Lyndie Hill and Mike Hill from the 2016 Brewski event at Apex Mountain Resort. This year there will be more than 25 craft breweries

Lyndie Hill and Mike Hill from the 2016 Brewski event at Apex Mountain Resort. This year there will be more than 25 craft breweries

Okanagan Taste: Drink more Canadian wine this year

Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News.

By now hopefully you’re well-aware that 2017 marks Canada’s 150th birthday.

Celebrations are being planned, Canada is at the top of international travel lists — we are having a year-long party, after all — and inevitably there will be discussion of the Canadian identity.

I would hesitate to call Canada a wine country. We are too vast, and the industry young by global standards. But our wine regions, coupled with beer producers, distillers, chefs, and our culinary culture, are set to take centre stage this year. International accolades continue to accumulate for Okanagan wineries, and our region gains more publicity each year.

The Canadian wine industry’s economic impact is almost $7 billion, and for every bottle of wine produced in our country, $31 of domestic economic impact is generated. It’s going to be a great year to support your local winery. Here are a few suggestions:

• Join a wine club. Most wineries have a club that sends a few cases a year, and might include hard-to-find wines, special events, and more. Try find one in another province that will ship to B.C., and get to know wines from Ontario or Nova Scotia. Or have a few bottles shipped to a friend somewhere else in Canada so they can learn about B.C.

• Visit another Canadian wine region. Nearby? The Kamloops and Shuswap regions are creating cool climate wines. Take an extra day the next time you’re heading to Vancouver to explore the wineries of the Fraser Valley. Visiting Vancouver Island? Pop into a couple of Island wineries. Look for these wines at your favourite wine shop and give them a taste.

• Choose Canadian wines, or spirits or craft beer, for your cellar and your dinner parties. Heck, have a Canadian Rosé party on July 1, the perfect way to incorporate red and white. Create a Canadian sangria or cocktail. Try pairing Canadian wine with whatever dish says “Canada” to you. Perusing a restaurant wine list? Encourage your favourite spot to add Canadian bottles to it.

Happy 150th Canada, it’s going to be a great year.

Save the date:

Jan. 13 to 23, SunPeaks Resort:  #SunPeaksWineFest, the winter edition of the Okanagan Wine Festivals features numerous wine and food tastings, seminars, and more. http://www.thewinefestivals.com/events/festival_extended/4

Jan. 17, Okanagan College, Kelowna: Join the launch party for this year’s Dine Around Thompson Okanagan, a reception with food, wine and beer stations for sampling. A taste of Dine Around which runs Jan. 18 to Feb. 5, featuring 50 restaurants with menus from $15 to $45. http://www.okwineanddine.ca/

Jan. 24, Kelowna Yacht Club:  Women of Wine lunch presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, with three women leaders in  wine — Ann Sperling, Elaine Triggs, and Sandra Oldfield. Moderated by John Schreiner. http://www.kelownachamber.org/events/Women-of-Wine-Luncheon-Panel-1932/details

Feb. 18, Apex Mountain Resort:  the fourth annual Brewski Craft Beer, Cider, and Spirits Festival takes place, featuring appies from the Gunbarrel Saloon, followed by a live band. Tickets:  https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/brewski-2017-tickets-29996515385?aff=es2

Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. She can be reached at Allison@AllSheWrote.ca and on Twitter @OkanaganTaste.