When visiting their local liquor or British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance (BC VQA) wine store, consumers will soon be able to purchase bottles with Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench on the label.
“The Okanagan Valley has always been known as one of our province’s premier grape growing regions, and today, we are taking it a step further by celebrating and showcasing the talent of growers and wineries in Naramata and Skaha,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Most of our B.C. wineries are family owned and operated. They are incredible people, and I am excited to see the new opportunities and continued growth of the sector.”
There are now four sub-geographical indicators (sub-GIs), or sub-appellations, in the province. Wineries in Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench join Okanagan Falls and Golden Mile Bench, near Oliver, as wineries that meet the requirements of the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation. Wines from all four of the sub-appellations can be labelled with a commitment to consumers that at least 95 per cent of the grapes in the bottle come from that specific area.
Naramata Bench is roughly defined as the bench lands between Penticton Creek and Okanagan Mountain Park on the east side of Okanagan Lake. Skaha Bench covers a 10-kilometre stretch from the outskirts of Penticton and along the eastern shore of Skaha Lake. When wineries add area-specific labels to bottles, they help customers relate to the unique terroir in their specific area while increasing exposure to wine and agri-tourism.
From soil to shelf, more than 60 different grape varieties are produced in the province, including Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2017, B.C. wineries took home more than 2,000 medals in national and international competitions.
“We are incredibly excited for the announcement of the Skaha Bench sub-GI. With this new designation, we will be able to push forward along with our neighbouring vineyards and wineries to tell the story of our unique terroir while continuing to produce wines that reflect our specific growing conditions,” said Evelyn Campbell, proprietor, Blasted Church Winery, Skaha Bench. “With just a quick glance at the wine label, consumers will be able to identify the wines, helping to provide an all-important sense of place to connect with, and what we’re achieving on the Skaha Bench.”