious red fruit and a dusting of hallmark wild sagebrush seen dotted around the landscape.  

Enrico Winery Cabernet Foch 2015 – Vancouver IslandScreen_Shot_2017-11-14_at_1.41.57_PM.png

We don’t get the heat units on Vancouver Island to properly ripen classic big, red varieties like we do in the Okanagan or Similkameen. At the same time, there’s a desire to have hyper-local, juicy reds - so it’s necessary to broaden our scope. Enter Cabernet Foch, a grape variety created by Switzerland-based grape breeder Valentin Blattner, when he crossed the richness and sturdy character of Cabernet Sauvignon with the cool-climate hardiness of Marechal Foch. The result is an herbal, savoury wine ready for rich, wintery stews. 

Fort Berens Estate Winery Meritage 2014 – Emerging RegionsFortBerensM1.jpg

The ‘Emerging Region’ in question here is Lillooet, B.C., about a two-hour drive northeast of Whistler; that’s where this blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is made. A quintessential British Columbian wine, the fruit here is sourced from Lillooet, the Okanagan Valley and the Similkameen Valley – think of it as a provincial highlight reel. A dark and brooding red ready for a host of grilled meats, this ain’t a shy wine, which is probably why so many have taken notice.

A Holiday Guide



By Nikki Bayley – Award-winning Travel Writer, Guide Book Author, Wine, Spirits and Cocktail Journalist, Nikki writes B.C. Living's 'B.C. Wine 101' column, and writes regularly for the B.C. Wine Institute about wine, culinary, and everything else that makes B.C. wine country unforgettable. 

Holiday Snacks vs. BC Red Wines pic.JPG
‘Write a holiday reds story!’ said the BCWI. ‘Make it fun!” 
At first, I thought I’d write about delicious B.C. wines I love to glug by the fire whilst binge-watching Elf, Nightmare Before Christmas and all my other holiday favourites, but then I decided to tackle something a little trickier instead… that stubborn friend or relative who absolutely, positively will not drink anything but red wine, NO MATTER WHAT you give them to eat. 
The plan? Get a bunch of wines into a real-life party food situation and see whether any B.C. red could take on the challenge of pairing with holiday snacks. I took a wildly subjective poll on Facebook to find popular favourites and came up with the following:
• Bugles
• Onion dip and Rip-L chips
• Peppermint bark
• Sausage rolls
• Deviled eggs
• Sugar cookies
With the help of some elves (thanks Lindsay, Michael and Ariana, and all the wineries who supplied me with wine) we put together a festive feast, brown bagged our wines to ensure totally unbiased results, and invited over a crack panel of expert tasters. 
Now all we had to do is find wines which would match any of these foods and not make us gag...


Things we learned pretty fast ... 
• Sugar cookies go with almost nothing.
• I am addicted to Roz’s home-made onion dip (recipe below for enabling).
• The more that you drink, the less weird a pairing of red wine and peppermint bark becomes. 
• Crystal’s Bacon-Whisky dip makes almost everything better. 
• I tried to take nice photos, but in classic holiday party form, everything kinda unravelled… 

We worked hard. We tried everything, and so, for your drinking pleasure, here are:

15 BC Reds Which Totally Work with Pretty Much Anything You Throw at ‘Em!


Deep Roots Gamay 2016  

Great with deviled eggs; manages to keep velvety and even kinda works with onion dip. “You can actually drink and enjoy this,” marveled one on the panel.

Fort Berens Estate Winery Meritage 2015

Great with sausage rolls; this meaty meritage from Lillooet winery, Fort Berens also does good service with chips and dip.

Noble Ridge Pinot Noir Reserve 2015

A bit of an all-rounder, this is a solid holiday party pairing, holding its own against deviled eggs, chips, and even the fiendishly impossible-to-pair-with-anything Bugles, and sugar cookies.

Dirty Laundry Kay Syrah 2015

Yaay - one more party pleaser wine from the party-loving folk at Dirty Laundry, their Kay Syrah pairs wonderfully with sausage rolls, eggs, dip, and it’s not bad with bark either. The dip brings out a lovely blueberry note in the syrah.

Clos du Soleil Celestiale Meritage 2014

If you like snacking on Bugles and dip, this beauty from Clos du Soleil is just the job, the crunch and salt of the chips working with the acidity of the wine, making a truly great pairing.

Tantalus Pinot Noir 2015

 A surprising pairing with desserts; turns out Tantalus’s pinot is pretty great with bark, however, we all thought that it would benefit from a little more time to soften up. Note to self: try this again for Christmas 2018.

