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Okanagan Wine in VanCity

Local Wine for Urban Times

As an urban hub that respects and values a farm-to-table philosophy, it’s no surprise to know that nearly all of the restaurants in Vancouver (that have a wine list) offer Okanagan wines to their guests. From dazzling by-the-glass sparkling wines, to a selection of large format — Magnums (1.5ltr), Jeroboams (3ltr), and Methuselah’s (6ltr)— iconic wines, the Vancouver wine scene is clearly stating their desire for Okanagan wines. In fact, this thirst for Okanagan wines even extends past the dinner table, and is being enjoyed in community cafés where local freelancers and UBC students set up office for the afternoon after a sweaty fitness class (more on that below).

Restaurants of Mention

As mentioned above, the restaurants of Vancouver all boast an Okanagan wine selection. And in some cases have chosen to serve BC wine exclusively. But here are some of the best and most innovative places you need to know about in the city when it comes to Okanagan wine.   

  • CIN CIN : Living Large (format) with Top Somm BC, Shane Taylor
    Wine director, British Columbia’s Top Sommelier of the Year 2017 (#NBD), and Top Sommelier Canada finalist, Shane Taylor, brings BC wine into superior Italian dining

At first thought, one might be surprised that a dialed in Italian restaurant concept would host such am extensive selection of BC wines. But, as their Wine Director, Shane Taylor mentions, the notion of drinking local is actually quite Italian, indeed. This also reflects the restaurant’s deep rooted [Italian] philosophy of using locally sourced ingredients for their dishes.

Cin Cin has about 150 BC labels on their list, and Taylor says, “Guests ask for the (BC) wines whether they are local or visiting from other provinces or countries”. It’s true, everyone wants in on the Okanagan wine hype — especially when they have the stamp-of-approval from one of the top wine palates in the country. From by-the-glass options, to coveted “cult wines”, and large format bottles that will widen your eyes in their novelty, there is a taste of delicious Okanagan to suit everyone.  This is also a great place to taste some of the Italian varietals that are being made in the Okanagan. You can get geeky here with BC Barbera, Sangiovese, and Dolcetto!

  • TURF : The Wellness Trifecta
    your office, modern fitness centre, and all-local ingredient bistro/wine bar.

In the heart of Kitsilano (my home residing) is the powerful trifecta of fitness, local fare, and wine bar. Sounds too good to be true, but it’s for real. Turf focusses on health and wellness by empowering the Kitsilano community with sweaty fitness classes in a modern facility, and a hip bistro upstairs showcasing the best of local produce and wine exclusively from the Okanagan. Their philosophy is all about real, and raw wellness. Because they put such tremendous value on local produce, they are proud to serve Okanagan wines exclusively.  It’s no doubt that this trendy spot is always lively and full of local freelancers, UBC students, and good-looking fitness fanatics.

  • FORAGE : Committed to Sustainable Dining
    exclusively BC wine.

In the West End in Vancouver on Robson Street is Forage, a restaurant and catering team committed to “respecting our land and water”. Congruent with their strong commitment to local ingredients that showcase the best-of-the-west, Forage presents the most extensive list of wines exclusively from British Columbia in all of Vancouver. The list is well organized by its sub-region of origin and style with corresponding maps and legends that allow the guest to fully understand the wine’s place of origin. Amidst the beautifully modern restaurant setting, the service team’s passion for sustainability and showing the best-of local fare is not limited by the walls of the restaurant and is known for top-notch catering services. In fact, the Forage catering team was chosen to dine the Top Sommelier Canada 2017 contestants in local Fraser Valley vineyards.

  • TAP & BARREL : Wine on Tap
    wine flight friendly and exclusively BC wine

Approaching wine with a new edge of service, Tap & Barrel offers its wine all on tap at each of its three locations. Committed to reducing a carbon footprint, the exclusively BC wine program at Tap & Barrel completely eliminates the use of bottles, corks labels and packaging. In fact, if you look at the wine list, you will notice a 6oz pour, 9oz pour, or 750mL pour. If you ordered the 750 ml (equivalent to one full bottle), it is served in a carafe. Non-conventional to say the least, and certainly an innovative way to enjoy Okanagan wine. Tap & Barrel also works with a selection of Okanagan wineries to produce wines exclusively made for their wine list, like Sperling Vineyards’ Wild Ferment Estate Riesling 2015, The Hatch’s Left Bank Blanc Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2015, Painted Rock’s Single Barrel Syrah 2013 — and about a dozen more.
Of course, we all can relate to the difficulty of choosing one wine for the whole of the evening, so Tap & Barrel offers endless wine flights. With the 2oz pours available for their entire wine list, you can taste the full spectrum to your heart (and intellect’s) content.

Here to Stay and Grow

The Okanagan wine scene in Vancouver is vibrant. From award winning wine programs to local hipster bars, Okanagan wine is a staple in the success of Vancouver wine lists. The Vancouver market is serious about sustainable products, local ingredients, and top-quality palate–pleasers, which pave the way for Okanagan wines to continue to hold a position of high demand.  With such desire to enjoy local bounties, Okanagan wine is everywhere in Vancouver, and claims a position of market power and deliciousness.

Alex Anderson is a wine writer, graphic designer, and holds a WSET Advanced certificate with distinction. Alex is a Vancouverite with a passion for wine, communication and design. A sommelier by night, and an international freelance graphic artist and writer by day. You can connect and follow her vibrant and insightful wine endeavours on Instagram @wine.with.alexx

1 Comment

  • February 27, 2018

    My husband and myself tried a wine in medicine hat Alberta at a wedding and it was from Oliver BC it was really good we’re still trying to find it