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Help - Vancouver BC trip

I will be in Vancouver, BC in two weeks and I am wondering if any of the wineries in the area are worth a visit. What I have read seems to point to good but not great. I will have only one day so no over night stays please. TIA

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  1. Many years ago, Blue Mountain made very good Pinots. I haven't been in that part of the world in a while and the wines are near impossible to get outside BC, so I cannot say if they are still very good... but they once were.

    1 Reply
    1. re: whiner

      I wouldn't go out of my way to get to any of the wineries near Vancouver. All of BC's top wineries are in the Okanagan Valley, about a 4-5 hour drive from Vancouver.

      Instead, go to a nice restaurant and try out some of BC's best wines. Top wineries include Black Hills (look for their Meritage, called Nota Bene), Tantalus (for their outstanding riesling), Cedar Creek (esp. their Estate Select and Premium Select lines), Burrowing Owl, Golden Mile, Jackson-Triggs (their more expensive wines), and Quail's Gate. There are many others, but the above are some of my faves.

    2. Why not the Granville Island microbrewery instead of a

      1. Thanks so much for the replies, I was getting the feeling that they might not be 'worth' the time. I might just have to hit a wine store and buy some Okanagan wine to take home. I am not a beer drinker but the other half is, thanks for the recommendation for the microbrewery.

        1. I'll be there in October for the wine festival. There's lots going on in the Okanogan area.


          4 Replies
          1. re: dcrockett

            Note: the OP states he will be in Vancouver for one day only; I think the 8 hour round trip drive to the Okanagan would be out of the question.

            1. re: anewton

              I really wish I could go to Okanagan, the wines sound very interesting but the schedule doesn't allow for it this trip(1st time to Vancouver and I am so looking forward to it :O). It will definetly be on my list of things to do next time though. Wine store will have to suffice. Thanks again for your posts!!

              1. re: minnesota foodie

                If you are looking to buy BC wine while in Vancouver, try looking up VQA on google. VQA stands for Vintner's Quality Assurance and is a set of regulations governing how VQA-approved wines must be made (i.e. in BC, VQA wines must be made from BC-grown grown grapes; imported grapes and/or juice are not permitted for wines with this designation).

                There are a number of retail stores in Vancouver specializing in VQA wines. Some sell VQA wines exclusively. These are the best places to find quality BC wines. An informed merchant can point you in the right direction to taste the best BC has to offer.

                1. re: minnesota foodie

                  The Okanagan wineries are well worth the trip . . . but ot on this trip! You simply don't have enough time.

            2. I would agree with other posters... Vancouver is one of the great North American cities. Even though there may be several quality wineries in driving range, spend your day IN Vancouver!

              1. I don't know if you've left. I tried the best British Columbia wines availalbe at Salt A Tasting Room and only found one I liked, Joie. I get the feeling anybody up there making decent wine has limited quanities and it would be hard to get in for a tasting as it sells out quickly.
                * 2005 Kettle Valley Merlot - Canada, British Columbia, Okanagan Valley (9/8/2008)
                Not good. Disjointed. Some tobacco flavors and some leather and fruit. Not varietally correct. I don't know if aging will smooth out the rough edges but I doubt it.
                * 2005 Pentage Winery Cabernet Franc - Canada, British Columbia, Okanagan Valley, Okanagan Valley VQA (9/8/2008)
                Not bad. I wouldn't buy this wine for my cellar but I'd buy it if I saw it on a restaurant menu. I was expecting cabernet franc from British Columbia to be like Chinon and taste green to me, but actually it was a pretty ripe wine. If anything, it was a bit flabby. Mostly cherries on the palate. Some oak but not too much. A decent finish. Made to be drunk young. Tasted at Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver.
                * 2006 Sandhill Syrah - Canada, British Columbia, Okanagan Valley (9/8/2008)
                Fantastic Old World nose of bacon fat and blueberries. The palate didn't live up to the nose. Not much of any flavor. Not out ot balance, Just bland. I din't know if it will evolve. Tasted at Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver.
                * 2007 Joie A Noble Blend - Canada, British Columbia, Okanagan Valley (9/8/2008)
                Yum. A blend of grapes. Sweet but balanced by good acidity. The word noble I suspect comes from noble rot. Some nice complexity of flavors, including what I assume is lychee from gewortztraminer. Also some graham cracker. Nice finish. My favorite of the five Canadian wines I tried at Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver.
                * 2007 Joie Rosé - Canada, British Columbia, Okanagan Valley (9/8/2008)
                Simple and too sweet. Just a big plop of sweetness in the mid palate and no finish. Some red fruit flavors but no depth. Not interesting. Tasted at Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver.

