BC wineries located on the Golden Mile Bench wine growing area near Oliver have recently submitted a proposal to become the first official sub-DVA “Designated Viticultural Area” of the Okanagan Valley DVA.
An in-depth scientific analysis by scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre – Summerland (AAFC-PARC Summerland) has shown the area has a combination of landform, landscape position, mesoclimate, air drainage, and soil materials that make it distinct within the Okanagan Valley, contributing to the production of unique wines.
Two years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre as part of a media FAMS, learning about this vital organization’s goal of balancing agricultural activities with a sustainable environment.
A group of are producers have been exploring the concept of proposing a Golden Mile Bench DVA since 2009. After much discussion, debate and an in-depth study of the region’s terroir by Scott Smith, M.Sc. Soil Scientist with AAFC-PARC Summerland in conjunction with Dr. Pat Bowen, Ph.D. Research Scientist, Viticulture and Plant Physiology also at AAFC-PARC Summerland, the final boundaries were decided.
Wine consultant Rhys Pender MW of Wine Plus+ helped to compile the proposal.
With the Okanagan Valley DVA comprising around four-fifths of BC’s vineyard area, yet producing wines from many different mesoclimates and terroirs, it is a widely held belief that there is a need to break this large, single appellation into meaningful, scientifically unique sub-DVAs that produce distinctive wines. Golden Mile Bench is the first such application to the BC Wine Authority.
The proposal was submitted to the BC Wine Authority (BCWA) on May 20. The BCWA will conduct consultations within the region and a vote by ballot amongst the relevant stakeholders within the proposed region’s boundaries. Once the due diligence has been completed and assuming the BCWA determines that all requirements have been met, it will then submit the proposal to the Minister of Agriculture for approval.
All those involved with the initiative hope that this will be the start of creating a number of scientifically defined unique sub-DVAs that will help tell the story of the unique regions of the Okanagan Valley.