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The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards

In 2018, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, with support from the Government House Foundation, and The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society announced a new partnership in recognizing the best of British Columbia wines with the creation of the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.

The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards replaced the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in B.C. Wine and the B.C. Wine Awards. The new competition is open to all licensed wineries in British Columbia, including fruit wines and mead. Bronze, silver and gold medals are awarded, with the top 1% of medal winners receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s platinum medal and with one wine receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Best Wine in British Columbia.


The Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines were established in 2003 to recognize excellence in the province’s wine industry. All wineries in British Columbia are welcome to submit up to four of their wines for blind judging by a panel of wine industry professionals. The wines submitted must be made from 100% British Columbian grown grapes and produced in province to be eligible. Since its inception, the program has grown steadily each year. The award was established in 2003 by The Honourable Iona Campagnolo when she was Lieutenant Governor.

In 2018 a few changes will occure. The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, will manage and carry the costs of the judging.  It rebrands as The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.  Bronze, silver and gold medals are awarded, with the top 1% of medal winners receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s platinum medal and with one wine receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Best Wine in British Columbia.

The main points…

• The BC Wine Awards, under the auspices of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, will manage and carry the costs of the judging.  It rebrands as The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards

• Wines entered must be 100 percent BC grown.

• The Premier’s Award will become the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Best Wine in BC

• The Platinum Award will become  the Lieutenant Governor’s Platinum Award. A maximum of 15 wines will be awarded in a given year.

• The Lieutenant Governor will still endeavour to present the awards in person.

• There will be a formal dinner and recognition for the winners at Government House


The 2021 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year Award went to Tantalus Vineyards 2018 Old Vines Riesling

The top wines that received platinum medals 2021

Arrowleaf Cellars – 2019 Riesling
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – 2019 Syrah
CedarCreek Estate Winery – 2020 Platinum Home Block Rosé
Chain Reaction Winery – 2019 Tailwind Pinot Gris
ENRICO WINERY – 2020 Shining Armour Pinot Gris
Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Winery – 2018 Estate Riesling Icewine
Kismet Estate Winery – 2018 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Liquidity Wines – 2020 Rosé
Maan Farms Estate Winery – 2020 Raspberry Table Wine
Mission Hill Family Estate – 2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc
Mission Hill Family Estate – 2019 Perpetua
Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery – 2020 Original Vines Sémillon
Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery – 2018 Reserve Syrah
Silhouette Estate Winery – N/V Boyd Classic Cuveé
Silkscarf Winery – 2017 Syrah-Viognier
SpearHead Winery – 2019 Pinot Noir Saddle Block
SpearHead Winery – 2019 Pinot Noir Cuveé
SpearHead Winery – 2019 Pinot Noir Golden Retreat
Tantalus Vineyards – 2018 Chardonnay
Three Sisters Winery – 2019 Rebecca

2020 results

Wine of the year 2019 is:

Deep Roots Syrah 2017 (Naramata Bench) $29.48—which edged out other strong Syrah finishers.

Founder’s Award to  the late Harry McWatters.

Winners of Platinum Awards (which replaced the original BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in BC wine) are:

Black Hills Estate Winery Roussanne 2017 (South Okanagan) $29.90 • C.C. Jentsch Cellars Syrah 2016 (South Okanagan) $31.90

Deep Roots Winery Parentage Red 2016 (Naramata Bench) $32.56

Lake Breeze Vineyards Aura Pinot Noir 2017 (Naramata Bench) $40.00

Harper’s Trail Pioneer Block Riesling 2018 (Thompson Valley) $18.29

Moon Curser Vineyards Touriga Nacional 2017 (South Okanagan) $39.99

Nk’Mip Cellars Winery Qwam Qwmt Riesling 2018 (South Okanagan) $ 23.99

Privato Vineyard and Winery Tesoro Pinot Noir 2016 (North Okanagan) $34.69

Road 13 Vineyards Syrah Malbec 2017 (South Okanagan) $32.17

Sandhill Riesling Icewine 2018 (Okanagan Valley) $47.00

Van Westen Vineyards Vulture Cabernet Franc 2016 (Naramata Bench) $40.00

Wayne Gretzky Okanagan Signature Series Shiraz 2016 (Okanagan Valley)  $ 24.99

Complete results

2018* platinum medal

Sperling Vineyards Sparkling Brut 2011 ($43.49 for 200 six-packs). This is a traditional Champagne method wine made with Pinot Blanc from a 1996 planting. The wine spent five years on the lees before being disgorged. It has classic bready/bisquity aromas and flavours from time on the lees. There are also flavours of citrus and apple. Good acidity gives the wine a crisp, tangy finish. The bubbles are fine and persistent. (My tasting notes.)

