Vancouverites have had a growing love affair with wine for decades, fuelled by the ever-increasing quality of regionally produced tipples from the Okanagan, as well as a clutch of emerging wineries located on Vancouver Island and in the Fraser Valley.
While local liquor stores have worked hard to educate the locals about the great wines produced on their doorstep, events like the long-standing Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival have fostered a sophisticated palate among the city’s wine quaffers. But wine is not the only drink of choice in the Lower Mainland – there are several celebrated regional beer makers here as well as a growing interest in sake sampling.
B.C.’s Burgeoning Wines
The majority of the province’s 131 wineries and 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of wine country is located in the Okanagan Valley, a dry, near-desert region 400 kilometres (250 miles) inland from Vancouver. Initially focussing on Germanic-style wines, producers such as Quail’s Gate, Mission Hill and Sumac Ridge now focus their energies on popular whites like chardonnay and pinot gris as well as reds like merlot and pinot noir. Perhaps the region’s most famous libation is Icewine, a sweet dessert wine produced from grapes frozen on the vine. For more information on the region’s wine industry, visit the BC Wine Institute.
B.C. is one of North America’s leading craft brewing beer makers, with distinctive, lip-smacking beverages in production at small facilities across the province – many of these beers are available at bars throughout Vancouver. Next time you’re in a city pub, ask for a regional brew: you might find yourself enjoying a concoction from Crannog Ales, Nelson Brewing, Phillips Brewing or Storm Brewing. For a really local beer, try a Honey Lager or Maple Cream Ale from Granville Island Brewing. This Vancouver beer maker’s products are available on tap around the city – or you can head to its facility on Granville Island for a brewery tour. Several city bars also produce their own beer on site, including Steamworks and The Yaletown Brewing Company.
Where To Buy
The distribution and sale of alcohol, wine, beer and spirits in Vancouver is regulated by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, which sells to consumers through its own stores. There are also a few private wine and beer shops dotted around the city. The flagship store – one of the largest liquor outlets in Canada – is at 5555 Cambie Street, a 15-minute drive from the downtown core. It contains more than 3,000 different choices. For more information on what’s available and where to buy, visit the BC Liquor Stores website.