A guide to B.C.’s wineries

December 18, 2017

by Megan Jones

There’s no doubt about it: British Columbia’s wine industry is booming. More than 300 wineries span nearly 10,000 acres across the province – an incredible figure considering B.C. operated only 17 wineries in 1990. Today, local wineries receive hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and produce more than 75 grape varieties combined, many of which have won international awards, putting B.C. on the map for wine connoisseurs around the world. Discover beautiful chardonnays, bold merlots and tangy pinot gris in your own backyard with this definitive guide to B.C. wine country. [Photo credit: iStock/laughingmango]

A guide to B.C.’s wineries

Vancouver Island

Nearly 40 wineries operate on B.C.’s largest island. Most produce pinot gris, auxerrois, and ortega – varieties that are particularly suited to the wet, coastal environment – as well as merlot, syrah and pinot noir, amongst other varieties. The lush Cowichan Valley, about one hour north of Victoria, is an ideal region to visit for the day. Several wineries are within cycling distance of each other, making it a popular spot for bike tours. Among them, Silverside Farm & Winery offers rare fruit wines and ports, as well as fresh berries in the summertime. Rocky Creek Winery produces sustainable, 100 per cent local wines that have received nearly 100 awards. Their pretty patio provides food pairings during summer months – or one can picnic amongst the grapes.

Gulf Islands

This famously idyllic archipelago in the Georgia Strait has produced wine since the first family-owned winery opened on Saturna Island in 1995. Today, the region boasts a healthy 13 wineries. Many specialize in just one or two varieties, and all are delightfully quaint. Quadra Island’s SouthEnd Farm Winery offers merlot tastings on a quaint farm overrun with wildflowers. Hornby Island Estate Winery produces award-winning sparkling wines made from local fruit like apples, pears and raspberries. Salt Spring Island’s Garry Oaks Estate Winery grows grapes the “natural way,” without the use of pesticides or fertilizer. As a result, wines carry a distinct mineral flavor – delicious when paired with fresh seafood and herbs.

Fraser Valley

Approximately one hour from downtown Vancouver, the Fraser Valley is perfect for a day trip or afternoon of wine tasting. Thirty-six wineries populate this lush, fertile landscape, which is ideal for growing a wide variety of grapes. Backyard Vineyards offers tours of its gorgeous vineyard and samples of many different wines in its posh tasting room. Vista D’oro Farms & Winery overlooks Campbell Valley Park and Golden Ears Mountain Range (hello outstanding views!) and their quaint store sells fruit, baked goods and other delectable products. Chaberton Estate Winery is straight out of southern France, offering more than 20 wines per tasting and award-winning meals at its chic Bacchus Bistro.

Okanagan Valley

With plenty of room to grow, dry weather conditions and excellent soil, the Okanagan is the province’s premier grape-growing region. It accounts for over 120 wineries, more than 80 per cent of B.C.’s total vineyard acreage and stretches for more than 250 kilometres in total. Wineries here range from small, family-run producers to large, internationally celebrated operations. Of the former, LaStella Winery on Osoyoos Lake produces merlot, chardonnay, pinot grigio and rosé on an intimate vineyard. Nearby in the small community of Oliver, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is a much larger operation, complete with a tasting room, restaurant and patio, gift shop and live events. For more exploring, head to the BC VQA Wine Information Centre in Penticton, where visitors can receive tasting tips from the experts and pick up maps to plan their adventure.

From the Fraser Valley and the Gulf Islands to the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, B.C. is home to hundreds of wineries just waiting to be explored. With this guide as your companion, get ready to plan a weekend getaway or day trip to a local wine region this season – just don’t forget to bring a bottle home for your cat sitter!

Can't travel to visit a winery? There are plenty of hot spots right in the city where you can some of B.C.’s best vino.
West End
Commercial Drive

Outside the city?
North Van
West Van

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