BC wines are extremely hard to find outside of BC. There are two reasons for this:
1. More than 80% of BC wines are sold to BC consumers and,
2. BC wineries produce only thirteen million liters of wine a year, compared to Australian wineries that export approximately 600-700 million liters a year. In comparison, BC wines are extremely limited.
Fear not! As you read on, I will explore the different ways that you can experience the greatness of BC wines.
Visiting BC Wineries
The best way to experience BC wines is to visit a winery from April-October. Summers in BC wine country are great, especially in the Okanagan, where there are plenty of lakes, outdoor concerts, and wineries. There are many ways to visit the wine regions of BC, including multi-day trips, full day wine tours, half day wine tours, helicopter tours, bike tours, private club tours, and even downloading an app to self-conduct a wine tour. Some wine tours groups will have assigned wineries they visit and some will customize a wine tour that works for you, your group and your styles wines.
Below are some wineries to consider in different regions:
Mission Hill Family Estate – They have the best wine tour in the Okanagan.
Quail’s Gate Okanagan – The winery has a great restaurant.
Cedar Creek Estate Winery – You can go pass the winery and pick up some great goat cheese to pair with your Cedar wines. The view from this winery is great for a picnic.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery – This is a very interesting winery to see.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – This is a G=great place to stay and their wines consistently rate high amongst Canadian wines.
NK’Mip – This is a very interesting winery. It was started by a local Osoyoos Native Band. The winery is one to see because of its history, wine, restaurant, and accommodation.
Hester Creek Estate Winery – This winery has some beautiful luxury Mediterranean styled villa suites with stunning views. They are known for their Cabernet Fran wines, but also make delicious Pinot Blanc wines.
Jackson Triggs – There are two wineries, one in BC and one in Ontario. They are Canada’s most awarded winery and have been named “Best Canadian Winery.”
Blue Mountain – They have some great consistent wine and spectacular views.
Visiting the VQA Store
If you are visiting BC but cannot visit a winery, then you might be able to pick up that special bottle of BC wine from a VQA Store. VQA stores are located in Okanagan Valley, Vancouver Island, Kootenays, and throughout the Lower Mainland in Vancouver. There are a total of twenty stores and they carry up to 500 different styles of BC wine.
Ordering Wines from BC Wineries
The Canadian government recently passed a law in the summer 2012, allowing Canadian wineries to ship their wines to consumers in other provinces. Not all BC wineries are shipping wines to consumers in other provinces in Canada, but it definitely worth the chat with that winery. Most BC wineries will not ship out of the country because of wine laws, but again there are some that will. Your best bet is to contact the winery directly to see if they would be willing to ship to you.
Still struggling to find that bottle of BC Wine
I struggled trying to find stores that sell BC wine in the US, but I did manage to find quite a few in California that might have a few different options:
San Francisco: Plumpjack Wines, Mr. Liquor, The Village Cellar, William Cross, The Jug Shop, Walker and Company, The Wine Club, Noble Wines, Caruso Wines, Hats Off, Wine Impressions, and Friendly Spirits.
San Jose: Grapevine, Joseph George, Willow Glen Liquors & Wine Shop, and Wine Galleria.
Palo Alto: Oakville Grocery Co., Beltramos Wine & Spirits, Draegers Supermarket, Coach House Liquors, K & L Wines, and Draegers.
East Bay/Oakland: Paul Marcus Wines, Piedmont Grocery, Vino, North Berkley Wine Company, Paul Marcus Wines, Solano Cellars Wine Shop, Jackson's Wine & Spirits, Noble Wines, Prima Vini Wine Merchants, The Wine Sellars, Andronico's, and Oakville Grocery Co.
In Edmonton, Alberta there is a store in West Edmonton Mall called Aligra Wine and Spirit that claims to carry the largest selection of BC wine in Alberta.
In Ontario there are a few ways to get your hands on BC wine. You can search through LCBO, where you confirm the wine selection online and it will tell you what stores are carrying that wine, usually large size wineries. If you are looking for boutique smaller wineries from BC check out: Terroir Wine Agency. A final option is to take a look at Vintage Shop Online, who sell a small amount of BC Wine.
If you are looking for authentic BC wine, be careful, there are wines that are made in BC, but the grapes are sourced from other wine regions. The best way to make sure that you are getting an authentic experience is to buy a VQA wine.