British Columbia wines have an Olympic-sized opportunity next month to impress the world and it couldn't come at a better time.
The bloom is off expensive wine and premium local wine fits that profile. You don't get much for less than $20 these days in B.C., which is a real problem for producers given that consumers don't want to spend more than $20 a bottle on any wine.
Not much can be done about the pricing. High land costs, higher labour costs and small wineries point to a niche industry. What we have to do is convince the world our wines are worth the money and that's where the Olympics come in.
The largest contingent of media ever to assemble in British Columbia will be eating and drinking all over the Lower Mainland, making the impossible - getting one's wine in front of the gatekeepers - about as easy as it gets. Add in all the tourists who will be exploring local food and local wine daily, and it may be just the kick-start local producers need to start exporting wine to the rest of the world.
I know wineries are working hard to make sure they have plenty of products in the Lower Mainland to react to any increased demand. Vincor is the official Olympic supplier, so within the confines of Olympic events Jackson-Triggs, Sumac Ridge, See You Later Ranch, Nk'Mip and Inniskillin Okanagan will be front and centre.
But outside official events, the field is wide open. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for B.C. to show off its best, and like our athletes the only question left is: Are we ready?
The game plan should be simple. Show off the very best, whether you are serving them in restaurants, or at home. The trends at the recent 2009 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards point to fresh, lively whites and balanced, blended reds.
Here are some ideas that should prepare you for the big moment should you find yourself needing to show off the home team next month.
The strength of B.C. wine is our cool climate - it's what makes our riesling, sémillon, gewürztraminer, viognier, siegerrebe, pinot blanc, chenin blanc, un-oaked chardonnay and even trebbiano soar in the glass.
The combination of bright, aromatic and clean fruit can inspire thoughts of New Zealand and Germany, but it is all Okanagan Valley. And when combined with Thai or Indian or Chinese food most B.C. wines rise to an even higher ground.
Among my current favourite are the delicious, vibrant crisp tasty flavours of the Lake Breeze 2008 Semillon $19, Thornhaven 2008 Gewurztraminer $18, Pentâge 2008 Gewurztraminer $18, Hester Creek Trebbiano 2008 Trebbiano $19, Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc 2008 and CedarCreek Riesling 2008 $18.