Wine Culture Magazine

After a summer in Kelowna and a trip to Champagne in the fall, Good Wine Gal offers advice for bubble lovers.

The view from Champagne DeVenoge in Epernay looking across to Haut Villiers. Barb Wild photo

How does traditional method sparkling wine from B.C. stand up to Champagne? Nicely!

Holiday season is here. Menus and shopping lists are top of mind. Rising costs and tighter budgets are turning champagne dreams into nightmares. But don’t fret. Did you know that British Columbia’s wine country has a growing number of sparkling winemakers? With over 40 wineries making “Champagne method” better known as “traditional method” sparkling wine, B.C. wine lovers have amazing options to rival fancy France on both price and taste.

Champagne is famous. Stepping into the caves of Taittinger carved out by the Romans in 347 AD in the centre of the Champagne region in the city of Reims, it’s clear that history is imbued in the prestige culture here in Champagne. The rolling hills and well-draining, limestone soils make this cool and wet region unique. Spraying vineyards to combat mildew and disease is traditional. Variable winter freeze and late spring hail and frost challenge this luxury wine region every year. It wasn’t until the bottle strength was perfected in the 1930s that champagne flourished. In 1936 Champagne became a recognized appellation. Today Champagne produces 300 thousand bottles a year, and is protected in 121 countries around the world. