Summer. Time for wine with friends. Even if you don't have an opportunity to visit a winery this summer, hopefully you'll have a few nights to share good bottles with people you like. Here are five fine BC wines to search for now:
1. Quails' Gate 2016 Dry Riesling (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)
Trivia: The Stewart family, who own Quails' Gate, planted their first vines in 1961; the winery, one of Canada's oldest, has been around since 1989. Mouthwatering and crisp, with note of flowers and just a hint of that classic Riesling petrol note, this classic OK Riesling is always a hit at dinner parties in the summer. Serve cold, with a light curry, or perhaps a pork tenderloin cooked on the barbecue. (Incidentally, Quails' Gate just announced they have a new winemaker, Ross Bakery; he's been with the winery since 2013 and was promoted this past week.) Excellent value. About $16.
Fun label and a fun wine to drink, this off-dry white blend is made for last-minute casual gatherings with friends. Citrus, pineapple and spicy notes aim to please. Cool stuff: Monte Creek Ranch is located near Kamloops, BC, in one of Canada's up-and-coming wine regions. The three-year-old winery is family-owned and operated, and uses organic viticulture when possible. (That's a pic of the beautiful winery up top, courtesy of Monte Creek.) About $16.
3. Hester Creek 2017 Cabernet Franc Rosé (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)
I admit I'm a bit biased when it comes to rosé, especially many rosés from British Columbia. I love them. I can't imagine a summer without them. And I search them out whenever possible. I'm not alone; rosé wines are one of the fastest-growing wine retail categories in North America these days.
Hester Creek's fine pink doesn't disappoint, with its intense strawberry and pomegranate flavours. Serve chilled, with fresh bread and a wedge of Brillat-Savarin cheese, or your fave triple-creme Brie. Heavenly. Even better, plan to drink it at Terrafina, the winery's outstanding restaurant. About $20.
4. Hillside 2017 Gewurztraminer (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)
Gewurztraminer is a white wine that's often overlooked by many of my white wine-loving friends, but it shouldn't be.
This pretty example from Hillside Winery has lovely floral and grapefruit flavours; serve chilled with pork or a Thai curry that's not super-spicy. Located on the incredibly beautiful Naramata Bench, Hillside has a lovely bistro, too, in case you're looking for a memorable meal when you're in the region. About $20.
I always love a visit to Summerhill—one of the first wineries I ever visited in Canada as an adult. (My parents used to take us around when we were kids...) And this organic Pinot Gris never disappoints. I have shared many bottles of this with friends in summer and winter, and it's always a favourite, with its fragrant pear and citrus notes. Organic winemaking has been practiced at Summerhill since 1986. About $22 a bottle.