Nichol Syrah 2014

A roaring crowd pleaser, this worked wonderfully well with the eggs, and the onion dip, but went totally next level with Bugles and bacon dip, developing a gloriously black peppercorn note. SO good.

Therapy Pinot Noir 2016

Another workhorse of a wine, turns out that Therapy’s blackcurrant-y pinot goes well with sausage rolls, deviled eggs, and makes the perfect partnership with onion dip.

Moon Curser Dolcetto 2016

Bright berry and plum flavours bloomed when we paired this with onion dip and eggs. Try it with bacon and chips for a match made in heaven.

Summerhill Pyramid Baco Noir 2015 Behold! The wine that paired with absolutely everything from sugar cookies and devilled eggs to dip and sausage roll. Not many people grow Baco Noir in B.C., turns out if you want a party pleaser, it’s your grape!

Meyer Family Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

It was easy to identify the very distinctive style of winemaker Chris Carson with Meyer’s silky, juicy pinot. Easy to pick out of a line up but does it love Bugles? Yes, yes it does.

Poplar Grove Merlot 2014

A solid party companion who’ll take you through dip, sausage rolls and even wind up tasting good through sugar cookies too. Good work, guys.

TH Wines Pinot Noir 2016

Speaking of wines which love Bugles, say hello to Tyler Harlton’s pinot, which not only works well with a full compliment of snacks on your fingers, it does a killer job with bark too, totally smoothing it out with none of the ‘drinking OJ after cleaning your teeth’ vibe that most of the other wines had with peppermint chocolate.

Perseus Cabernet Franc 2014

Hopping between a classic ‘pork and cork’ pairing with sausage rolls, to a satisfying sugar cookie match too, give this full bodied lightly spiced baby from Perseus a little time to breathe before diving in.

Black Cloud Altostratus 2014

Maybe it’s the intense cherry coke nose of this yummy smooth pinot noir, but it works wonderfully with chips and onion dip. 

gift.JPGHoliday Dip Recipes to Note

Roz’s Onion Dip

One package of dry onion soup mix. (I've often used Lipton, however, for the party it was Knorr I had on hand.) Mix with 16 oz sour cream and let meld together in the fridge at least 1/2 hour before serving. I added about 1/3 cup Miracle Whip because I like its tanginess and some folks use Mayo. I also like to add a few fresh chopped chives.

Crystal’s Bacon-Whisky dip

Try the slow cooker version of this dip recipe with Forty Creek Barrel Select whisky. 

Best of BC Sparkling for the Holiday Season 

TreveRing.jpegBy Treve Ring - Treve is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveler. Her work appears in publications around the globe. A certified sommelier, WSET diploma holder, French wine scholar and instructor, and Sherry instructor, she is based on Vancouver Island, Canada, though is most often found on a plane or in a vineyard.

You definitely do not need a reason to drink fizz, though the holidays certainly gives you ample opportunity and availability to fill your glass with bubbles. We’re fortunate that sparkling wine production has skyrocketed across British Columbia in the past few years, with producers creating sparkling stars across all styles and grapes.

What makes a great sparkling wine? It’s almost too simple to be true, but it starts with a great base wine, one that achieves appropriate ripeness of fruit while holding onto brisk acidity. This provides the wine with the needed intensity and structure to transform into fizz. We’re fortunate in BC to have the conditions for just that: concentrated warmth for a ripe core, and cool conditions and a sizable diurnal shift to preserve acidity.

Rooted in cool, Canada has emerged an indie darling of sparkling wine (we do share the 49th parallel with Champagne, after all). Within Canada, sparkling wine sales outpace total wine sales at +7.1% vs +4.7%. That said, Canadian-made sparkling wines account for 3-4% share of all Canadian wine, a clear sign (to me at least) that the potential future for sparkling wine is sparkling.

BC leads the country with nearly 75 wineries producing sparkling wines, and approximately 40 of those are using the traditional method, the same painstaking method used in Champagne production.

Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir, Gewurztraminer, Ortega, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Shiraz are the most common grapes, illustrating that when it comes to bubbles, there is no limit. From fun and frizzante (lightly sparkling) through to ageworthy and serious, there are wines to suit all tastes, occasions and budgets.

In this year’s Best of BC Wine Country Awards, Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Brut sparkled the greatest, selected from nearly 2000 voters as their favourite sparkling wine overall, and their top from the Okanagan Valley. Kelowna’s family-founded and operated Summerhill has become almost as known for their sparkling wines as for their iconic pyramid on the property, with Cipes being their hallmark fizz. A BC classic, and original, this traditional method fizz is made from organic Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, and is full of fresh orchard fruit and light toast on a lively, dry palate.


