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Herbert: 2020 looks like an exciting vintage for British Columbia wines

Province experienced slightly lower yields but exceptional fruit quality

Unable to sleep, a malady I am sure few regular readers of this column suffer, I opened the 2020 grape by tonnage report from Wines B.C. Here are a few interesting factoids.

Overall, the province experienced slightly lower yields, but exceptional fruit quality, foretelling an exciting vintage.

With the numbers in Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah continue to be the largest crops with Malbec and Gamay Noir close behind among the growing list of red varietals.

There are 26 white varieties in B.C., with Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer topping the tonnage chart, followed by Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Blanc. With a total of 288 grape vineyards in the province, Oliver continues to rightfully claim the wine capitol of B.C. crown, producing 47 per cent of the grapes on the mainland.

Producers province wide agree that it is an excellent crop, with this vintage of red wines and barrel aged wines possibly being the best year ever.

Time will tell, as it takes them a little longer to find their way to consumers. Meantime the 2020 white wines are on the shelves and receiving rave reviews.

Here’s what some of the winemakers have to say about the 2020 vintage.

Kathy Malone of Hillside Winery in Naramata: “The lack of heat in the early and mid-season was quite impactful, in a good way, which was especially important for the white varieties. It allowed lovely flavour development.”

“It was a really good summer and a great year for our Pinot Gris and Chardonnay,” said Graham Pierce of Kitsch winery in East Kelowna.

Vancouver Island winemakers reported a cooler than average vintage, producing wines with the fresh Island style, natural acidity and balance.

Bailey Williamson Blue Grouse in the Cowichan Valley in part said: “I am happy with the wines, the typical fresh light style that makes Island wines so pleasing with food.”

Among the 2020 whites we have tasted are Gewurztraminers from Gray Monk Estate Winery and Sumac Ridge Estate Winery. Gray Monk as you might expect offers up a lovely off dry wine.

We were struck by its exotic aroma and fruit flavours.

Also, slightly off dry, the 2020 Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer while not as full bodied as the Gray Monk, it is tasty and an excellent value.

Both wines passed our not so scientific second day still open, still good test.

We also enjoyed Alderlea Vineyards 2020 Pinot Gris alongside Halibut w/lemon and dill, new potatoes, steamed asparagus and cauliflower.

Its tropical fruit aromas and flavours and dry finish earned it a five out of five and no possibility that it would be around for our second day still open, still good test.

Next up, some 2020 reds.

A resident of Qualicum Beach, Chris Herbert is a wine enthusiast who enjoys sharing with you everything that B.C. wines have to offer. He looks forward to hearing from you with your questions and comments at

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About the Author: Parksville Qualicum Beach News Staff

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