British Columbia’s wine region is organized into five official Designated Viticultural Areas. These five wine regions (Geographical Indications) in turn contain their own sub-regions. The designated areas (GI) range from the shores of Vancouver Island to Prince George and stretch downward near the U.S. border at Osoyoos. That’s a lot of terroir to cover!
Within these regions of such geographical diversity (varying temperatures and soils) exist over 929 vineyards with 10,260 acres under vine; more than 80 grape varieties are grown. The most planted white grape is Pinot Gris, which can be found in nearly all the designated GIs. Depending on the vineyard’s location, the profile of the wine can vary from a crisp, bright, leaner style to a more fruit forward, lusher style.
Our young wine industry has attracted winemakers from all over the world bringing with them years of tradition. For example, in 1968, Italian immigrant Joe Busnardo brought with him the first cuttings of Trebbiano. His plantings of this grape over 40 years ago on the Golden Mile Bench resulted in the Hester Creek Old Vine Trebbiano.
Albeit young, the wine industry in British Columbia flows with tradition on all levels of viticulture and viniculture. However, it is not burdened by tradition, as the pioneer spirit is alive and well. We are fortunate to have an industry that is evolving, pushing the envelope, in fact, and trying to understand what British Columbia’s terroir is truly capable of producing. And his month’s sampling of wines is a great example of BC’s success in growing Italian varieties.
Father Charles Pandosy, born in Marseilles in 1824, planted the first vines at the Oblate Mission in Kelowna in 1859.
Dolcetto is Italian for “ little sweet one.” The wines from this grape are fruit forward but usually drier in style.
Arneis means “little rascal” in reference to its fickle nature in the vineyard. Due to its difficult character the grape neared extinction, but has seen resurgence in the past decade in vineyards all over the world.