Illustrating the category’s diversity, Chardonnay was the only shared factor between the Okanagan’s top bubble and the Similkameen’s. Corcelette Estate Winery’s Santé is an off-dry fizz of Viognier, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, fresh and fun, and in a crown-cap ready for your immediate enjoyment.

Backyard Vineyards Blanc de Noir Brut took the top spot for the Fraser Valley, showing that the traditional method and Pinot Noir grape work very well together here in BC. Full of light red berries and ample toasty spice, this is a great match for local salmon. It’s also great to see that the Fraser Valley is paying serious attention to serious sparkling production, and hopefully they will inspire more to the same.

From one traditional Champagne grape (Pinot Noir) to another (Chardonnay) and the Emerging Regions top bubble, Harper’s Trail Sparkling Chardonnay. Mirroring the striking freshness that Kamloops can achieve, this sparkling wine was given no dosage (additional sugar at bottling) to preserve the region’s bright fruitiness. Dry and refreshing, this carries a lot of citrus and green apple notes.


Vancouver Island certainly knows a lot about freshness – sometimes too much freshness. Averill Creek plays off the Island’s maritime-influenced acidity with ample time on the lees and in wood for complexity in their Averill Creek Vineyard 2010 Brut. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris were barrel fermented and aged on the lees in French oak for 1 year prior to secondary fermentation and 3.5 years in the bottle before disgorging and bottling.

Numerous other fizz were recognized with Honorable mentions: Noble Ridge The One, Blue Mountain Estate Winery Brut, Intrigue Wines I Do, Orofino Winery Muscat Frizzante and Enrico Winery Celebration all garnered multiple votes. It really shows the diversity and potential for all sparkling styles, grapes and regions in this province. We should all toast to that! And enjoy your holiday season.

Ringing in the New Year with BC Sparklers



By Michaela Morris - is a wine writer, educator, judge and speaker based in Vancouver. She contributes to a variety of local and international publications such as Taste, Quench, Meininger’s Wine Business International and Decanter magazines. Michaela holds the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s (WSET) Diploma, is a Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) Certified Italian Wine Expert and is now pursuing her Master of Wine studies. You can follow Michaela on Instagram and Twitter

There is a belief that whatever you are doing at midnight on December 31st will influence your activities for the coming year. So choose wisely. For me, drinking bubble is top priority as the clock strikes 12am. It sets the wine tone for all occasions and non-occasions in the year that lies ahead.

You may also be committed to supporting local in 2018. Sparkling wine gives you ample opportunity. Homegrown bubble is on the rise with examples made in diverse methods, sporting a range of our repertoire of grapes and hitting the shelves at a variety of price points.

I am particularly enamored by those crafted using the traditional method. This is where a second fermentation takes place in the very bottle you are drinking from trapping that all important, nose tickling CO2. The wine then ages for months, sometimes years, eventually developing irresistible pastry notes. It's how they do it in Champagne. Kudos to our winemakers for taking this style of wine seriously.

Remember, you don't have to wait until 11:55pm to pop the cork. Here are 4 traditional method sparklers to see you through the before, during, and after celebrations.

2014 Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, 'Fitz' Brut, British Columbia 

Gordon Fitzpatrick's exciting new project places a strong emphasis on sparkling. The 2014 Fitz is predominantly Chardonnay with a touch of Pinot Noir and aged 24 months on the lees. Dry, steely and classy with apple and pear all wrapped up in a baked pie crust. I would savour this with oysters early on New Year's Eve.

2014 Steller's Jay, Mountain Jay Brut, BC VQA Okanagan Valley

In passing from old to new, you might want to check out one of the pioneering traditional method sparklers from BC. Straightforward with white currant, citrus and orchard fruit leading to a soft finish. Steller's Jay is an affordable, recognizable and widely available sparkler that will satisfy a crowd while you are waiting for the ball to drop.

2014 Tantalus, Old Vines, Riesling Brut, BC VQA Okanagan Valley

Made from Tantalus' historical 1978 Riesling plantings, this is all focused lemon and lime with subtle gun flint notes adding intrigue to the creamy mousse. It's just as bracing as the Polar Bear swim. While you might not want to drink anything chilly immediately after, toast your prowess as soon as you warm up.

2011 Sperling Vineyards, Brut Reserve, BC VQA Okanagan Valley

New Year's Day dinner for me is an intimate affair, usually no more than a party of 2 are allowed. And fresh local Dungeness crab is always on the menu. Sperling's Brut Reserve makes for the most elegant pairing. Aged for 5 years on the lees, it is subtly toasty with red currant scone, lemon zest and a thrillingly tangy finish.1.pngFor more frothy fun, the final two obtain their effervescence through different techniques but are equally crucial to Near Year's activities.

