Anthony Gismondi: Vineyard plantings continue to increase in B.C.

Anthony Gismondi breaks down the latest numbers on overall wine grape acreage in British Columbia

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The numbers are finally in, and after six years, we have updated figures on the overall wine grape acreage in British Columbia.

The data for this report was collected in 2019 by the B.C. Wine Grape Council and the compilation and summary were completed this February, comprising all reported acreage. It is estimated the data comprises 95 per cent of the B.C. wine grape acreage and vineyard counts could range +/- 55, and acreage values could range +/- 550 acres. The information was compiled by agronomists George Geldart and Carl Withler with reviews and edits provided by staff/members of the B.C. Wine Council and the B.C. Grapegrowers’ Association

We begin with overall vineyard plantings that continue to expand, although the rate is slowing, increasing at only 8.05 per cent or 826.30 acres from 2014 to 2019. Interestingly about half of the growing regions saw an increase in planted acreage while the other half have experienced declines.


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Oliver, the self-proclaimed wine capital of Canada, continues to pile up the acreage adding 704.89 acres to reach an impressive 4344.20 acres and 219 vineyards. Next up in growth are Kelowna/West Kelowna (228.07 acres), followed by Penticton/Naramata/Kaleden (213.30 acres), Summerland/Peachland (103.77 acres) and Lake Country/Vernon (90.37 acres).

The regions reporting reduced acres planted were Osoyoos (326.69 acres), Vancouver Island (112.22 acres), Fraser Valley (45.85 acres) and Similkameen Valley (24.66 acres). In the end, the numbers point to 11,086 acres (4,486 hectares) of wine grapes, of which 53.1 per cent are red grapes, 46.9 per cent are white, 97.5 per cent are vinifera based, while 2.5 per cent of all grapes are hybrid.

When it comes to the top 10 grapes in the ground, little has changed since 2014. They account for just over 80 per cent of all plantings, while the top five grapes comprise 55 per cent of the acreage.

It’s no surprise that Merlot continues to dominate as the most widely planted variety in the province, even if it remains the least talked about and unappreciated category in the province.

The biggest change saw Pinot Noir move past Pinot Gris as the second most planted variety. Pinot Noir is probably the most talked-about grape in B.C., yet it is the most difficult to grow, while the critics constantly diss Pinot Gris.

Chardonnay remains the fourth most planted grape, while number five goes to Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc slipped by Gewürztraminer into 6th place, Riesling jumped over Syrah to land in 8th while Sauvignon Blanc rounds out the top 10.


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Other noteworthy numbers concern the increase in vineyards from 2014 to 2019 across the province from 929 to 1,049. Winery-operated vineyards increased by 15 per cent, with vineyard numbers increasing from 412 to 537. The average size counts out to 14.72 acres. Independent grower-operated vineyard acreage decreased 4.8 per cent over the same period, with total numbers down only five from 517 to 512. The average size of independent vineyards sits at 6.2 acres.

Overall the number of wineries in B.C. increased 11 per cent from 254 to 282, suggesting the bubble has yet to burst, despite incredible land prices for planted grape acreages hovering at $350,000 per acre with the biggest interest in winter hardy red grapes that are early ripening. The reports suggest there may be more Gamay and Cabernet Franc available in the next three years.

Other revealing side notes include renewing existing plantings in the Thompson region with varieties like Riesling doing well. The inclusion of Minnesota (hybrid) varieties to the B.C. VQA list has been beneficial to the region and will likely contribute to the Thompson varietal profile down the road.

Grape acreages on the Islands remain premium, as wineries seek to produce estate/land-based wines with 100 per cent Island grown fruit. Longer, hotter summers have benefited the region generally, but the hotter summers have challenged existing vineyards to continue without irrigation. And you are up to date.


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Weekend Wine Picks

Di Lenardo Pinot Grigio Monovitigno 2019, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

$18.99 I 88/100

UPC: 8007711000055

Massimo di Lenardo is in charge of this spectacular property, founded in 1878. He mixes estate fruit with purchased fruit from the DOC regions Friuli Grave, Friuli Aquileia, and Colli Orientali Del Friuli. All grapes are harvested by hand and are made with modern technology, including solar energy to generate all the electricity used at the winery. The style is clean and bright with the softness of Fruili mixed with floral honey, baked pear, citrus, apple, quince, and almond. Most seafood works here, but my pick is spaghetti carbonara.

