British Columbia is home to 9 distinct wine regions (GI’s or geographical indications) and 12 sub-regions (Sub-GI’s), with more than 80 grape varieties all being grown at the highest latitudes in the world where this is possible. To compare our latitude with other regions, BC aligns with Champagne or Oregon, but with a warmer climate.
British Columbia has some of the most extreme and unique grape growing conditions on the globe. After replacing two-thirds of the vines in the 1900’s, BC now has about 30 years of wine production experience, making it a relatively young wine industry.
Today, BC VQA wine impressively contributes nearly 5 billion of dollars to the BC economy with just over 2 million cases being produced annually.
BC’s unique climate has it well suited to growing grapes. With warm daytime temperatures followed by cool evening allows some of the finest growing conditions. Warmth in the day to encourages photosynthesis and sugar production. Sun encourages the grapes to develop colour and tannins and the cool nights are needed to retain that refreshing acidity everyone loves so much in BC wine.
Pinot Gris is the most produced white wine in BC, followed by Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. For reds, Merlot is at the top of the list, followed by Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is a grape variety that can bud early in lower temperatures. Merlot’s vines can begin to budburst at just below 10 o/c while Cabernet Sauvignon buds late in warmer temperatures. These unique characteristics of the vines make them well suited to growing in BC.
Spring frosts, hot summers with little moisture and fires all wreak havoc on a growing season (or vintage). Mother nature always keeping the wine farmers on their toes. What comes out in what seems a simple process is really more like magic when you factor in all the right circumstances that must come together to produce joy in bottled form.