The Okanagan had the pleasure of welcoming back B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on her annual visit to wine country to present the coveted Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines last week.
Arriving on Thursday, July 24, Guichon arrived via bus along with her entourage of guests including members of the Government House Foundation as well as an impressive array of Members of the Consular Corps ranging from Russia to Ecuador.
To be eligible for the competition, wines must be made from 100 per cent grapes and grown and processed within British Columbia. Some 12 wines were chosen by a panel of seven distinguished judges (that included Sid Cross, Tim Pawsey, John Schreiner and Treve Ring) from an astounding 436 wine submissions from 119 British Columbia wineries.
I happily traveled along with the merry crew over the three days, winding their way through our bucolic wine trails beginning in Oliver and then continuing through Okanagan Falls, Naramata, Penticton, Summerland and onto Kelowna.
The bus did not stop here though—the last destination was in Lillooet to present the final wine award to Fort Berens Winery. It was so heart warming to observe the pride and obvious thrill for the winners to accept the award from Guichon personally.
The Lieutenant Governor, a rancher from the nearby Nicola Valley, was very earnest in expressing her admiration for the winners. A self-confessed novice in the wine world, she is a passionate advocate for the preservation of agricultural land and noted that “the grapes have kept us in agriculture” and that “the land has been well cared for and stewarded by the vineyard owners.“ We must remember that our wineries are in fact grape farmers that happily make up a great many acres of British Columbia farmland.
New to the Okanagan this year was the chance to host the Government House Foundation Gala Ball. The Gala was held at the Laurel Packinghouse in Kelowna and was western-themed this year, complete with elegant cowboy dress code and a country band, designed to honour Lieutenant Governor Guichon’s ranching background.
The Gala has been hosted in Victoria in the past but the foundation expressed the desire to reach out to other communities this year to help spread the word about the commendable work it is doing.
The Government House Foundation was initially created “to foster the preservation of Government House and its grounds; to enhance its decor, character, maintenance, historical and cultural values; and to provide funding for the Lieutenant Governor’s programs and awards”.
Significant programs and projects are funded by the Government House Foundation including the wonderful Write To Read Project that is working to increase the level of literacy among aboriginal people in British Columbia through book donations and the creation of libraries to place within the communities. To read more about the Foundation’s work go to www.ltgov.bc.ca/
Congratulations to the Wine Award recipients this year:
8th Generation Vineyard
Merlot Cabernet Franc 2012
Fort Berens Estate Winery
Hester Creek Estate Winery
Block 2 Reserve Merlot 2011
Howling Bluff Estate Winery
Summa Quies Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon 2013
Kraze Legz Vineyard & Winery
Skaha Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay 2013
Laughing Stock Vineyards
Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir 2011
Syrah Reserve 2010
Quails’ Gate Winery
Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay 2012
Ruby Blues Winery
Wayne Gretzky Okanagan
The Great Red 2011