Skip to content

More than Italy – The Vancouver International Wine Festival

Not surprisingly

While this year’s 38th Vancouver International Wine Festival showcases the wines of Italy – with tickets now on sale for all public events taking place from Feb. 20-28 - its not all about the wines of Italy by any means. Check online at for details!

Not too surprisingly the region with the next largest representation is British Columbia with 26 wineries and principals in attendance, pouring the fruits of their vinous labours.  And California’s not too far behind with 22 wineries in attendance.

Often overlooked among the many reserve, deluxe and luxury offerings from Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Mission Hill Five Vineyards wines are named for their vineyeards in West Kelowna, East Kelowna, the Naramata Bench, Southeast Oliver and Osoyoos.  Still on sale in select locations a trio of Five Vineyards whites include Pinot Blanc (300301), Chardonnay (518530) and Sauvignon Blanc (118893) all priced at $9.95!

The first winery in Kamloops - Harper’s Trail Estate Winery was named for the cattle drive trail of pioneer rancher Thaddeus Harper.  Harper’s Trail ‘Thadd Springs Vineyard’ Field Blend White 2013 (326280) $15.05 blends Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay into a fruit filled sizzler, very bright and tantalizingly tasty.

Oodles of crisp apple and pear aromas and flavours slide into cantaloupe and ripe honeydew melon. An interesting afterwisp of candied lime rind lingers in the last sipé

Jack Fraser and family purchased Thornhaven Winery in 2005 from cousin Dennis Fraser. Thornhaven sits on Little Giant’s Head Mountain, with a spectacular view of both Okanagan Lake and the magnificent surrounding mountains, an area many people have likened to Tuscany.

Thornhaven Pinot Noir 2011 (732768) $19.10 is a light Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir aged in French oak barrels. Spicy peppery tannins underly flavours and aromas of ripe cherry and dried strawberry. Elegant and ‘lean’, this is a great bridge in any dinner as you move from lighter whites to more full-bodied reds.

If you’re attending the 38th Vancouver International Wine Festival in a few weeks – and you’re also putting aside your prejudices and paying attention to the quality of the wines you’re sampling? – you may be surprised by just how well our own local BC produced wines compare with the international competition.

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan Valley since 1995, in 2007 Sant and Gurbachan Gill started planting grape vines.  In 2009, they decided to open a winery and chose their prime vineyard on the slopes of a hill along the Golden Mile, between Oliver and Osoyoos. They called it Gold Hill because of its location along this famous stretch–and because they wanted to produce the very best wine possible.

Gold Hill Viognier (570952) $20.05 is a full-throttled version of this honeysuckle and raisin flavoured wine, high in alcohol. Peaches and apricots ooze from the glass, slowly sliding into honeyed melon and apple pie as the wine warms in the glass.

Petite Milo is one of several hybrids created by Switzerland’s Vladimir Blattner, it is cold hardy, disease resistant and early ripening.

The variety is not an over producer but consistent and will ripen its grapes in very short seasons less than 150 frost free days. Nestled in the foothills of Mill Bay, surrounded by pasture and minutes away from the Pacific Ocean, Unsworth Vineyards’ Cowichan Valley setting provides the perfect coastal climate for growing some of the world’s finest and most unique wine grapes.

Unsworth Petit Milo (610253) $24.10 intrigues any honest wine lover with ripe pink grapefruit aromas and flavours highlighted by white peach and lime. True – it doesn’t quite taste like any wine you know but the mid-palate delivers of hard lemon candy, lime and very obvious notes of guava.

Organic winemaking practices have been an integral part of Summerhill Pyramid Winery since the Kelowna vineyard was purchased by the Cipes family in 1986. Producing wine organically has a meaningful benefit to the environment, and Ezra Cipes maintains that eating organic foods greatly benefits our health.

A blend of 87 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 13 per cent Cabernet Franc aged 27 months in French and American oak barrels, Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cabernets 2010 (849885) $28.05 offers classic Cabernet aromas of cassis, plum and black cherry with undertones of dark chocolate, cedar, and a twist of peppery spiciness.

See you at the Vancouver International Wine Festival?

Reach WineWise by emailing


Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up

Pop-up banner image