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Canada’s Okanagan Valley gains six new sub-appellations

Six new sub-appellations have been approved in the Okanagan Valley, Canada’s largest wine-growing region, the Canadian government confirmed. 

Okanagan Lake in Canada’s British Columbia

The six locations were approved as new appellations, or sub-geographical indications (sub-GI) as they are known in Canada, at the end of June according to the Canadian government website.

They are:

  • East Kelowna Slopes, comprising just over 200ha of vineyards overlooking Mission Creek in the central area of the Okanagan Valley, which is known for its premium sparkling wines.
  • Lake Country, on the west-facing slopes above the Lake known for Pinot Noir and white varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer.
  • South Kelowna Slopes, comprising 130ha of vineyards on the slopes on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake.
  • Summerland Bench, on the western shores of the lake, where Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer predominate.
  • Summerland Lakefront, a small 7.5m stretch of land hugging the western shore of Lake Okanagan.
  • Summerland Valleys, which includes some of the highest-elevation vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, around 35ha of predominately Chardonnay.

The designation is an official and protected term under British Columbian law, which can be included on the bottle.

There are currently nine geographical indications across British Columbia, including Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, Kootenays, Lillooet, Okanagan Valley, Shuswap, Similkameen Valley, Thompson Valley and Vancouver Island.

The Okanagan Valley has 11 additional sub-geographical indications, with defined boundaries based on the subtle differences in growing conditions and terroir, while Cowichan Valley is the only sub-GI of Vancouver Island.

Golden Mile Bench on the Western slope of Okanagan Lake was the first sub-appellation and sub-GI to be declared in the Okanagan in 2015, followed by Okanagan Falls in August 2018. This was followed by Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench in May 2019 and Golden Mile Slopes in January 2022, having been submitted to the British Columbia Wine Authority in September 2020.

An application for Black Sage Bench, which widely been expected to become a new sub-GI for a number of years, was submitted in early June, according to the Society of Wine Educator’s website.

Lana Popham, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Food said it was great to have more recognition for the region’s wines, winemakers and grape growers, many who have been part of the valley for generations.

“B.C. wines tell the story of the people who make it and the unique places it comes from,” she said. “By putting a spotlight on six new growing regions and their distinct wines, we are continuing to help B.C. wines grow in popularity on the world’s stage while giving a boost to the local economy.”

Miles Prodan, president of  Wine Growers British Columbia said the approval of the new sub-GIs in the Okanagan Valley acknowledge the “consistently unique terroir” within the region which was known for its diverse soil types, climatic conditions and resulting styles of wine, rep

“The introduction of sub-regions of notable sense of place is the natural next step in the evolution of our wine industry, and a win for consumers and wine growers alike,” he said.

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