Moscato Frizzante – Orofino Vineyards, Similkameen Valley

Exhibiting an intense bouquet of the most headily scented flowers and fresh ripe peach, this Moscato is carbonated to give its gentle fizz and left with a kiss of sweetness. Its fruit-salad-in-a-glass natures makes it highly appropriate for breakfast.

n/v Unsworth, Charme De L'Ile, Sparkling Wine

'Charme De L'Ile' is a registered name restricted to wines crafted from Vancouver Island grapes. It also refers to the Charmat method, in which bubbles are produced by a second fermentation in large tanks - BC's version of Prosecco. A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignette, Unsworth's is a lightweight charmer with reams of Granny Smith apple. The perfect counter to soaking in the hot tub après ski.2.png

BC VQA Wines Shine at Dine Out Vancouver FestivalDine_Out_Vancouver_Festival_2016_-_World_Chef_Exchange_-_Copenhagen.jpg

lucas_pavan_headshot.jpgBy Lucas Pavan, Manager of Membership and Destination Development at Tourism Vancouver and Festival Producer of Tourism Vancouver's Dine Out Vancouver Festival.

Tourism Vancouver’s 16th annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival kicks off this Friday (January 19th) taking over the city with 17 days of culinary events, prix fixe menus at 300-plus restaurants (at $20, $30 or $40 price points), as well as “Dine and Stay” packages and special hotel rates starting at $89 CAD/night.

In addition to promoting local and regional ingredients and the city’s exceptional culinary talent, Dine Out Vancouver Festival has always been about promoting BC VQA wine which are an integral element of Vancouver’s culinary story.  The Wines of British Columbia have been a supporting partner of Dine Out Vancouver Festival since 2004. Wine enthusiasts will find plenty to love at the 2018 festival.

Festival organizers are always on the hunt for delicious ways to feature BC Wines. Dine Out’s brand-new opening gala event is a collaboration with the Wines of British Columbia called The Grand Tasting (January 19th).

This ticketed event transforms the two-level atrium of the regal 90-year old Orpheum Theatre into a culinary wonderland featuring a delicious array of restaurant tasting tables, craft breweries, and over 25 British Columbia wineries.

Our team has also curated a collection of BC VQA Wine Brunches. These four brunch-time events take place at Hart House Restaurant (January 20), Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier (January 21), Forage Restaurant (January 27), and Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar (January 28). Each event is a stand-up, mingler-style event featuring fresh, inventive cuisine, paired with a selection of BC wines.  

What’s more, participating restaurants feature sommelier - suggested BC VQA wine pairings along with their prix-fix festival menus, making pairing wine with your dinner that much easier!


WATCH VIDEO! Featuring Lucas Pavan, Tourism Vancouver; Howard Soon, Chief Winemaker of Vanessa Vineyards; Tim Pawsey, celebrated Vancouver-based wine and food writer; JS Dupuis, Beverage Director at Homer St. Cafe and Bar; and Terry David Mulligan, television personality and host of Tasting Room Radio.

Some of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2018 Restaurants Offering BC VQA wine pairings include:

