Nature blessed the wineries along Oliver’s Golden Mile Bench with ideal grape-growing terroir, and earlier this week, the provincial government officially recognized the area’s unique characteristics to notify the global market.
Now, the 11 wineries which comprise the Golden Mile Bench can label their bottles to reflect the sub-appellation region they were grown in.
“For 20 years I have dreamed of this day. A day when the land we have always known to be special can be officially recognized on our label,” said Tinhorn Creek president and CEO Sandra Oldfield. “I am so proud of all the work that was done by wineries and the government to get sub appellation status for the Golden Mile Bench.”
This new sub-geographical indicator, or sub-appellation is a first in B.C.
“The designation of the Golden Mile Bench sub-appellation is a reflection of the maturation and progress of B.C.’s premium wine industry,” said B.C. Wine Institute president and CEO Miles Prodan.
There are five designated wine regions in B.C. including Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands. They produce more than 80 different grape varieties. The B.C. VQA is an appellation of origin system that guarantees authenticity and quality standards for B.C. wines. It also is a commitment to the consumer that at least 95 per cent of the grapes in the bottle come from that specified area.
B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, and Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen, made a visit earlier this week to one of the Golden Mile Benches producers, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, where the new labelling apparatus was announced.
“The visitor from not only B.C., but from around the world, will see the Golden Mile in marketing materials — so they can seek it out in an area of interest,” said Minister Letnick.
“It gives wine drinkers an idea of where they might go for a unique wine experience.”
While the Okanagan Valley is world-famous for its wine production, Letnick said that sub-appellation labelling is the next step marketing in B.C.’s wine industry.
“It’s not enough to just to say that we’re a really diverse region from Osoyoos up to Vernon.”
And it’s not just Golden Mile Bench’s wine that impresses Letnick.
“There are many stunning views in B.C., but this definitely ranks as one of the nicest in the province.”
Located southwest of Oliver, the Golden Mile Bench wineries, are characterized by their location on an east-facing bench, with gradually inclined mountains to the west — offering prime growing conditions for grapes. In order to meet the province’s Wines of Marked Quality regulation, comprehensive audits were required to prove that a minimum of 95 per cent of grapes were grown in that area.
“It has everything to do with the rock, soil, winds, sun, and it has a lot to do with elevation,” said Bruce Fuller, proprietor of Rustico Winery — a member of the Golden Mile wineries.
Larson said the designation will help spread the word about Golden Mile Bench wine, adding it is “ready to be shared with the world.”
“As people become more educated about wine and the regions that it’s growth on, we’re making it more recognizable for people looking for a quality wine,” Larson said. “We’re telling consumers, this is a wine you can count of for being top quality.”
In 2013, B.C. grape growers generated farm cash receipts of almost $45 million. In that same year, B.C. wine exports were valued at $7.8 million nearly quadrupling since 2008.