The Count Down Begins – Where the action is

The countdown is on to the 6th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, BC. This is where the BC industry in the Okanagan valley can really show the world what they can do.

If you have been following the BC Wine 101 podcasts featuring many of the wine regions in the Okanagan Valley, then you will notice that there may be a few regions missing. I am very much hoping to get Naramata involved in the coming weeks and that will likely be the very last podcast in that series. The idea was to get this series completed before the Wine Bloggers Conference and then leave it at that for now.

For people who have been following the wine industry in BC over the last decade or two, you will notice that some of the more historic wineries and locations are not included in this series. Venerable estates like Summerhill, Cedar Creek, and St. Hubertus, or the “Fab 5 Wineries” east of Kelowna are not included. Neither are the northern wineries like Gray Monk, Arrowleaf, or Larch Hills. There are a few reasons for this and I’d like to address them for the record because I’ve never wanted to deliberately exclude any winery on this podcast/blog and it’s important to me.

Firstly, the Wine Bloggers Conference is coming to Penticton and the wine regions in BC Wine 101 are the ones that are closer to Penticton than anything else. There is a pre-conference excursion that will visit Tantalus and other wineries in that area, but the bulk of the action is going to be focused on these southern Okanagan wine regions. Having been to 2 conferences previously, there is only so far that we can go for an excursion and the organizers have set those limits for a reason.

Secondly, regional representation wasn’t there. The fact is that when I wanted to chat with someone about the wineries of the Similkameen, Okanagan Falls, or any of the featured regions, there were organizations in place to receive those requests. There were people who had been hired or contracted to act on behalf of the wineries in those regions. Did that make a difference to the organizers of the conference? I don’t know, you’d have to ask them. I know that I found it generally quite easy to get interviews and chat about the wine regions.

And thirdly, (and most shocking in a way, especially for people like me who have followed the industry closely for years) the wine industry is no longer centred about Kelowna. The real action is in the south. A quick glance at the Lt. Governor’s Award winners from its decade-long existence will show that the most northern winning winery in 2012 was Thornhaven in Summerland. Maybe it’s just the recent vintages, but earlier awards always had strong showings from Sandhill, Cedar Creek, and other grand estates in the Kelowna area. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come? Who knows?

When I started this series, I was hoping that I would be able to get all of the wineries in the Okanagan represented on record for that they do best. It just wasn’t possible within the small scope (and no budget) of my podcast and that really got me thinking about how this industry has changed. I still want to talk about the wineries on Camp Creek road and the glorious rieslings near Kelowna. I want to chat biodynamics, Leed certification, and Pinot Noir until the cows come home. The story of BC wine really begins with a lot of these properties and I really believe that the story of BC Wine 101 begins here.

But the question of representation remains and not just for media oeno-nerds like me. When the subject of sub-appellations really starts to build (and it will), who will be there to represent the regions that may have some of the most unique terroir out there? My guess is that it will be in the south.