BC Wine


When I woke up this morning, it was to some fantastic news: my first article for Wine Enthusiast has been published! What a thrill to see my story on their home page:

My article on the left. Hey, there's Guy Fieri!

My article on the left. Hey, there's Guy Fieri!

When I started the WSET Diploma, it was my dream to become a wine writer, so you can probably imagine how exciting this is.

It's a story about buying our small organic vineyard in the Similkameen, and getting to know what's involved in fixing up some very overgrown vines. I hope you enjoy it, please do leave a comment on the Wine Enthusiast page.


Hopefully there are more stories to come!


Sandra Oldfield has a list of accomplishments a mile long. There's a new one to add, she's now officially one of Canada's Most Powerful Women.


Each year, 100 women are celebrated by the Women's Executive Network WXN. Sandra was selected in the 2016 Trailblazers & Trendsetters category.

I’m honoured to be recognized as a trailblazer and have the opportunity, as a female CEO in the wine industry, to act as a role model for younger generations and my peers. At Tinhorn Creek we strive to be at the forefront of the industry; pushing boundaries and setting trends to
promote Canadian wine.
— Sandra Oldfield

Here's a selection of Sandra's achievements, which demonstrate her leadership in the Canadian wine industry:

  • After studying winemaking at UC Davis, she moved to Canada, becoming one of the only women winemakers in the country when Tinhorn opened 20 years ago - she's now the CEO of Tinhorn Creek.
  • Created BC's first winery members club that shipped direct to consumer!

  • Sandra was instrumental in the delineation of BC's first wine sub-appellation: the Golden Mile Bench, on the former gold-mining hills west of Oliver. 

  • Sandra embraced controversy to make an important point for the Canadian wine industry. Should it be easier to ship a 12-gauge shotgun or a case of wine across provincial borders?  In 2012, she proved it was easier to order the gun. Canadians owe Sandra a debt of gratitude for her advocacy on the free trade of wine.
  • Speaking of advocacy, Sandra has also been a strong proponent for clearer labelling on Canadian wine that contains grapes or juice imported from other countries, the result of which is most often of inferior quality, and sold as 'cellared in Canada'. 

  • For the past 5 years, she's run #BCWinechat on Twitter each Wednesday evening, a go-to forum for BC wine lovers, winemakers, growers, and somms to discuss a variety of wine topics.
If you need help, ask for it. Face issues head on. If you don’t start long-term goals now, you’ll never realize them.
— Sage wine career advice from Sandra Oldfield

Congratulations Sandra on this well deserved recognition. 

Tinhorn Creek

This family-owned and sustainability focused winery is featured in my book Winetripping as a key stop in the Oliver area.

They've got spectacular views across the valley from their welcoming tasting room, plus a fantastic restaurant, Miradoro, and host many fun activities on site (concerts, yoga in the vines, access to hiking trails). The wines are made wholly from their own vineyards on the Golden Mile and Black Sage Benches. 2.5% of the winery's net income supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada. My favourite wines there are the Oldfield Series reds, make sure you give them a try.


537 Tinhorn Creek Road, Oliver BC

Open for tastings year round:

March 1st to October 31stfrom 10-6

November 1st to December 31st from 10-5

January 2nd to February 28th from 10-4


Images courtesy of Tinhorn Creek


Ivan Gonzalez of OkanaganWine.Club

Ivan Gonzalez of OkanaganWine.Club

Have you ever belonged to a wine club? It's a thrill that never fades, to get wine in the post, but sometimes that commitment can be pricy.

Is there an alternative? How about a wine club focused on local wine producers, with no membership dues or commitment to buy for members, that gives the wineries themselves a healthy profit. A win-win-win business model for the consumer, wine club, and winery. OWC have quickly amassed a solid following, with over 25,000 wine loving fans on their FB page.

Instead of collecting membership fees, they scout out and select a new winery for each offering of 6 bottles, allowing members the chance to opt-in to purchase. I love that they're exposing the wine loving public to some very delicious but under-the-radar wineries like C.C. Jentsch & Lunessence. The orders and payment are fulfilled by the winery, and members pay the winery price. Each shipment arrives with a nice write up about the winery and each of the bottles included.

