The Hired Belly has just finished participating in one of the more interesting competitions on the Canadian judging calendar.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines were introduced by former Lieutenant Governor the Honourable Iona Campagnolo in 2003.

Unquestinably, the stately setting contributes an added air of civility

The judging is different from many for a number of reasons, none the least of which is that it takes place amidst the quiet and stately splendour of British Columbia’s Government House, in Victoria—itself surrounded by equally stately and splendid gardens, largely maintained by the volunteers of the Friends of Government House Gardens Society.

However, what really sets these awards apart is the small number of wines that are ultimately recognised.  Nobody could ever accuse this competition of being a ‘medal-fest’, as only between eight to ten or so wines are singled out, from a field (this year) of some 280 entries. The tasting is conducted ‘blind’ with only varietal and vintage made known to the panel.

Lieutenant Governor's 2009 red wine award winners - Tim Pawsey photo

It’s always a challenging task to narrow such a field, but one made considerably easier by the expertise of the organisers, as well as by a healthy air of cooperation and drive for consensus from those on the judging panel. And who knows? Maybe the surroundings also serve to inject an air of civility not always seen in other competitions…

Lieutenant Governor's 2009 white wine award winners - Tim Pawsey photo

A highlight is the dinner hosted by the Honourable Steven L. Point and Her Honour, Mrs. Gwendolyn Point on the closing evening in the grand dining room.

This is the eighth year that the awards have been held. Each year they grow in stature, as more producers vie for the cachet of having their wine included among such a select group—and also for the possibility of it being served to visiting dignitaries, as truly emblematic of the quality of British Columbia’s wine industry.

This year’s winners will be announced towards the latter part of July, followed by a tour, when Their Honours will travel to present the awards at the respective wineries.

You can find more background on the awards, as well as a list of previous winners here