B.C. Wine Culture

John and Trish Skinner of Painted Rock are committed to establishing an identity in Okanagan wines by focusing on terroir. Lionel Trudel photo

It has been a juicy year for the B.C. wine industry, one that warrants the cracking of a special bottle to toast the progress and success of our hardworking wineries and their teams. Most recently, new legal wine regions (and sub-regions) have been defined—a decision that came after much hearty discussion, tasting and banter about what it means to be a B.C. wine, and what makes our regional wines unique.

And in terms of what it means to be an Okanagan wine, Painted Rock Estate Winery has set a very high bar. Having just won Winery of the Year at the 2018-19 InterVin International Wine Awards (not their first time either), Painted Rock has been dedicated to the game of making premium Okanagan wines since they planted grapes on a newly purchased bench on Skaha Lake in 2005. It might not seem like so long ago, but in the early 2000s, wineries were still figuring out what worked best on B.C. terroir, and not all of those trailblazing wineries survived. It takes a considerable amount of risk, fearlessness, and commitment to start a winery, especially in a budding region, but John and Trish Skinner of Painted Rock were convinced of the potential to make globally recognized wines in their B.C. backyard, and so they did so, with gusto, precision, and a laser-focus on quality.

Flash forward 15 years and Painted Rock has amassed an impressive collection of awards on an international scale (all while remaining a family-owned and run estate winery!).

Painted Rock’s 2014 Syrah won the gold medal at the 2018-19 InterVin International Wine Awards. Painted Rock Estate Winery photo

But the awards are an aside. What is remarkable is what they have done to help establish an identity in Okanagan wines. Their commitment to terroir-driven wines, with varietals that were believed to be most suited to their land (predominantly Bordeaux), has given them particular insight into what makes Okanagan wines, well, Okanagan. And if you haven’t yet tasted the hallmark balance of fruit ripeness and bright acidity, which comes from a combination of long hot days and cool nights (great for ripening thick-skinned red grapes), then it sounds like the perfect time to crack open that special bottle and celebrate the extraordinary quality of British Columbian wine.

May I suggest the gold medal InterVin winner, Painted Rock’s 2014 Syrah?

Laura Starr is a freelance writer, sommelier and educator, with 20 years under her belt in the hospitality industry. She is also the Wine Editor of VITA Magazine, and sits on the board of directors for the BCHF.

Laura Starr is a freelance writer, sommelier and educator, with 20 years under her belt in the hospitality industry. She is also the Wine Editor of VITA Magazine, and sits on the board of directors for the BCHF.

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