Top quality B.C. white wines can be affordable

Much of British Columbia’s 944,735 square kilometres is wilderness. Roughly 75 per cent of the province is mountainous, 60 per cent is forested, and only around five per cent is arable.

Although the bulk of our 302 wineries are in the Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands – with 21 in the Kootenays, Lillooet, Shuswap and the Thompson Valley – the entire productive vineyard area in British Columbia is just over 10,300 acres.

Our best homegrown wines are being grown on a total area of 41.7 square kilometres – just over 0.0044 per cent of the province! That’s one reason that our highest quality, local homegrown wines are often more expensive than comparable imported wines.

Nevertheless, great local whites can be found for under $20 and exceptional locally-grown white wines can cost less that $30.

Near legendary in the local scene, white wines from the Okanagan Valley’s Burrowing Owl Estate Winery routinely sell for $25 – $35 – if you can find them. However, whites from their associated Calliope Wines line can often be found for less than $16.

Offering great value Calliope Sauvignon Blanc $15.49 is a ripe, fully fruited white. Peach and mango aromas and flavours slide into lemon, lime and gooseberry with none of the fresh cut grass characteristics that we expect from similar wines from New Zealand.

When they’re not making uniquely crafted whiskys, rums, gins and liqueurs – as well as artisan vermouth – the folks at Vancouver Island’s de Vine Wines & Spirits on Old West Saanich Road, north of Victoria make equally unique wines.

De Vine’s estate plantings of this Austrian specialty white wine grape in 2008 gave them a three year advantage over Culmina’s Okanagan Valley vines. Devine Grü-V $17.99 opens up with green apple and lemon rind notes before veering into pear and then peach. The Grüner Veltliner signature sprinkling of white pepper is clear from first sniff through to the finish.

Tucked up on rolling hills on Allendale Rd, south-east of Okanagan Falls, with views of Vaseaux Lake, Liquidity Wines makes a full range of award winners. The vineyard has four hectares of mature vines, notably Pinot Noir, that Rolland and Heidi Heller planted in 1992.

A quintessential Okanagan example, Liquidity Pinot Gris $18.99 melds aromas and flavours of apple, pear, peach and apricot over underlying tropical notes of mango, guava, passion fruit and pineapple. The rich fruit medley finished with a wisp of chalky minerality.

Originally planted and opened by Bill Montgomery in 2011, Vancouver Island’s 40 Knots Estate Winery was revitalized when Layne Robert Craig & Brenda Hetman-Craig bought the winery and moved to Comox from Fort St.John in 2014.

A cross between the German varieties Muller Thurgau and Siegerrebe, early-ripening aromaic Ortega is a favourite of many Island wineries. Peppery gooseberry aromas open up 40 Knots Ortega $21.99 with that distinct green table grape-iness reminiscent of Muscat not far behind. Lemon and floral grapefruit aromas and flavours fill the mid palate.

Re-named for its address at 1775 Naramata Road, north of Penticton on the east side of Okanagan Lake, Bench 1775 crafts wines from from three vineyard locations: Oxbow Vineyard, on the original Golden Mile in Osoyoos, South Okanagan, and at Paradise Ranch Vineyard and Soaring Eagle Vineyard in the Central Okanagan.

Extraordinarily rich, Bench 1775 Meritage White $29.99 is a blend of 55 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 45 per cent Semillon – the classic white Bordeaux. Partially aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels, this luscious white has a rich, creamy texture and bright tropical fruit notes over underlying, lemon, apple and pear. Stunning and seriously ageworthy!

Bench 1775 will be showcasing their wide range of wines at the 41st Vancouver International Wine Festival, February 23 – March 3, 2019. Advance tickets to the International Festival Tasting went on sale November 1. Check for more details.

Find many more options for affordable top-end B.C. whites in this article at

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