New maps of B.C. wine regions let locals and visitors drink them all in

To raise awareness of the province's diverse viticulture conditions, Industry association Wine Growers British Columbia has created topographic maps of the B.C. wine regions.

Credit: Courtesy of Wine Growers British Columbia

There are also individual maps of the province’s nine main wine regions

Industry association Wine Growers British Columbia created the guides to raise awareness of the province’s diverse viticulture conditions

B.C.’s wine industry is already on the map in a big way, but now enthusiasts can really get the lay of the land.

Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC), a nonprofit that has represented local wineries since 1990, just unveiled 10 high-resolution topographic maps giving a detailed picture of the province’s wine regions.

The product of a yearlong consultation with soil scientist Scott Smith and Linda Decker of Vernon-based Geo Earth Mapping, the WGBC maps include an overview and nine geographical indications (GIs): Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, Kootenays, Lillooet, Okanagan Valley, Shuswap, Similkameen Valley, Thompson Valley and Vancouver Island.

GIs, which are formal designations for labelling purposes, tell you which region yielded the fruit in your latest bottle. B.C. also has five sub-GIs: Cowichan Valley, Golden Mile Bench, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Falls and Skaha Bench.

“The maps depict the extent of the GIs which are largely based on watershed boundaries or portions of watersheds,” Smith, principal of Penticton-based Eterrna Consulting, said in a release. “The sub-GI boundaries are based on landforms, which are enduring landscape features that do not change over time.”

Created to raise awareness of B.C.’s diverse topography and grape-growing conditions, the maps show our wine regions’ vast range, from the cooler east coast of Vancouver Island to the Mediterraneanesque Interior. In fact, the province is home to some of the world’s most extreme environments for viticulture, at the highest latitudes the process will allow.

“Whether you are in the wine business, interested in learning about wine or visiting a region, these maps are an important way in understanding B.C. wines and the scope of our diverse terroir,” said Laura Kittmer, communications director of WGBC.

Kelowna-based WGBC, which markets and advocates on behalf of the $2.8-billion industry, has 184 members. In a typical year, B.C. wineries draw a million visitors and generate $600 million in economic activity from tourism and related employment.