Black Hills Estate Winery Syrah 2016 ($39.90). This vintage of Syrah is elegant, offering notes of blackberry, blueberry, and black & white pepper on the nose with hints of cocoa and eucalyptus lingering in the background. Soft, supple tannins dominate the palate with rich black fruit carrying through for a mouth-watering finish. This wine will pair well with wild game and hearty red meat dishes. Enjoy now or cellar for up to eight years.

Hillside Estate Winery Reserve Pinot Gris 2017 ($24). Our classic Pinot Gris—luscious ripe fruit created scents of orange blossoms and vanilla mingled with tropical fruit aromas followed by a rich and supple mid-palate.  

Kismet Estate Winery Syrah Reserve 2016 ($39.99). Syrah is especially suited to the warm dry climate of the South Okanagan, where it reaches full ripeness with deep purple colour and spicy aromas. Aged for 18 months in new French and American oak barrique barrels. Bright cherry red colour with a good depth and bluish hues at the rim. Intense red currant and red berry fruit aromas along with spice and vanilla. A lively, vibrant palate with intense flavours.

Kismet Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Reserve 2016 span>($39.99). Smokey toasty, blackberry, black cherry and leather. Sumptuous soft and seamless texture. Focused acidity lifts the fruit of this viscous wine. Structured bold and emery tannins complete the finish. Aged for 18 months in French and American barrique barrels.

Lake Breeze Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 ($25.90 but sold out). Best wine of the show. This wine is a medium bodied elegant red with rich aromas and flavours of strawberries and plum, followed by a touch of warm spice. Well integrated tannins and generous length reflects the terroir of this estate grown Pinot Noir. An excellent structured wine designed for food.

Little Engine Winery Silver Pinot Noir 2016 ($35).A beautiful ruby colour wine that beckons with initial notes of savoury herbs, dried brush and red fruit leather.  Fresh and juicy start on the palate with bing cherries and dried hibiscus with a considerably lengthy finish highlighting spicy red fruits, anise and a touch of tarragon. Approachable and silky upon release this wine will develop well through 2023 under ideal cellaring conditions.

Moon Curser Vineyards Touriga Nacional 2016 ($39.99). The 2016 Touriga Nacional is a dry, medium-bodied red wine with a nose of spice, red fruits, fennel seed and floral notes. The palate is similar to the nose but with hints of leather, tobacco and cedar. Medium weight, with a silky mouthfeel and approachable tannin and acid structure, the wine delivers an intriguing profile of savoury and fruity characters.

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2016($28.99).span>These Chardonnay grapes were whole-bunch pressed to extract the highest quality of juice. Complete malolactic fermentation during 10 months in French oak barrels developed the unique bouquet and mouth-feel. Rich and nutty in flavour, offering lots of caramel, marzipan and pear. Enticing and aromatic with subtle layering of honey and pineapple is followed by a lingering vanilla finish.

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Totally Botrytis Affected Optima 2017 ($28.99 for 375 ml). For more than 25 years Quails’ Gate has become known for this wonderfully unique dessert wine. Our Optima grapes are grown at the base of the Quails’ Gate Estate vineyards where the proximity to the lake encourages a micro flora known as Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot to grow on the ripe grapes, which concentrates the flavours and intensifies the sugars to produce a Sauterne-style wine.

Rust Wine Co. Syrah 2016 ($37). Q Block is situated on the northern edge of the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. Sandy loam soils and a western aspect produce a Syrah with ripe black fruits, cracked pepper and olive notes. Will continue to age well for 5+ years.

Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Pinot Blanc 2017 ($16.52) The lovely aromas and flavours of this wine make it one of the unsung heroes of BC wines. This small production wine has a nose that shows melon & minerality, while the palate tastes of pear and white pepper. The buttery mouthfeel is balanced with a lengthy finish that goes on and on and …

Wild Goose Vineyards Riesling 2017 ($16.52).  This fruit forward Riesling comes from estate grown grapes, including the 33-year-old Wild Goose Vineyards and the 11-year-old Secrest Vineyards. Sweet reserve is added to balance the refreshing racy acidity, a “classic” method of winemaking. The nose shows aromas of floral, spice and apricot, while flavours of minerality and citrus follow.

* tasting notes are those of John Schriener or the winery. I have tasted the Wild Goose wines and Lake Breeze they are all outstanding wines.


Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
Cabernet Franc 2014

Cassini Cellars
The Aristocrat Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 *

Cassini Cellars
Nobilus Merlot 2013 *

Castoro de Oro Estate Winery
Crimson Rhapsody 2014

Gray Monk Estate Winery
Odyssey White Brut 2014

The Hatch
Crown + Thieves “The Broken Barrel” Syrah 2013

Howling Bluff Estate Winery
Century Block Pinot Noir 2013

Kitsch Wines
Riesling 2015

Maverick Estate Winery
Bush Vine Syrah 2014

Noble Ridge Vineyards and Winery
“The One” Sparkling 2012

Perseus Winery
Invictus 2013

Upper Bench Estate Winery
Upper Bench Estate Chardonnay 2015



This year, 504 wines were submitted by 135 wineries. Wines submitted had to be from 100% British Columbian grown grapes and produced in province to be eligible.

Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery 2013 Living Desert Red

Ex Nihilo Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir

Gold Hill Winery 2013 Meritage Family Reserve

Hester Creek Estate Winery 2013 Syrah Viognier

Intersection Estate Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc

Kismet Estate Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Lunessence Winery & Vineyard 2014 Riesling Icewine

Okanagan Crush Pad Winery 2014 Haywire The Bub

Quails’ Gate 2014 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay

Red Rooster Winery 2012 Reserve Merlot

Ruby Blues Winery 2015 Commune Viognier

St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery 2014 Riesling


2015 Winners

In 2015, 425 wines were submitted from 116 wineries in British Columbia


BC Wine Studio Siren’s Call Syrah 2012 ($25). This big and bold red begins with aromas of black cherry, oak and delicatessen spices. On the palate, there is more black cherry and plum with classic notes of white and black pepper.

Blasted Church Vineyards Holy Moly 2012 ($31). This is 100% Petit Verdot, a late ripening variety comparatively rare in the Okanagan. The wine begins with an intense dark red colour. The aromas span the gamut from floral perfume, plum and cherry to raw steak. The wine has flavours of black cherry and plum with spice and sage on the finish. There is even a hint of graphite on the finish of a very complex wine.
Cassini Cellars Cabernet Franc Collector’s Series 2012 ($29). Beginning with brambleberry aromas, this concentrated wine has flavours of plum, blackberry and black currant, with a tarry, earthy note on the finish.

Church & State Winery Quintessential 2012 ($55). This is the eighth vintage of Church& State’s award-winning Bordeaux blend. The wine is generous in texture and in flavours. It begins with aromas of black cherry, black currants, vanilla and truffles. On the palate, there are flavours of plum, mulberry, black cherry and dark chocolate.

Enrico Winery & Vineyards Tempest (Ortega) 2014 ($17.50). This wine begins with lovely floral aromas. On the palate, it is intensely fruity with flavours of peach and lime. The residual sweetness lifts the flavours and gives the wine a juicy texture. The first Island winnery to win!

Ex Nihilo Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013 ($32). This is a seductive wine, with aromas and flavours of strawberry and cherry. It is light ruby in colour but, on the palate, the wine has a surprising full texture and persistent flavours.

50th Parallel Estate Chardonnay 2013 ($32).  This wine was fermented and aged 12 months in premium French oak barrels. The wine begins with a buttery and spicy aroma of expensive oak (think of cinnamon and apple pie). That translates to a creamy palate, with flavours of hazelnut, marmalade, baked apple and a never-ending finish. This is an elegant and satisfying Chardonnay.

Inniskillin Okanagan Reserve Riesling Icewine 2014 ($34.95 for 200 ml). A superb Icewine, this has aromas and flavours of lime and ripe pineapple, with brisk acidity to balance the residual sugar. The finish is elegantly fresh and long-lasting. Earlier vintages of this winery’s Icewine also won LG awards in 2013 and 2006.

Lake Breeze Vineyards Merlot 2012 ($17.39). This is a ripe, almost jammy wine with concentrated flavours of cassis, black cherry and blueberry.

Noble Ridge Vineyard& Winery “The One” Sparkling 2010 ($39.90). This sparkling wine cuvée is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. The wine spent about 26 months en tirage before being disgorged in June 2013. It displays the toasty, bready aromas and flavours one expects with Champagne. The bubbles give the wine a creamy mid palate but the finish is crisp and dry.

Platinum Bench Gamay Noir Block 28 2013 ($34.90). This is a dense and concentrated wine with the structure of a Beaujolais Cru (Morgon, perhaps). It has aromas and flavours of black cherry and plum. The fruit is sweet. There are savoury and earthy notes on the finish.

Red Rooster Syrah Reserve 2012 ($26). Dark in colour, this wine has aromas of black cherry, delicatessen spices, rare steak and pepper which are echoed in the flavours. The long finish is pleasantly earthy and peppery.

Ruby Blues Winery Viognier 2014 ($25). This is the third year that this winery has won an award of excellence for Viognier. The 2014 wine is fresh and vibrant with floral fragrances. On the palate, there are flavours of peach, citrus and apple. The wine is juicy and refreshing.

Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery Mystic River Gewürztraminer 2014 ($20.10). This is the eighth award of excellence won by Wild Goose in the 12-year history of the competition. It begins with intense aromas of rose petals and spice and continues with flavours of orange peel, grapefruit and lychee. The wine is dry but the exceptional fruit flavours trick the palate into perceiving slight sweetness.

notes by John Schreiner.


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