Wine awards. Whether you love them, hate them, or land somewhere between, they’re a part of wine life. In broad terms, I think they’re a good thing.

I’m not a wine critic. I look for reviews and shelf talkers like everyone else. It’s true that I live in the heart of BC wine country with access to great wines – and their makers. But I seek advice and guidance from those in the know. Awards can, and do, still ring a certain bell with me.

Someone, somewhere, thought the wine was worthy of recognition. 

Spring in BC wine country brings the Best of Varietal Wine Awards from the Okanagan Wine Festivals. Wineries in the province choose to be members of the Festivals society (it’s non-profit), and those who are members can choose to enter their wines for competition. Notice that I wrote “choose to”. This is important.

Although a lovely thought, there are no roving bands of wine experts traipsing about the country/continent/world in pursuit of recognizing wine excellence. If there was I’m sure they’d wear neck scarves and haute couture, eat unpasteurized cheese, and carry their own stemware.

In reality, people who study wine for a living often juggle multiple vocations to keep doing their wine-thing. These people can be called upon to evaluate wine for competition. The experience of a judging panel varies, as does the competition criteria. One award is not the same as another. That being said, I like the spirit of the Best of Varietal Wine Awards in BC. It’s a great start to the spring wine festival. Do people disagree? You bet. But the intention is lovely: celebrating our awesome wine industry.

I was invited to attend the Awards event on May 2 and to taste a few of the 100 winning wines. (dude – I couldn’t taste all of them)

A recap is forthcoming on EAT Magazine – I’ll list some of my personal standouts. Meanwhile, here’s a peek at what I saw.




OKWF Spring Awards 01

awards coordinator Marjorie King pours a taste for Gerrit of BC Wine Shop


OKWF Spring Awards 2

play spot-the-winemaker. it’s a fun game.

OKWF Spring Awards 03

sponsors and Festival board members poured while wineries, event attendees, and winemakers sipped. nice role reversal.


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