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The Wineries of British Columbia (April 7, 2005)

book review
by Dean Tudor

The Wineries of British Columbia, rev. and updated edition (Whitecap, 2004, 375 pages, ISBN 1-55285-603-8, $22.95 paper covers) is by John Schreiner, a longtime BC wine writer. It first appeared in 1994, a decade ago. Then, it covered 40 wineries (2 of which never opened). Today, it covers 126 wineries (grape, apple, other fruit, and honey), with an indication of more in development.

Schreiner speculates on what shaped the industry. He alludes to the Vancouver Playhouse festival, and then goes on to correctly identify the real shaper: the threat of competition from our free trade agreement with the US, which diminished our government-regulated preferred status. The same thing happened with the Ontario wine industry.

Apart from a short history of BC wines in general, this book is a directory account of the wineries of BC. Each winery is alphabetically arranged, from Adora Estate through Winchester Cellars. The directory component gives addresses, contact data, hours and tours information. The text, mainly based on researched interviews with owners and winemakers, notes awards and recommended wines. While he has three types of recommendations (wine for special occasions, memorable wine to share with good friends, and well-made wine), he has no real tasting notes. Most of the TNs come out of the interviews with the biased winemaker or owner. Nevertheless, there is much good descriptive material about the wineries. There is a separate chapter at the end for eight new or pending wineries; this is a great idea to keep the book up-to-date as of publication. Note that many of these wines are not available in most of Canada.

This book is a major contribution to Canadian wine knowledge.

Audience and level of use: dedicated wine lovers, wine schools.

Some interesting or unusual facts: In 1978, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival began as a showcase for California wine, and then expanded to domestic and other imported wines, elevating the profile of the domestic wine industry in BC to a higher level of recognition.

What I don't like about this book: only 81 wineries are on the map inside the front cover – where are the other forty five or so? The table of grape varieties on page 11 has no heading; you'll have to read about it within the text on page 12. Also, it is just a list with no figures.

What I do like about this book: short introduction, more space for the winery listings.

Quality/Price Ratio: 96.

 

 

 

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