BCLGWA Judging Process Overview

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History ● The Judges ● 2020 Judges ● The Judging Process ● Definitions of Awards ● Why Enter? ● Frequently Asked Questions ● Contact


The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards recognizes excellence in winemaking for all licensed British Columbia wineries.  Produced by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, it is the oldest wine judging competition in the Province. The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards are generously sponsored by Valley First, TricorBraun Winepak, Westland Insurance, and ContainerWorld.  These awards offer the BC wine industry the opportunity to have their wines judged by 15 highly-respected judges from across Canada and abroad. In 2019, over 740 wines from across BC were judged.  This year the BCLG Judging Competition will take place September 23rd – 25th, 2020 at the Manteo Waterfront Hotel in Kelowna.


The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards judges are a diverse group of wine experts from many different professional areas—wine makers, wine educators, wine writers, sommeliers, wine retailers, and more—who all have two things in common: a passion for wine, and daily exposure to it.  They are chosen for their immersion in the world of wine, with regular tastings of many wines as an integral part of their professional life.  Judges come from different aspects of wine’s professional life because they bring different perspectives to the table.  For example, a winemaker might evaluate a wine on the basis of technical aspects, a restaurateur on how well it would pair with food, and a wine educator on how typical it is of its varietal type.


Please click here for the 2020 Judges bios and photos.

  • Gurvinder Bhatia, Quench, Global TV, Media
  • Rhys Pender, Master of Wine, Educator/Media
  • Brad Royale, Brad Royale Consulting, Consultant
  • Emily Walker, Wine Director Naramata Inn, Tap & Barrel Buyer
  • Michaela Morris, Freelance Wine Writer, Educator 
  • DJ Kearney, Educator, Freelance Consultant
  • Sid Cross, Wine and Food Expert, Freelance Writer, Sommelier of the Year
  • Sebastien Le Goff, Cactus Club Restaurant Group, Buyer
  • Jason Yamasaki, JOEY Restaurant Group, Group Sommelier
  • Iain Philip, Educator, Consultant
  • Matt Landry, Stable House Bistro, Sommelier of the Year
  • Véronique Rivest, Media/Trade, Sommelier of the Year (Canada, The Americas)
  • Kurtis Kolt, Georgia Straight, Media/Trade
  • Mark Filatow, Waterfront Wines, Trade


The entire competition is “blind” and comprises three phases: the initial blind tasting; the medaling round; and the final round where the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year is decided. 

Throughout the first two days of highly controlled blind tastings, judges taste every wine entry to decide if it is medal-worthy. Judges do not receive any information on the producer, ensuring each wine is judged fairly, equally, and without bias. For the initial round, the judges are split into 5 panels (3 judges per panel).  Odd numbers are used because it’s easier to get a decision by a simple majority. 

On the third day, judges evaluate each wine on an individual basis—not compared to other entries in a flight. During this stage, judges determine which entries are worthy of a Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. Entries that receive a Platinum medal from all judges on the panel will move forward to the Wine of the Year Award.

In the medaling round, each wine is judged on its own merits including color, clarity, aroma, bouquet, taste, aftertaste, and overall quality—rather than as part of a ranking.  In other words, 10 wines will not be ranked 1 to 10, but rather recommended for specific medals.  In a particular flight, there might be 1 Platinum, 1 Gold, 3 Silver, and 2 Bronze medals, for example, and 3 receiving no award; but there are no predetermined numbers or percentages of medals.  Sparkling wines and white wines are tasted first, followed by Rosé and red, and finally dessert wines.  When there are different levels of sweetness, with Riesling for example, the wines are tasted from dry to sweet, because tasting the sweeter wines first would make the dry wines taste bitter.  Palate cleansers include lots of water (still or sparkling) and unsalted crackers.

At the end of the third day, Platinum wines advance to the final round. Here, all competition judges deliberate together to determine the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year.


Wine of the Year:  An exceptional wine with fine personality that stands our among its peers

Platinum:  An excellent wine with great personality and is a classic example of its style and variety

Gold:  An accomplished wine with considerable personality, character and complexity

Silver:  A perfectly well-made wine that provides an enjoyable drinking experience

Bronze:  A commercially-sound wine that is modestly attractive and free from significant flaws


  • The competition is open to all licensed British Columbia wineries and recognizes a wide variety of wine styles.

  • The judging process conforms to high standards which ensure competitive integrity, well-established wine judges, a fully double-blind judging process and proper time allotted for discussion and consensus.

  • All wineries that enter receive two complimentary entries.

  • The winners will be announced on October 15th, 2020 on the OWFS website via video ceremony featuring the Honourable Janet Austin.

  • Following the awards ceremony, results are immediately posted on http://www.thewinefestivals.com and distributed electronically through various media channels to our extensive consumer, trade and media database.

  • Results will be published digitally across key wine platforms including wine and food media and select newspapers.

  • Each winning wine is awarded a locally-designed trophy or medal that can be displayed at their winery.

  • BCLG Wine Awards digital emblems will be made available electronically immediately to all winners who are OWFS members for their own online promotion. Non-members will receive their digital emblems within 7 days after the award video is released.

  • A downloadable Guide to the Winners will be available at the OWFS website directly after the results are announced.


When can I register? 

Registrations are now open until Thursday September 17th 2020, 11:59PM. To register your wines please visit our registration page.

Who can enter wines into the BCLGWA?

All wineries licenesed in BC can enter wines into the BCLGWA. Wines must be produced using 100% BC grown fruit. 

How and where are my wines received?

Wines will be received at the Commercial Logistics location in Kelowna between September 14th – 18th. Wines can be either dropped off directly or couriered to the location. If alternate arrangements need to be made, you can do so by emailing [email protected] directly.

Why do you require multiple bottles?

We want to ensure that if a wine is faulty, we can serve a fresh sample to our judges to avoid any of wines being unfairly judged. If your wine is put forward for an award we will use one of the additional bottles in these judging sessions. In addition, we often promote winning wines and spirits at a range of both trade and consumer events throughout the year.

Do you only accept grape wines?

No. We accept grape wines, fruit wines, and meads.

How do you ensure confidentiality?

The wines are stored in a windowless room separate from the judges, that may only be entered by the staff and the team of back-room sommeliers. The wines are poured into numbered glasses so that the judges never see a bottle. Additionally, the judges, staff and back-room sommelier team must all sign a Confidentiality Agreement prior to the judging.

How many wines are judged?

It varies year to year; however, in 2019 there were over 700 wine entries into the BCLG Judging competition.

How many categories are there?

In 2020 there will be 24 categories. If a category has enough entries it may be split into price ranges for additional awards.

How and when will the winners be announced?

This year we will be posting an exciting Video Awards Ceremony in lieu of our typical in-person reception. This video will be made available at the OWFS website on Thursday October 15th, 2020 at 7PM. All OWFS member winners will have access to their digital emblems immediately after the video and may download these from their membership portal. All non-member winners will be emailed their digital emblems within 7 business days. All physical medals and trophies will be shipped within 7 business days. 

If you have any questions please contact Elan Morris, General Manager, at [email protected] or 250 718 5276.


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BC Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards

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

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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