My BC Reds Recommendation

Words: Henry Yuen

A reader who wants to entertain her friends and relatives visiting from Asia this summer asks for my recommendation of BC VQA red wines. I decide to prepare a list of different price points since (1) It is only fair to introduce different tiers at different price points and  (2) The choice of how much to spend and for what occasion is hers. I also like to explain what the price tags entails today, due to the confusing changes,  thanks to the provincial government's new rules and regulations. They managed to overhaul the entire liquor law and distribution system, causing the price to vary depending on where and who the wines are purchased, be it private liquor store, BC VQA store, government liquor store or winery direct.  The other confusing factor is the tax format. New laws call for listed wine price not to incluse taxes whereas under the old liquor law, the final payment at the till was the price shown which included taxes and bottle deposit. Adding to the confusion is the vintage of the wine and the stock situation as new releases come on each year and old stocks are being sold out.

My preference is skewed towards robust wines so the list is emphasised on medium to full bodied wines. With almost 300 wineries active in BC, there are definitely more wines I missed than listed. Wine palate is very personal so people may not agree with my picks which include single varietal and blends.  This list is in no particular order as there is no attempt on my part to rank them. With all the disclaimers taken care of, here is the list of red wines that I would recommend. 


Under $20: With the ever-increasing operation cost in BC, it is a challenge to craft quality wines and be competitive with New World import wines for under $20 margin. Some BC wineries do deliberately price their wines as a marketing & PR tool so at least some of their wines are within reach of the mass consumers to keep their brand relevant and to remain competitive - never under-estimate what winemakers can do even on wine that cost $20 or less!

Tinhorn Creek Merlot
C.C. Jentsch the Chase 2013
Cedar Creek Merlot/Cabernet 2013
Evolve Cellars Cabernet/Merlot
Hester Creek Character Red 2014
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Noir
Road 13 Honest John’s Red
Sandhill Syrah - Sandhill Estate
See Ya Later Ranch – Majors Block Red Blend
Summerhill Alive Red Organic 2011/2012
Arrowleaf Zweigelt
La Stalla Fortissimo
Moraine Cliffhanger Red
Nk’Mip Merlot
Monte Creek Cab/Merlot
Kismet Karma
Blue Grouse Quill Red
Haywire Narrative Red

Under $35: The selections are plenty, thanks to the passionate and skilled winemakers here in BC, and of course, to Mother Nature who has blessed pockets of our land in more regions than ever. Not a bad idea to take a read of my other articles on BC wines or go online to learn more about the wineries and winemakers,
Joie Farm PTG
Le Vieux Pin Petit Rouge
Mission Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
Moraine Malbec
C.C. Jentsch Syrah
Nk’Mip Cabernet Sauvignon Qwmt Qwmt
Poplar Grove Monster Cabs
Quail’s Gate OV Foch
Serendipity Devil’s Advocate
Spierhead Vanguard
St. Hubertus Marechal Foch
Stag’s Hollow Syrah
Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc
Bartier Bros Merlot
Black Sage Cabernet Franc
Blasted Church Jesus Murphy
Fort Berens Meritage 2013
Hester Creek Cabernet Franc Reserve Block 3
Mission Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
Painted Rock Merlot
Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc
Moraine Mountain Red
Spierhead Golden Retreat Pinot Noir
St. Hurbertus Marechal Foch
Time Estate Winery McWatters Meritage
Moon Curser Contraband Malbec
Young & Wyse Cabernet Sauvignon

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Over $35: The list is by no means complete but represents a good chunk of the worth-tasting, perhaps award-winning BC VQA wines. Some are higher priced and may not be easy to find. Others, such as One Faith, has a minimum order of three bottles. Some wineries sell the higher-priced collector worthy wines to wine club members only. It doesn’t hurt to call the winery to ask for the wine you are looking for if you exhaust other means. Please note that some wines need additional cellaring to reach its prime. So be patience. In any case, all will benefit from decanting for proper breathing. Finally, to fully enjoy good wines, proper glassware will enhance the experience.

Osoyoos Larose
Mission Hill Oculus
Mission Hill Quatrain
Cedar Creek Merlot Platinum Desert Ridge
Laughing Stock Portfolio
Perseus Invictus
Poplar Grove Legacy
One Faith Vineyards
Hester Creek The Judge
Clos Du Soleil Signature
Le Vieux Pin “Cuvee Violette” Syrah
Sumac Ridge Pinnacle (if you can find it)
Black Hills Nota Bene
Nk’Mip Mer’r’iym