BC Wine

The Wine Regions, Vineyards, Wineries and Cideries of British Columbia

Wineries

For British Columbia it all started in the early 1920's. The planning of BC's first winery took place sometime in 1921 when the Growers Wine Company laid its roots to take advantage of a surplus of Loganberries grown in Saanich on Vancouver Island. They became BC's first licensed winery in 1923, producing Loganberry wine in Victoria on Vancouver Island. In 1927 they moved to a location on Quadra Street and in addition to producing wine they also produced ciders. This was the birth of the Growers Cider, ciders that are still produced under that label to this day in Oliver. More Loganberry wineries were established in the following few years with one more in Victoria and couple in the Richmond area of the Fraser Valley.

The first wines produced from grapes grown in the Okanagan Valley were produced by Growers in 1932 under the name Beay Sejour. Due to poor taste these earlier grape wines were turned into fortified port and sherry type wines. It would take another 7 years for a table grape wine to be marketed when both Calona Wines and Growers introduced these wines in 1939.

Vineyards

There are several mentioning's of grapes being grown in BC as early as the 1880's, and for sure, some of these grapes were turned into wine. The very first mentioning of a sizeable planted vineyard comes from the sixth report of the British Columbia Department of Agriculture. Riverside Nurseries in Grand Forks had a vineyard of over 300 vines consisting chiefly of Triumph, Early Richmond, Early Crawford and Yellow St. John varieties as early as 1900. In addition to that, this report mentions of grapes doing well in the Thompson Valley and various other locations throughout BC. The first vineyards planted with wineries in mind took place in Kelowna when the first successful commercial vineyard was established by J W Hughes in the Okanagan Mission area. The Pioneer Vineyard consisting 15 acres of grapes. Looking for additional markets for his grapes he started to look into selling grapes to a winery in Victoria in the late 1920's and signed the first Grower/Winery contract in BC with the Victoria Wines in 1932, a winery that had amalgamated with the Growers Wine Company but continued to produce wines under its own name.

Ciders

Cider producers in BC are treated similar to wine producers. To be able to produce and sell cider(s) one needs to obtain a winery license. A bit odd that now a days a brew pub that produces a cider needs to be licensed similar to a winery and shows up in the listing of BC wineries. For cider licensing as with wineries, you have two choices of licensing. You can either have a commercial or a land based license. In 1987 Merridale Cider becomes the first licensed land based cidery in BC.

Wine Regions

There are five officially recognized wine regions in BC as they pertain to the wine grape growing areas:

In addition to these five there are a few regions considered as Emerging Regions. These regions are located in the Lillooet area, the Kootenays, the lower Thompson River Valley in the Thompson Nicola District and the connecting Shuswap region located above the Okanagan Valley.

The Golden Mile Bench located in the Okanagan Valley between Oliver and Osoyoos became the first officially British Columbia recognized sub-GI in 2015.