                5 Replies
                1. re: SteveTimko

                  Hi Steve:

                  I know I'm biased because I live in BC, but I do not concur with the statement: "anybody up there making decent wine has limited quanities and it would be hard to get..."

                  None of the wines you tasted would come anywhere close to my "Best of BC." The only wine I'm surprised about was the Sandhill Syrah. Not that I am overly impressed with Sandhill wines, but their small lots series has been pretty good...

                  I've said it before and I'll say it again: my favourite BC wines/wineries are:

                  Golden Mile: for their sumptious "Black Arts" series; not so fond of their regular bottlings.

                  Black Hills Estate: all of their wines are blends, and they are all very good.

                  Jackson-Triggs: their low-end bottlings are plonk, but their Grand Reserve and
                  Sunrock Vineyard wines tend to be excellent. Reds much better than whites.

                  Cedar Creek: their more expensive reds, such as the estate select and premium select series, tend to be good to excellent. Their wines tend to need time in the cellar. Some pretty good whites, too (i.e. their Gewurztraminer is generally excellent).

                  Quail's Gate: excellent Pinot Noir, especially their reserve bottlings.

                  Mission Hill: wines not consistent across the board, but their Oculus (Bordeaux-style blend) is one of BC's best red blends.

                  Tantalus: make one of the best rieslings in the Pacific Northwest.

                  Herder: very good red and white wines, especially their "Josephine" Bordeaux-style blend.

                  Burrowing Owl: so-so Merlot, but their Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are both consistently superb. I need to try their Cab Franc and Syrah.

                  Blue Mountain: several on this board have mentioned that their favourite BC wine is this winery's Pinot Noir. I last tasted the 2005 and found it quite tart (i.e. green), but I'll have to try some more of their wines.

                  Lang Vineyards: make good, inexpensive whites (rieslings, pinot gris, ehrenfelser, etc...)

                  Tinhorn Creek: Their Oldfield Merlot is one of BC's better examples of this varietal. They also make a good, inexpensive Cabernet Franc.

                  There are many other good wineries in BC. Even those wineries that don't make good wines across the board often have certain varietals they do well (i.e. Grey Monk makes a very good pinot gris, the "Odyssey"; Inniskillin makes a very likable chenin blanc and a promising Malbec, etc...)

                  I agree that BC wines are hit and miss, but the quality has improved steadily during the past 10 years and continues to improve. Like Washington State, the summer climate tends to be very consistently warm and dry, moreso than one might think (I believe the average summer daytime highs in the Osoyoos-Oliver corridor are around 85 degrees F/30 degrees C.) Heck, a few wineries are even making drinkable Zinfandel grown in BC!

                  1. re: anewton

                    Steve: The "noble" in Noble Blend refers to the proprietor, Heidi Noble. No botrytis / noble rot on that wine. And I agree it is excellent.

                    anewton: good list, almost worthy of its own thread. I'd have to say that Black Hills; Nota Bene and Mission Hill's Oculus are a bit over-rated. Amazing that Nota Bene sells out 3,000 cases in an hour, while there is still Josephine on the shelf !

                    Have you tried Tantalus Pinot Noir?

                    1. re: newJJD

                      No, have not yet tried Tantalus Pinot Noir. Is it good?

                      And I must make a correction to my list: Black Hills is not making only blends anymore. They have a chardonnay and apparently are making some other single varietal bottlings, I just found out.

                      As to whether Nota Bene is overrated, I think it is a "wait and see" situation. Most of these wines will not hit their stride until 5 years post-release. They may continue to improve for 10. We'll see.

                      1. re: anewton

                        Tantalus Pinot Noir is damn good. Black Hills Chard is also damn good - ripe fruit on the front palate, well integrated toasty oak on the finish, but not overly buttery.

                        Re: Nota Bene - I was more referring to the cult that has developed around it, and how it sells so fast compared to other wines of its quality and price

                        1. re: newJJD

                          Yes, in many ways it has become BC's first "cult wine." I really like it though, and to the winery's credit, prices have not risen all that drastically over the years.