Victoria approves Golden Mile Bench as first official sub-appellation for B.C. wine

Designation comes on heels of new task force created to improve the province's appellation system

Visitors regularly enjoy wine at a wine room at the Road 13 winery on the Golden Mile Bench | Road 13

Golden Mile Bench is the first official sub-appellation for B.C. wine thanks to the B.C. government, on March 30, approving the designation.

The move comes a few days after the industry created the B.C. Wine Appellation Task Group, which will develop the process for how to create future sub-regions and eventually other appellations.

Winery owners in the Golden Mile Bench strip of the southern Okanagan spent years doing substantial research to make their case that their area has a distinctive terroir. The B.C. Wine Authority then recommended that the B.C. government approve the new sub-appellation.

Having the Golden Mile Bench sub-appellation approved means that the eleven wineries in the area, including operations such as Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Road 13 Vineyards and Hester Creek Estate Winery Ltd., will be able to put the words “Golden Mile Bench” on the front of their wine bottles to indicate origin.

New regulations and inspections will be carried out to ensure that 95% of the grapes used to create wines identified as being from the Golden Mile Bench were grown in what is now about 790 acres of vineyard in the area.

“The designation of the Golden Mile Bench sub-appellation is a reflection of the maturation and progress of BC's premium wine industry,” said Miles Prodan, who is president of the B.C. Wine Institute.

There are five designated wine regions, or appellations, in B.C.:

•Okanagan Valley;

•Similkameen Valley;

•Fraser Valley;

•Vancouver Island; and

•Gulf Islands.

The B.C. Wine Appellation Task Group is expected to meet March 31 for the first time and the executive director of the task group, Mike Klassen, told Business in Vancouver that he expects that the first order of business is to create a framework for how to create future sub-appellations.

“This is a very comprehensive industry consultation,” he said. “Yes, we’ve got a dozen people sitting at the table talking about this but part of the work will be going out and speaking to the over 270 licensed wine producers in B.C. and asking their input in what we should be doing.”

The task force will include James Mack, who is the assistant deputy minister for agriculture, science and policy with B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Winery principals in the group include:

•Ezra Cipes, Summerhill Pyramid Winery;

•Christine Coletta, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery;

•Bill Eggert, Fairview Cellars;

•Andy Johnston, Averill Creek Vineyards;

•Derek Kontkanen, Inniskillin Okanagan;

•Ian MacDonald, Liquidity Wines;

•Christie Mavety, Blue Mountain Winery;

•Harry McWatters, Time Estate Winery;

•JAK Meyer, Meyer Family Vineyards;

•Rhys Pender, Little Farm Winery; and

•Don Triggs, Culmina Family Estate Winery.