Discover British Columbia Wine Country
A Guide to Drinking, Eating & Doing BC Wine Country
It’s a misconception that Canada sits too far north to produce wine. In fact, the country has two prime wine regions – British Columbia on the western end of the country and 2,000 miles east in Ontario. Both are considered two the newest wine regions in the New World.
British Columbia is one of the most interesting, fastest-growing, emerging wine-growing markets in the world right now. Changes to climate, weather patterns, and the jet-stream, have opened up new agricultural possibilities for the BC wine region to produce delicious wines. Just a handful of wineries operated a few decades ago but now, British Columbia is home to hundreds of wineries and nearly a thousand vineyards growing dozens of grape varietals.
We’ve paired a variety of pieces of information to help you explore and discover of the British Columbia wine country – all to help you plan your next sipping adventure. We hope you enjoy and if there’s other questions you have on BC wine country, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. Cheers!
The British Columbia wine country is pushing the boundaries of what was once possible. Nestled between the 49th and 50th parallel north, which is the northern limit for wine production. Few other emerging wine regions along this parallel are thriving the way British Columbia is. Some super star 50th parallel regions are the Mosel & Rhine River Valley, Germany, Champagne, France, and the Kent sparkling wine region in England. Each of these regions are known for their cool climate and sparkling wines. While British Columbia certainly produces these luscious styles, winemakers here are able to vinify fruit-forward reds, whites, and rosés show-stoppers with ease.
Much of this is due to its location alongside the Pacific Coast on the western end of Canada. Given the warm air current coming from the Pacific, the region can be quite warm.
British Columbia is home to lush, emerald-hued, rolling hills that break into the raucous Pacific Ocean to the west and the rugged Rocky Mountains to the east. Alaska and the Yukon Territories border the north with Washington, Idaho and Montana comprising the southern border.
The Canadian province is home to incredibly diverse climates and geographical terrain with snowy mountain caps to sandy beaches and just about everything in between.
The Columbia River runs through parts of the BC wine country into the famed Columbia Valley wine country in Washington and Oregon.
There are four wine districts in the BC wine country that are home to nearly 400 wineries. The wine districts include Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, Similkameen Valley, Shuswap, Kootenay, Lillooet, Thompson Valley, Gulf Islands and the Okanagan Valley.
The Okanagan Valley is probably the most well-known BC wine district as 84 percent of British Columbia’s wine production comes from this 150-mile stretch of land.
The following maps notes the wineries in these regions. Don’t forget to save this map to your Google maps when you’re visiting BC wine country to help you with your own routes.
Similar to American Viticutural Areas in the United States, in British Columbia there are Geographical Indications (GI) / Geographical Indications Viticultural Areas. GI’s are designated wine-grape growing regions with specific geographical, climate attributes, and grape varietal production.
These geographical boundaries define the wine and everything that goes into it. Everything including what grapes can be grown and how the wine is grown and is produced.
When you’re looking at wines from Canada, make sure to check for a VQA on the label, and BC VQA on wines from British Columbia. These designations means the wine producer has met the specific set standards the Vintners Quality Alliance, Canada’s wine quality control organization. (Wines with BC VQA have met those requirements for British Columbia.)
British Columbia grows 80+ different types of grape varietals. This list depicts the most popular and most abundantly produced based on the amount of vineyard acreage that is planted.
TOP 10 RED VARIETIES
TOP 10 WHITE VARIETIES
With countless wineries in British Columbia to sip in, narrowing down which ones to visit can be a challenge. If you’re looking for BC wineries with amazing tours take a peek at these. We’ve also noted a few with stellar tasting rooms that will enhance any BC wine country visit.
The British Columbia wine country has a lot to sip in, including some amazing places to stay while sipping through the Canadian Province.
No matter your style, perfect accommodations can be found all over British Columbia. Whether you like adventure camping, a private KOA Kampgrounds cabin, AirBnB, a Midtown Business hotel, or Five-Star Luxury, you can find it in BC wine country. See Carpe Travel’s recommendations on where to stay in BC wine country.
The following articles are a collection of all of our adventures and travel tips for visiting the British Columbia wine country. Stay tuned as we continue to explore and sip our way through the BC wine region.
- Wines of British Columbia is a non-profit devoted to marketing and educating the public about British Columbia and its wines. It is housed in the British Columbia Wine Institute. It is a great source for statistics and up-to-date information pertaining to the Wines of British Columbia.
- Destination BC is the official tourism organization in British Columbia.