It’s that time of year again when I get distracted by stats relating to the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC Wine. You can find my “analysis” of the winners from 2014 and 2015. This year’s winners are a very interesting collection of wineries. Here is the complete list:
Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery 2013 Living Desert Red
Ex Nihilo Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir
Gold Hill Winery 2013 Meritage Family Reserve
Hester Creek Estate Winery 2013 Syrah Viognier
Intersection Estate Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc
Kismet Estate Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
Lunessence Winery & Vineyard 2014 Riesling Icewine
Okanagan Crush Pad Winery 2014 Haywire The Bub
Quails’ Gate 2014 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay
Red Rooster Winery 2012 Reserve Merlot
Ruby Blues Winery 2015 Commune Viognier
St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery 2014 Riesling
It’s an interesting set of wines. The first thing I noticed right away was that this is the Okanagan Valley’s award again. There are no other regions outside of the Okanagan represented in this year’s winners. That is tempered by the fact that many of the wineries are new, small wineries and first time winners. Kismet, Bordertown, Lunessence, and Intersection are first-time winners. Along with Gold Hill, Ex Nihilo, Ruby Blues, and Okanagan Crush Pad, who have all won an LG previously, the solid majority of the winners are from small production wineries.
In terms of the varieties, Kismet’s Cabernet Sauvignon is only the 3rd ever single-variety Cabernet Sauvignon to win, and the first since Painted Rock’s 2007 Cab that won in 2010. The first was way back in 2004 for Inniskillin (for the 2002 vintage!). Syrah continues to add numbers with Hester Creek’s Syrah Viognier blend. Except for Cabernet Sauvignon, all of the other winners come from the main varieties that account for 81% of all previous winners. Nobody snuck one in their with an Ehrenfelser, Pinotage, or anything more obscure. That makes it a little more interesting sometimes. Either this year’s awards is a little more conservative in terms of varieties or else the wine industry is starting to focus a little more on its strengths. Perhaps it’s a little of both.
Some wineries are on a streak while others that have been well established for a long time have won remarkably few awards. Ruby Blues continues to win for their Viognier. This is their 4th award for that variety in the past 5 years. Every vintage from 2011 has won it with the exception of the 12. Hester Creek picks up their 4th award in 5 years for an innovative new Syrah Viognier blend. Red Rooster continues to show us that best of the Okanagan’s diversity. They have won 7 awards in total over the years for 6 different varieties and are starting to creep up on the wineries that have won the most awards in total. By the way, those are:
Sumac Ridge – 10
Wild Goose and Jackson-Triggs – Tied at 9 each
Red Rooster and Inniskillin – Tied at 7 each
Sandhill – 6
The lead is really up for grabs at this point. Wild Goose continues to be in the company of the major wineries owned by Constellation and Andrew Peller Ltd. and will be likely be battling it out with Peller for top spots shortly. Jackston-Triggs and Sumac Ridge have slowed their winning ways recently and have only won a single award each since 2008 even though both used to win multiple awards each year. Inniskillin has won two since 2006 and was the last of the Constellation properties to win an LG in 2013. Conversely, the Peller properties have shown a real steady course for wins and diversity among the winning varieties and styles. Noticeably absent from any LG award is any of the Mission Hill properties, who perhaps do not enter this competition. Having all three major wine companies involved in this award over time would have been extremely interesting.
Congratulations to all of the winners for this year’s LG awards! Enjoying selling out your wines earlier than you had planned!
Cheers from wine country.