BC Wine Institute supports province’s first ever sub-appellation


Proposed geographical boundaries of the Golden Mile Bench
Proposed geographical boundaries of the Golden Mile Bench


The British Columbia Wine Institute is lauding the recent decision by the BC Wine Authority to approve the first sub-appellation in the province.

Known as the Golden Mile Bench, located on the western slope of the Okanagan Valley south of Oliver, this marks the first sub-Designated Viticultural Area (or sub-Geographical Indication) of the Okanagan Valley DVA. The Golden Mile Bench is the first such application to the BC Wine Authority.


“The designation of the Golden Mile Bench sub-appellation is a reflection of the maturation and progress of BC’s premium wine industry,” says Miles Prodan, President and CEO of the BCWI. “We would like to congratulate the successful applicants and thank the BC Wine Authority for its support of this decision. Having sub-DVA status for Golden Mile Bench wines is not only a marketing tool for the region but also for wines made using 100 per cent BC grapes.”


The Okanagan Valley DVA comprises more than 80 per cent of British Columbia’s total vineyard area, but consists of areas with distinctive terroir, including soil types and micro-climates.


“The BCWI Board of Directors would like to salute the leadership of our member wineries on the Golden Mile Bench in taking this initiative forward to the BCWA. It is a bold step to create a new sub-appellation that will continue to advance the BC VQA system,” adds Josie Tyabji, chair of the BCWI Board of Directors. “This is another significant milestone toward building the reputation of 100 per cent Canadian wines both here at home and abroad, which is one of the BCWI’s key priorities for the BC wine industry.”


Golden Mile Bench terminology will now apply to all of the vineyards within the defined boundaries. Any winery (not just those located in the sub-DVA) making wine from grapes exclusively grown in the sub-DVA will be able to use the name Golden Mile Bench as an appellation of origin on the wine label, subject to audit by the BCWA.


To review the application including the delineation of the region, click here. For a map of the Okanagan Valley DVA, click here.



A group of producers in the area has explored 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 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre – Summerland (AAFC-PARC Summerland) scientists Scott Smith, M.Sc. Soil Scientist, and Dr. Pat Bowen, Ph.D. Research Scientist, Viticulture and Plant Physiology, the final boundaries were decided. Some of the distinguishing factors of the region include its land form, landscape position, mesoclimate, air drainage and soil materials that make it distinct within the Okanagan Valley, contributing to the production of unique wines. Wine consultant, Rhys Pender, MW, of Wine Plus+ helped to compile the Golden Mile Bench proposal.



About the BC Wine Institute (BCWI)

Since 1990, the BCWI has played a pivotal role in taking BC’s wine industry from a vision to an internationally recognized niche region producing premium wines and providing quality wine tourism experiences.

Representing 134 wineries throughout the province, the BCWI supports and markets the Wines of British Columbia (BC VQA), which gives consumers assurance they are buying a wine that is from 100 per cent BC grapes. BCWI membership represents 95 per cent of total grape wine sales and 94 per cent of total BC VQA wine sales in British Columbia.

The BCWI also markets the wine regions of BC; delivers quality trade, media and consumer tastings; and acts as the voice of BC’s wine industry by advocating to government on behalf of its members.


About  British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance
Put very simply, the BC VQA designation is a guarantee that you’re purchasing 100 per cent BC Wine. BC VQA certified wines are also tasted by a qualified panel to ensure that they are fault free prior to being able to use BC VQA on their labels.

BC VQA stands for “British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance”. The BC VQA program is an “appellation of origin” system, similar to the AOC and DOC systems utilized in France and Italy, respectively. The BC VQA system guarantees 100 per cent BC origin and ensures that qualifying wines meet certain minimum quality requirements. The BC VQA program is operated by the BC Wine Authority, a regulatory body completely independent from both the BCWI and industry generally, which operates under authority delegated to it by the Province.


In addition to BC VQA, the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation also recognizes “Wines of Distinction” – 100 per cent BC wines not bearing the BC VQA symbol and not tasted for quality may be labelled “Product of British Columbia”. These wines must be made from BC grapes, but do not have to go through the BC VQA certification process.


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