Lieutenant-Governor’s Awards 2013: British Columbia and Ontario

Last month competitions for Lieutenant-Governor’s Awards of Excellence in Wine were separately staged in B.C. and Ontario. Below, WineAlign presents the winners in both provinces, with links to reviews by Treve Ring in B.C. and David Lawrason in Ontario, who each sat on a panel of judges in their respective provinces. The winning wines will be served at Lieutenant-Governor’s events for the next year, and will be bestowed as state gifts.

Lieutenant-Governors, for those who don’t follow the workings of provincial politics closely, are the provincial equivalent of Canada’s Governor-General. They are the official representatives of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and are responsible for giving royal assent to provincial legislation.

The B.C. Lieutenant-Governor’s Awards
by Treve Ring, Victoria

Treve Ring

Treve Ring

In 2002, B.C.’s then-Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo wanted to begin an awards program to recognize our province’s budding wine industry. To be eligible for the competition, wines must be made from grapes 100 % grown and processed within British Columbia. Now back then there were 87 grape wineries in operation in B.C., and the panel of wine judges was beckoned to the Okanagan to taste the wines firsthand in the valley. The inaugural panel (most of which are still judges today) decided on a dozen or so wines that were worthy of the honour of a Lieutenant Governor Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines.

This past June, 11 years into the competition, the judges met at Victoria’s stately and historic Government House to taste and blindly evaluate submissions. Now, however, there are over 400 entries and 217 licensed grape wineries in B.C. The judging panel, of which I am a member, still whittled the entries down to the top 12, unfettered by categories like region (BC has 5 designated viticultural areas) or grapes (over 80 are commercially grown in the province) or price (winning wines ranged from $15-$55).

Lieutenant Governor of BCCertainly there is a mark of distinction in being awarded one of the few LG Wine Awards annually, but possibly the greatest thrill comes later this month, when B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Judith Guichon, visits each of the wineries in person, along with a full Consular Corps busload. Ceremonies and festivities are repeated nearly a dozen times (Red Rooster Winery won two awards this year = one stop for the bus). This year all the winning wineries were located in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, though entries flooded in from all the designated wine regions, and emerging regions beyond.

The Lieutenant Governor will visit the winning wineries from July 24-26 to present the awards. All BC wineries are invited to submit their wines for judging, sans entry fee, in the aim of making the awards accessible to all.

Here are British Columbia’s 2013 Winners:

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010

Calona Vineyards Artist Series Pinot Noir 2011

Church & State Wines Coyote Bowl Syrah 2010

Eau Vivre Winery Pinot Noir 2010

Hester Creek Estate Winery Block 3 Reserve Cabernet Franc 2010

Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards Winery Riesling Icewine 2011

Red Rooster Winery Reserve Viognier 2012

Red Rooster Winery Reserve Syrah 2010

Stag’s Hollow Winery Cachet No. 03 Limited Edition 2010

Stoneboat Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010

Synchromesh Wines Storm Haven Vineyard Riesling 2011

Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery Mystic River Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2012

The Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Awards

by David Lawrason, Toronto

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

In 2011, the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, The Honourable David Onley, adopted and adapted the British Columbia Awards of Excellence program for the province of Ontario. At first the whole exercise seemed to be rather too ceremonial, at least to me, and perhaps not that relevant to consumers. Until I learned that the judges – including some of the leading palates in the province – were charged with blind tasting through 100s of wines to select only 12 that would receive an LG Award! This was a true horse race.

Since their inception the Ontario Lieutenant-Governor’s Awards have been organized by and staged at Niagara College, a community college with full-time winemaking and wine business management programs. It is also home to the Canadian Food and Wine Institute. Each year the Niagara College staff have become more adept and rigorous in the proceedings, with special acknowledgement this year to Barbara Leslie and Jennifer Wilhelm for their diligence.

Four panels of three or four judges tasted through all the wines (225) the first day and put forward about 25% to be considered in a final round the second day. From this group the judges – tasting as one panel – selected 12 wines for an Award of Excellence in Ontario Wine.

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines​The winners were announced July 11 at a reception and tasting in the Lieutenant-Governor’s suite at Queen’s Park in Toronto. This followed a day trip by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley and an entourage to Prince Edward County where they visited two of this year’s winning wineries: Huff Estate and Exultet. Guests on the bus included an international consular corps representing 15 countries, from Afghanistan to Panama, to China,to the UK and the USA. The Muslim Afghan member did not partake in tastings, but we trust he fell in love with PEC anyway.

Here are Ontario’s 2013 winners:

Exultet Estates ‘The Blessed’ Chardonnay 2011

Henry Of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Riesling 2008

Huff Estate Cuvée Peter F. Huff Sparkling 2007

Konzelmann Vidal Icewine 2010

Malivoire Stouck Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Peller Estates Riesling Icewine 2008

Rosewood Merlot Reserve 2010

Southbrook Whimsy! Cabernet Franc “201” 2010

Stratus Chardonnay 2010

Stratus Syrah 2010

Tawse Carly’s Block Riesling 2010

Tawse Meritage 2010

We invite our Premium Subscription members to use these links for immediate access to Treve’s and David’s reviews of these award winning wines. Paid membership to WineAlign has its privileges – this is one of them. Enjoy!