B.C. Lieutenant Governor Steven Point brought a bus with consul members from across the globe to Mt. Lehman Winery on Friday evening, and an award of excellence for the local winemaker.
It was a proud moment for Vern Siemens, who hosted 175 people for an outdoor wine tasting with appetizers. His boutique winery is just two years old, but his love of the craft goes back to his childhood growing up on a Townline Road farm, where he made his own dandelion and raspberry wine.
“I’ve been making wine all my life,” he notes.
Siemens has travelled to all the major wine regions in the world, including France, Chile, Australia and others.
“I like walking the vineyards and talking to people, and I love tasting wine,” he said.
In 1991, he planted a three-acre vineyard, with 50 varieties of grapes. That has grown to 16 acres.
Point noted there were 309 entries in his competition this year, and 11 winners were selected for awards. The awards program recognizes and honours excellence in wines made from 100 per cent grapes, grown and processed within the province. Ten winners were from the Okanagan, which is has become an established wine region, and the Mt. Lehman Winery was the one exception.
Most nations have their ambassadors in Ottawa, with consulate members in major cities. There were 18 different countries represented on the tour.
What did they think of B.C.’s best wine?
“They filled up the bus,” answered Point. “There’s no more room.”
Point said that in the past, the wineries which won a governor general’s award have enjoyed an instant boost in sales.
“It’s good for the businesses, and it’s good for the industry,” he said.
Past winners include Sandhill Wines, Grey Monk Estate Vineyards, Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards and Sumac Ridge Estate Winery.
Siemens won for a 2010 Viognier Reserve.
He had two other finalists in the competition: The 2009 Merlot Reserve Platinum Label and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Platinum Label.
Each winery is allowed only four entries, and Siemens had three that “floated to the top,” in the words of Point.
The winning entries are served at Government House for the year, and are entitled to use the Lieutenant Governor’s Award logo.