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Okanagan Wine Festivals Society announces 2017 Best of Varietals Wine Awards

MAY 4, 2017 - Penticton, British Columbia - The 2017 British Columbia Best of Varietal Wine Awards were announced tonight by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, marking the official launch of the 23rd Spring Okanagan Wine Festival. The competition featured 26 different varietal categories, with over 550 wines entered. Fourteen respected judges narrowed the selection down to 141 finalists with one overall clear winner being declared THE BEST in each category. New this year, wines were separated into price categories; with an Under $19 and Over $19 category for white varietals and an Under $25 and Over $25 category for red varietals where there were a minimum of 10 entries per price category within each varietal.
“The Best of Varietal Wine Awards is the first major Provincial Wine Competition of the year and really signals the start of the wine touring season in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys,” said Luke Whittall, Board Member and Judging Chair, The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. “It was an honour to have such a talented, knowledgeable, and diverse group of judges participate in this year’s competition. We are very fortunate to have this high level of talent selecting the stand-out wines for this year’s Best of Varietal, especially with the spectacular run of vintages, the competition to be the best could not have been any tougher.”

The British Columbia Best of Varietal Wine Awards are 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. 
“Judging for the Best of Varietal Awards was a great experience,” said Shanyn Ward, Sommelier, Cask and Barrel. “With training like WSET it is great to be able to sit down and taste the wines blind, so you can have an unbiased tasting to see what grapes really represent the Okanagan. Competitions like these really allow us to share the knowledge about what wines our region represent really well.”
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 as well as the National Wine Awards of Canada. This year’s judging featured the following judges:
  • Shanyn Ward – Cask and Barrel, Kelowna
  • Juliana Hayes – Vine Living, Kelowna
  • Audrey Surrao – RauDZ Regional Table, Kelowna
  • Dennis Dwernychuk – BC Signature Liquor Store, Kelowna
  • Mark Filatow – Waterfront Wines, Kelowna
  • Matt Wentzell – Experience Wine Tours, Kelowna
  • Jeannette Montgomery – Okanagan Writing, Penticton
  • Kayla Sahara – British Columbia Wine Information Center
  • Martin Lewis- Bad Tattoo Brewing, Penticton
  • Shelley Boettcher – CBC Radio, Calgary
  • Grant de Montreuil – The Savoy, Nelson
  • John Schreiner – Wine Historian & Writer, Vancouver
  • Troy Townsin – Wine Blogger & CBC Radio, Victoria
  • Samantha Rahn – Araxis, Whistler
And here are the award winners for the 2017 British Columbia Best of Varietal Wine Awards:
British Columbia Best of Varietal Wine Awards - Wine of the Year
Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery – Mystic River Gewürztraminer, 2016
Best Cabernet Franc
Bench 1775 Winery – Cabernet Franc 2013
Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Nk’Mip Cellars Winery – Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Best Chardonnay $19 and Over
50th Parallel Estate – Chardonnay 2015
Best Chardonnay Under $19 
Nk’Mip Cellars Winery – Chardonnay 2015
Best Dessert Style Wine
Northern Lights Estate Winery – Seduction 2016
Best Gewürztraminer
Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery – Mystic River Gewürztraminer 2016
Best Icewine
Volcanic Hills Estate Winery – Riesling Icewine 2014
Best Merlot
Cassini Cellars – Nobilus 2013
Best Pinot Blanc
Kraze Legz Vineyard & Winery – Skaha Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2016
Best Pinot Gris $19 and Over
Hillside Winery – Unoaked Pinot Gris 2016
Best Pinot Gris Under $19 
Arrowleaf Cellars – Pinot Gris 2016
Best Pinot Noir $25 and Over
Privato Vineyard and Winery – Grandé Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Best Pinot Noir Under $25 
Arrowleaf Cellars – Pinot Noir 2015
Best Red Blend Other - $25 and Over
Cassini Cellars – Quattro Collector’s Series 2012
Best Red Blend Other - Under $25 
Monte Creek Ranch Winery – Hands Up Red 2015
Best Meritage Blend $25 and Over
Sandhill Vineyards Estate Wines – Small Lots Two 2014
Best Meritage Blend Under $25 
Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery – Red Horizon 2014
Best Riesling $19 and Over
Kitsch Wines – Riesling 2015
Best Riesling Under $19 
Arrowleaf Cellars – Riesling 2016
Best Rosé $19 and Over
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards – Oldfield Reserve Rosé 2016
Best Rosé Under $19 
Arrowleaf Cellars – Rosé 2016
Best Sauvignon Blanc
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery – Dry Rock Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Best Single Red Varietal Other - $25 and over
Blasted Church Vineyards – Holy Moly 2014
Best Single Red Varietal Other - Under $25 
Thornhaven Estates Winery – Pinot Meunier 2014
Best Single White Varietal Other - $19 and Over
Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery – Morio & Friends Muscat 2016
Best Single White Varietal Other - Under $19 
Inniskillin Okanagan – Chenin Blanc 2016
Best Sparkling
Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery – The One 2012
Best Syrah 
Black Hills Estate Winery – Syrah 2014
Best Syrah Based Blend
CedarCreek Estate Winery – Senator’s Red 2013
Best Viognier
Red Rooster Winery – Rare Bird Series Viognier 2016
Best White Blend $19 and Over
Inniskillin Okanagan – Viognier/Gewürztraminer Discovery Series 2016
Best White Blend Under $19 
Thornhaven Estates Winery – Brooklyn’s Blend 2016
The full list of finalists is available here.


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About The 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 four seasonally inspired Okanagan Wine Festivals annually in Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Its Winter Okanagan Wine Festival is run in partnership with Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops. It is also responsible for Signature Wine Events including Cropped by Valley First, the WestJet Wine Tastings and others. It also produces and runs the British Columbia Best of Varietal Wine Competition and the Province’s most prestigious and oldest wine competition – the British Columbia Wine Awards. For more information visit www.thewinefestivals.com

For media inquiries, please contact:

Katia Plotnikoff, Public Relations & Marketing, Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

[email protected] / 250-861-6654 ext 6.



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