Pricing is key: members aren't paying a mark-up from the price they'd pay by buying directly from the winery (most non-producer wine clubs operate on the mark-up margin plus the negotiated volume discount, whereas OWC operate on volume discount alone). 

When I heard about the cool things OkanaganWine.Club were up to, especially the promotion of niche BC wineries, I reached out to co-founder Ivan Gonzalez to chat about the club.

Q What drew you to starting OWC? How did you become interested in BC wine?

Many things drew me to start OWC. Personally the fact that I wanted to provide a service that would empower local wineries and help develop the local wine industry. 

During my college years I volunteered at the WestJet Wine Festival and realized that there was a huge demand for local wines. I later tasted some leftover wine from the event and was surprised by the quality.  

Q How did you develop your wine tasting skills?

WSET 1, plus I literally go out to the wineries and speak to winemakers, local somms, and chefs. Each one of them has taught me something. Last time I counted I had visited 90% of wineries in BC. The secret is to ask, listen and pay attention to what you are tasting. I also have mentors that introduce me to new wine. 

I'm really impressed with your commitment to visiting the wineries, it's something I'm very passionate about as well.

Q What are your customers’ favourite wines, are you seeing a trend towards any particular styles?

Tricky question. I do see trends but I immediately try to avoid falling into that. The idea of OkanaganWine.Club is to provide a platform where people can comfortably order wine that they have not tried, and discover. So if I see a trend, I try to bring a different style of wine to keep them on their toes. Saying that, the only trend I really have noticed are people tasting wine that they had no idea about or thought they wouldn't like and end up asking for cases.

Q What changes have you seen in BC wine over the past several years?

I must say I'm not a veteran in this industry but from the two years I have been involved, I've seen many changes. Wineries are discovering that there is an online market and people are realizing that BC's wine regions are producing some very high quality wines. 

Congratulations Ivan on your success, and I look forward to seeing which winery OWC will be featuring next!

To find out more, visit okanaganwine.club / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook


I’ve assembled a rafter* of four BC wines, all under $25, one each of sparkling, white, rosé, and red.

Perfect for pleasing a variety of palates on Thanksgiving!

The key to entertaining is to choose broadly appealing wines that will pair with a range of foods. Or, to break all the rules and just buy the wine you love to drink!


Okanagan Crush Pad Narrative XC Method NV $24

Flavours: XC are the Roman numerals for 90, which is how long this non-vintage wine rests on the lees (spent yeasts) to get a subtle creamy flavour. It's a blend of classic Champagne grapes: 60% Pinot & 40% Chard, done in a cost effective but delicious manner. Perfect for pairing with cheese and crackers, baked brie, even potato chips while you hang out in the kitchen.

Having something celebratory to welcome guests with is a classy touch. This bubbly will pair with salty snacks while the meal finishes cooking, and also makes the perfect host/hostess gift. 


Wild Goose 2015 Riesling $17

Flavours: mango, honey and pears, zingy refreshing acidity, it’s a Level 2 sweetness, so perfect for guests who love a more generously flavoured white. Punches above its price in flavour.

Not every white wine has to be dry, a Riesling with a touch of sweetness will stand up to richer Thanksgiving fare. A generous white, like the Wild Goose, will pair wild bolder styles of turkey (spicy rub, deep fried), sweet side dishes like roast yams, and even the pecan pie.


JoieFarm 2015 Rethink Pink Rosé $19

Flavours: bright with red cherry and berry notes, it’s just slightly off dry, a great match for stuffing with roast herbs, cranberry sauce, roast root veg/parsnips, and has a nice silky texture. 70/30 Pinot/Gamay. It’s versatile, and is juicy enough to keep everyone smiling. 

Rosé is a winning match with turkey, especially those made in a savoury French style (this one's inspired by the Anjou rosés of the Loire Valley). The JoieFarm would pair wonderfully with cranberry sauce.


Robin Ridge 2013 Gamay $23

Flavours: A winning red should have smooth light tannins to please fans of soft reds, but enough flavour to keep bolder red-lovers happy. A ripe style of Gamay from a sunny heat trap like Keremeos in the Similkameen Valley will be a winner with all, and won’t overwhelm the food like some heavier grapes may, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s a nice spice on the palate, brambly fruit, raspberry, and peppery dried wild herbs. It’s lively but concentrated.

*I learned today that a group of turkeys is called a 'rafter' and not a flock!