Salmon House on the Hill

Al Porto Ristorante

Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge

YEW seafood + bar

DIVA at the Met

Notch 8 Restaurant & Bar


C | Prime Italian Steak & Wine

Las Margaritas Restaurante Y Cantina

Cafe One


Showcase Restaurant & Bar

GLOWBAL at Telus Garden

Reflect Social Dining + Lounge

COAST Restaurant

LIFT Bar Grill View

Federico's Supper Club

Cafe Il Nido

Zen Japanese Restaurant

The Fish Shack

Arms Reach Bistro

CAVU Kitchen Bar

The Italian Kitchen

The New Oxford

The Three Brits Public House

Granville Room


The Lamplighter Public House

Library Square Public House

Pier 7 Restaurant

East is East, Chai Lounge - Main St

Cannibal Cafe

Homer Street Cafe and Bar

The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar

Ebisu on Robson

East is East, Chai Lounge - Broadway

Kaya Malay Bistro

The Village Table

The Cascade Room

Beach Bay Café and Patio



Shady Island Seafood Bar & Grill

Trattoria Italian Kitchen - Kits

Ciao Bella Restaurant

UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar

Cibo Trattoria

Baru Latino Restaurante

MARKET By Jean-Georges

BISTRO SAKANA Neo Japonesque Sushi & Tapas

Carthage Cafe

Harold's Bistro & Bar

The Reef Restaurant on Main

The Reef Restaurant on The Drive

The Lobby - The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier

Salmon n' Bannock Bistro

Tableau Bar Bistro - Loden Hotel


L'Abattoir Restaurant

Cinema Public House

Black + Blue

Fresh Restaurant & Lounge


Olive & Anchor

The Flying Pig - Olympic Village

WildTale Coastal Grill - Yaletown

Charcoal & Woodz

Fanny Bay Oyster Bar

Bistro Verde

House Special Vietnamese Restaurant

Deepwater Micro Eatery

Trattoria - Park Royal

Afghan Kitchen

Hook Seabar

Neptune Seafood Restaurant Surrey


Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant

Neptune Chinese Kitchen Coquitlam

WildTale Coastal Grill - Olympic Village



Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2018 runs from January 19 to February 4. @DineOutVanFest #dovf


CHEF MEETS BC GRAPE is the Perfect Valentine's Day Pairing: Q&A with Mijune Pak

Mijune_headshot.pngMijune Pak (Emcee and Judge) - Born and raised in Vancouver, Mijune is an international food personality and creator of Featured as one of “The World’s Most Extreme Foodies” in The Sunday Times and named “Must Follow” by The Social Media Awards, she joins Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada as resident judge. She is also a judge for the BC Product of the Year Award and The Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards. As the youngest and first social media influencer to be invited to join the BC Chef’s Association’s Board of Directors (April 2012 – June 2014), Mijune also had her own “Follow Me Foodie” column in the WE Vancouver newspaper. Mijune makes regular appearances on CTV Morning Live, and has appeared on Breakfast Television, CBC TV’s “Our Vancouver“, Zagat, OpenRoad Driver, BC Living, The Vancouver Sun, The Now Newspaper, Metro News and various other media outlets.

In the lead up to the Wines of British Columbia’s Chef Meets BC Grape multi-city event series and the largest tasting of BC VQA Wine and food in Western Canada, we interview some of the most talented wine and food personalities in Western Canada.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we speak with Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada resident judge and Vancouver blog-turned-international sensation Follow Me Foodie’s Mijune Pak on her perfect Valentine’s Day wine pairing.


 Wines of British Columbia: What is it about BC Wine Country that says romance?

Mijune Pak: A lot of locals have a soft spot for BC wine and not only because we want to support local, but because it's not necessarily the "obvious choice". We're not Spain, Italy, or France, and we don't try to be. We don't produce as much as they do and we don't have the same terroir or culture. We're doing our own thing up here and doing it very well. We're not only committed to the craftsmanship, but to the sustainability. We're unique - a charming northwest secret - and that's romantic. 

"We're unique - a charming northwest secret - and that's romantic." 

Wines of British Columbia
: What BC Wine and food/dish would be the ultimate Valentine’s Day pairing for you?

Mijune Pak: My ultimate pairing would be very specific to a recent culinary event. Chef Alex Chen at Boulevard represented BC at the Gold Medal Plates and brought home the gold. I was lucky to try his finale dish during practice runs and his seafood chowder, with caviar and bullskelp brioche paired with Sea Star Vineyard's Ortega from the Gulf Islands is a stunner. Unfortunately, we don't all have an Alex Chen in our kitchen, but we do have many BC wines that are bright, crisp and lovely with most seafood. During these colder months we tend to reach for reds, but this white is good year-round. 


Wines of British Columbia: What are you most excited about for emceeing this year’s Chef Meets BC Grape? 

Mijune Pak: It's truly a spectacular event and I'm thrilled to be asked to emcee it again. 

Sometimes you forget how many wines and wineries we have in BC and it's impressive to see so many in one room. At last years’ events, I was introduced to some really cool boutique wineries and "next generation winemakers", and everyone is just enthusiastic to showcase their product. Besides the wine, of course I can't leave out the food. There is so much talent, passion and inspiration in one room it's contagious. I also just love meeting people and hope to see a mix of new and familiar faces again this year. Please, come say hi! Since I'm emceeing, I'm hard to miss! 



For a limited-time only, take advantage of the Wines of British Columbia’s Valentine's Day special promotion, and treat your loved one to the largest tasting of BC VQA Wines in Western Canada and small plates from the top local restaurants in Vancouver, Calgary and the Okanagan Valley.

Three outstanding Chef Meets BC Grape events in Vancouver, Calgary and the Okanagan Valley offering an exceptional experience, bringing together award-winning BC wineries and top celebrity Chefs from across Canada.

  • Exquisite wine and food pairings in Vancouver and Calgary
  • Wine seminars on popular and emerging wine topics and professional Chef demonstrations in the Okanagan Valley

"It's truly a spectacular event"