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2015 Best of Varietal Wine Awards Opens for Entries

Annual Spring Contest Celebrates Over Two Decades of BC Wine Excellence

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – February 24, 2015: The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is delighted to announce the 21st annual Best of Varietal Wine Awards. The contest is held in conjunction with the annual Spring Okanagan “Bud Break” Wine Festival, which is the official welcome to spring in the Valley. The 10-day tasting extravaganza showcases over 70 culinary and wine events, with a record 121 member wineries participating in this year’s festival on April 30-May 10, 2015.  The awards competition marks the start of the festival and recognizes the top British Columbia varietal wines across 32 different categories. The final awards entry deadline for wineries to participate is April 10, 2015.

Originally founded in 1994 as the “Winemaker’s Awards” with three red and three white wine categories, the competition has evolved significantly since that time with last year’s competition seeing almost 400 entries in 25 different wine categories.  The judges narrow down the entries to a select number of finalists with only one overall clear winner being declared the best in each category.  The contest is open to all British Columbia wineries that use 100% fruit grown in the province.  A unique aspect of the judging is that it is conducted primarily by sommeliers and restaurateurs from across western Canada.  The Best of Varietal Wine Awards is managed under the professional eye of Marjorie King who has over 20 years of wine competition experience with the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.

“This competition involves a lot of well seasoned industry judges who are literally on the front line and engaged with the consumer. Not to mention actually buying the wines,” said Tim Pawsey, wine writer, hiredbelly.com.  “It also affords us an excellent chance to single out the top wines in each stylistic area from some of the best vintages on record in the Okanagan.”

This year’s judging is on April 23, at the Penticton Ramada and features the following acclaimed wine experts:

  1. Allison Markin – Blogger & Wine Writer, Penticton Herald, Penticton
  2. Brad Royale - Sommelier & Wine Director, Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, Calgary
  3. Colin Spiekermann - Food & Beverage Manager, Hotel Eldorado, Kelowna
  4. Dennis Dwernychuk – Senior Product Consultant, BC Liquor Stores, Kelowna
  5. Erika Steffanson - ISG certified sommelier, Instructor Food and Wine Pairing, Okanagan College, Penticton
  6. Erin Korpisto - WSET 3 certified, Instructor, Wine Studies, Okanagan College, Penticton
  7. Grant de Montreuil - Executive Chef, Bonfire Grill at The Cove, West Kelowna
  8. Jeannette Montgomery – Wine Writer, Okanagan Writing, Penticton
  9. Jim Martin - Owner, Metro Liquor, Kelowna
  10. Julianna Hayes - Wine Writer, Okanagan Sunday, Kelowna
  11. Luigi Coccaro - Co-Owner & Sommelier, La Bussola and The Curious Artistry & Alchemy, Kelowna
  12. Mark Filatow - Executive Chef and Owner, Waterfront Wines, Kelowna
  13. Simon Gillett - Sommelier, Watermark Beach Resort, Osoyoos
  14. Steve Stinson - Owner, Black Bear Bar and Grill, Mission Tap House, Old Train Station Pub, Kelowna
  15. Tim Pawsey - Wine Writer, HiredBelly.com, Vancouver

"Whenever our winery wins a Best of Varietal award we see it directly help impact the sales of that product," said Bruce Hibbard, Sales for Hester Creek Estate Winery and Board President, Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.  "The timing of the awards is also opportune, just prior to the start of the summer season, allowing the wineries to capitalize on their marketing and ensuring they get the most value for their submissions."

The honours will be handed out at the Best of Varietal Awards Reception and Tasting on April 30, 2015, from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Penticton Ramada, where wineries celebrate the spirit of the grape and share in the camaraderie of healthy competition.  Guests may mix and mingle with winery owners and winemakers and will be the first wine consumers to taste the award winning wines. Tickets are $50 and are available at www.thewinefestivals.com or by calling 250-717-5304.   


Suggested tweet: Best of Varietal Wine Awards 2015 @OkWineFests 21st Spring #Okanagan #BCWine Festival now accepting entries til Apr10 http://ow.ly/JBK3E

About Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is responsible for the development of the wine tourism sector in the interior of British Columbia. It is well known for producing two annual Okanagan Wine Festivals in spring to celebrate the bud break and in fall to celebrate the grape harvest. Its Winter Okanagan Wine Festival is run in partnership with Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops. It is also responsible for Signature Wine Events and two annual wine judging competitions including the British Columbia Wine Awards. www.thewinefestivals.com

For media inquiries, please contact:

Lori Pike-Raffan, Public Relations Director, Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

[email protected] / 604.808.6655


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Meet our Members

The Okanagan Wine Festival Society is made up of a number of Okanagan wineries and tourism related businesses. Every member is recognized as an outstanding service or product supplier in their related industry.

BC Best of Varietal Awards

Every year the Best of Varietal Wine Awards recognizes the best wines in B.C., using a panel of esteemed judges. This year we were privileged to have a diverse group of wine experts from across the country join us and participate in the competition.

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