A recap of some sparkling moments in Kelowna Wine Country in 2013. Photo of diners at Summerhill’s Sunset Organic Bistro, taken by Kevin Trowbridge.

There’s much to raise a glass to, looking back at 2013, in Kelowna Wine Country. The year unfolded in a succession of international awards brought home by Kelowna wineries (we’ll get to that in a minute), glowing travel articles about why wine lovers should hurry up and get here, national television coverage on the record-smashing premiere episode of The Amazing Race Canada showcasing one of our own, and countless positive product reviews from wine critics, bloggers, and writers. Each of these endorsements broadens and strengthens public awareness of what we have to offer. Consider that National Geographic, upon launching a contest called Canada’s Places of A Lifetime and receiving hundreds of entries from worthy destinations across Canada, picked Kelowna’s entry to showcase along with 9 others because the editors felt that these 10 deserved special mention (and a visit). It was Communications Coordinator Jenny Rutherfurd who sent in the Kelowna entry that the editors at National Geographic so identified with.

Jenny pointed to international awards as evidence of the quality of Kelowna’s wine scene. Just to name a few of the awards garnered by our wineries (and yes, we know we are not providing a comprehensive list, so please forgive us if we’ve missed you and feel free to add yours to the comment section below), here are a handful of them, starting with the most recently awarded.

Just announced this week, a small Kelowna winery has won big-time at the 2014 World Beverage Competition. Kudos to Vibrant Vine who won Best White Wine In Show, Platinum, for their OOPS 2012 wine in a double-blind tasting and Bronze for their 2012 Gewurztraminer, as well as the Bronze medal for their Gewurztraminer label. The World Beverage Competition boasts more than 10,000 entrants and has been organized by the World Trade Organization since 1991.The Vibrant Vine is the first Canadian winery to win a Platinum medal at the World Wines Competition. Runners up in the white wine category included wines from Argentina and France. A small winery with a big win!

In October 2013, winning ‘World’s Best Pinot Noir’ in the under £15 category at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London, England, Mission Hill Family Estate brought home a coveted International Trophy for their 2011 Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir. The International Trophy is a top award for the competition, the first time a single wine variety (red or white) from any region in the world has won both a Regional Trophy for ‘Best Wine’ and an International Trophy for ‘World’s Best Wine’ in this prestigious competition.

The exacting Chardonnay Du Monde competition awarded Sandhill Wines 2 medals: Gold for their 2011 Small Lots Chardonnay and Silver for their 2011 Sandhill Chardonnay – another major feather in the cap of winemaker Howard Soon. Their sister brand, Calona Vineyards, also took home a Silver medal for their 2011 Artist Series Unoaked Chardonnay.  Quails’ Gate Estate Winery also brought home Gold from this competition for their 2010 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay and a Silver for their 2011 Quails’ Gate Chardonnay.

Now over to a competition considered to be a “holy Grail” of sparkling wine: the Effervescents du Monde, held in mid-November in Dijon, France.  Of 600 wines sampled, representing almost 30 countries, the Cipes Rosé sparkling wine from  Summerhill Pyramid Winery won a Gold medal and was identified among the Top 10 Best Sparkling Wines in the World.

Congratulations to all on these amazing awards! Between the industry accolades and the first-hand experiences of wine and travel writers, we have generated a great deal of momentum and excitement for our area. Publications like Wine Enthusiast, enRoute Magazine, Chatelaine Magazine, and several others have been digging Kelowna’s wine country charms. The tipping point is upon us as we enter 2014.