Moraine Pinot Gris 2020, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

$22 I 89/100

UPC: 626990127703

The Moraine Pinot Gris comes off two Naramata Bench sites: Anastasia Estate Vineyard (72 per cent) and Sunrise Vineyard (28 per cent), sitting on an old moraine deposit leading to its tighter, juicy orchard fruit style. It’s not the intense Alsace style or the drier, lean, acidic style the cool kids like. But it is delicious and offers far more interest than your run-of-the-mill Pinot Gris, boosted by a stellar vintage and precise winemaking. Ready to drink. Stock up for summer.

Alamos Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

$14.99 I 88/100

UPC: 085000018194

The Catena family does not have their name on the label, but they are the folks behind the Alamos brand that appears to have pulled up its socks over the last five years. The fruit is all high-altitude, and the style is rich and full-bodied. A tiny amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo is in the mix that spends eight months in French and American oak. The flavours are black and blue, the tannins fluffy soft with just a touch of rusticity. Anything fire-grilled will pull this wine altogether. The super-light glass bottle is not unnoticed. Good value.


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San Felice Chianti Classico 2018, Tuscany, Italy

$19.99 I 88/100

UPC: 709067110096

San Felice works only with native varieties, and in this case, it’s mostly Sangiovese with small amounts of Colorino and Pugnitello. The local varieties tow the lighter, fresher red fruit styling of classic Chianti, where elegance is prized above all. Post ferment, the wine spends one year in large older Slavonian oak casks. Look for a firm, youthful mix of red cherries and cranberries with a forest floor and earth brush. Again a wine constructed for food such as a mushroom or Tuscan pizza.

Luigi Bosca Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

$23.99 I 90/100

UPC: 7791203001231

A steady, value-for-money performer, the latest edition comes from an outstanding year in Argentina. At more than 50 years old, the east-facing, biodynamically farmed vines are matured at Finca La Linda, at 950 metres above sea level in Luján de Cuyo. The nose and palate are rich and expressive, offering black plum flecked with blueberries and black raspberries, spending a year in French oak to round out the edges and firm up the tannins. This one is age-worthy, but you can drink now with grilled beef or the classic Italian offering, spaghetti Bolognese. Good value.

Trattoria Breakfast Pizza.
Trattoria Breakfast Pizza. Tara Armstrong

Recipe match: Trattoria breakfast pizza

It may be called a “breakfast pizza,” but we think this pie is perfect for enjoying at any time of the day. Incorporating a few of the usual suspects for toppings — think: shredded mozzarella, bacon and tomato — this pizza, cooked up by the team at Trattoria, also includes a few unexpected delights such as whipping cream, ricotta and eggs:


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Trattoria breakfast pizza

1 preferred pizza dough, can be frozen precooked

60 ml whipping cream

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

4 slices, thinly sliced pancetta, bacon or ham

1/4 cup sliced green onion

1/8 cup sliced sun-dried tomato or cherry sun-dried tomato

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1-2 large eggs

2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves (optional)

Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. On a sheet pan, stretch or lay the precooked pizza dough. Spread the whipping cream on the dough as the sauce base. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Place the pancetta (ham or bacon), sun-dried tomato and green onion all over the pizza.

Using a spoon, add a few dollops of the ricotta where desired on the pizza. Crack the egg or two eggs in the middle of the pizza. Bake in the oven for 8 to 15 minutes, depending on type of oven you have. Top with fresh oregano leaves, if desired, and season with salt and fresh-cracked pepper.

Makes one pizza.

Recipe match

Breakfast pizza can only mean throw caution to the wind and open some sparkling rosé.

Bottega Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco Rosé Brut N/V, Treviso, Verona, Veneto, Italy $19.99

Fizzy, primary floral/fruit aroma of green apple, white peach, citrus, and wild strawberries flavours add some lift to your morning pizza.

Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne N/V, Burgundy, France $23.49

Lots of overt cherries, raspberry aromas and tart pink grapefruit flavours will take on the grease and spice of a breakfast pizza.


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