Could the Golden Mile sub-appellation be in place in time for the 2011 harvest?

Winemaker Bill Eggert from Fairview Cellars Winery in the (potential) Golden Mile sub-appellation – photo by Tim Pawsey

As it turned, the answer was “no.” But it turned out to be only a matter of time before Golden Mile Bench was agreed.


As John Schreiner notes on his highly informative blog, there’s some talk these days about setting up BC sub-appellations.

BC has five well-defined appellations or regions: Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and Gulf Islands. As the industry matures, and particular areas within these regions find out what grape varieties and styles work best, wineries will move to define more specific areas—known as sub-appellations—and reflect the origin on the label.

In general, BC has moved more cautiously than Ontario, which already has established several sub-appellations.

Already identified in the Okanagan are a number of fairly obvious emerging candidates for sub-appellation status, based on differing soil structures and growing conditions.

Our recent chats with winemakers on the South Okanagan’s west side benches (long known colloquially as Oliver’s Golden Mile) suggest there’s certainly interest in moving ahead to define the Golden Mile based on its unique terroir.

(The Golden Mile nickname actually originated not from grapes but from the ability to ripen canteloupe, at a time when Oliver was known also as ‘The Canteloupe Capital of Canada’)

It’s unlikely, however, that these wineries (at least a couple of whom also have plantings on Black Sage Road) would move ahead without the subject of a Black Sage appellation being also addressed.

In the background is another discussion regarding a Naramata Bench appellation. That becomes a little more complicated, given the considerable success of the Naramata Bench commercial brand, which is based not on grape origin but where the wine is made.

Currently, a portion of the grapes for wines produced on the Naramata bench are grown in vineyards ‘down south’ and elsewhere.

In the past there’s been some resistance to defining sub-appellations (particularly from some larger producers) but it seems the momentum definitely exists now to move ahead.

At the end of the day, from the consumer’s point of view, the more pertinent the information on the label, the better. It also makes sense from the grower’s perspective, as pockets become more definable.

Could the Golden Mile sub-appellation be in place in time for the 2011 harvest?

If so, it would certainly raise the likelihood of other sub-appellations being sought.

And in short order.