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APRIL 28, 2016 - Penticton, British Columbia - The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is pleased to announce the results of the 2016 British Columbia Best of Varietal Wine Awards tonight, marking the official launch of the 22nd Spring Okanagan Wine Festival. The competition featured 24 different varietal categories, with a record total of 567 wines entered. Within each of the categories, the judges narrowed the selection down to 122 finalists with one overall clear winner being declared THE BEST in each category. New this year, a Best in Show wine was chosen by the 15 judges.

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 this year’s awards witnessing over a 200% increase in entries over the past decade. The contest is open to all licensed British Columbia wineries that use 100% fruit grown in the province. An exceptional aspect of the judging is that judges are chosen from the trade including renowned sommeliers, restaurateurs and recognized wine media from across western Canada and features a unique judging process that allows each panel of judges to evaluate all of the wines in any given category enabling a direct comparison for selecting the best wines.

“There is so much to be learned about the relationship between varietal, vinification and terroir when you blind taste all the same region’s varietals against each other. To taste 60 of them side by side, with the ability to re-taste if necessary is a very special exercise. We really got to see who was pushing the envelope of winemaking in BC and tasted the full gambit of what was available stylistically,” said Alistair Veen, Sommelier, Chef, and Co-Owner, Tap Restaurant, and 2016 BC Sommelier of the Year.  “It’s always an honour to taste the best of the best in BC, it inspires us to continue sharing these delightful wines with our patrons and guests.”

“We feel that entering in the Best of Varietal Wine Awards allows us to showcase the quality of our wines on a province wide scale. It provides us on going motivation to always keep learning and producing award winning wines,” said Sharon Fiume, co-proprietor, Ciao Bella Winery.

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 and other recognized wine competitions in Canada. This year’s judging was held on April 7, 2016 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Center and featured the following acclaimed wine experts:

  1. James Addington – Food & Beverage Manager, Delta Grand Resort, Kelowna
  2. Shelley Boettcher – freelance writer & editor, Calgary
  3. Dennis Dwernychuk – Senior Product Consultant, BC Liquor Stores, Kelowna
  4. Mark Filatow - Executive Chef and Owner, Waterfront Wines, Kelowna
  5. Simon Gillett - Sommelier, Watermark Beach Resort, Osoyoos
  6. Geoff Last – General Manager, Bin 905, Calgary
  7. Martin Lewis – Co-owner, Bad Tattoo Brewing, Penticton
  8. Jim Martin – Senior Product Consultant, Metro Liquor Group, Kelowna
  9. Samantha Rahn – Sommelier, Araxi, Whistler
  10. Audrey Surrao – Co-owner, Raudz Regional Table, Kelowna
  11. Mark Taylor – owner & Sommelier, Siena Restaurant, Vancouver
  12. Troy Townsin – author & CBC Radio wine columnist, Victoria
  13. Matt Wentzell – Sommelier, Kelowna
  14. Alistair Veen - Sommelier, Chef, and Co-Owner, Tap Restaurant
  15. Gloria Wheeler – Food & Beverage Manager, Hotel Eldorado, Kelowna


The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is pleased to announce the 2016 winners of the British Columbia Best of Varietal Wine Awards:


Wine of the Year

St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery – St. Hubertus Vineyard Riesling 2013

Best Cabernet Franc

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards – Cabernet Franc 2013

Best Cabernet Sauvignon

Black Sage Vineyard – Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Best Chardonnay

CedarCreek Estate Winery – Estate Chardonnay 2014

Best Dessert Style Wine

Golden Age Meadery – Hearth and Fire Mead

Best Gewürztraminer

Wild Goose Vineyards – Mystic River Gewürztraminer 2015

Best Icewine

Inniskillin Okanagan – Dark Horse Vineyard Riesling Icewine 2012

Best Merlot

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards – Oldfield Series Merlot 2012

Best North American Hybrid

Monte Creek Ranch Winery – Frontenac Gris 2015

Best Pinot Blanc

Evolve Cellars – Pinot Blanc 2014

Best Pinot Gris

Arrowleaf Cellars – Pinot Gris 2015

Best Pinot Noir

Ciao Bella Winery – Pinot Nero 2014

Best Red Meritage Blend Cabernet Dominated

Cassini Cellars – MAXIUMUX Collector’s Series 2012

Best Red Meritage Blend Merlot Dominated

Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery – Obra Prima 2010

Best Red Blend

Bordertown Vineyard & Estate Winery – Living Desert Red 2013

Best Single Red Variety “Other”

Sandhill Vineyards Esate Wines – Small Lots Barbera Sandhill Estate Vineyard 2013

Best Single White Variety “Other”

Township 7 Vineyards & Winery – Muscat 2015

Best Riesling

St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery – St. Hubertus Vineyard Riesling 2013

Best Rosé

Perseus Winery – Pinot Noir Rosé 2015

Best Sauvignon Blanc

Therapy Vineyards – Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Best Sparkling

Gray Monk Estate Winery – Odyssey Rosé Brut 2012

Best Syrah / Shiraz

Bench 1775 – Syrah 2013

Best Syrah Based Blend

CedarCreek Estate Winery – Senator’s Red 2013

Best Viognier

Black Hills Estate Winery – Viognier 2014

Best White Blend

Arrowleaf Cellars – Snow Tropics 2015


The full list of finalists is available here:


Co-sponsored by:




Suggested Tweet: Best of Varietal #Wine Awards 2016 winners announced @OkWineFests http://ow.ly/4ncjYM 22nd Spring #Okanagan #BCWine Fest kicks off! 


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 Best of Varietal Wine Awards and the British Columbia Wine Awards. Its popular website that drives wine tourism is www.thewinefestivals.com.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Lori Pike-Raffan, Public Relations, 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.

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British Columbia Wine Awards

British Columbia's oldest and most prestigious wine judging competition that recognizes excellence in winemaking for all British Columbia wineries.

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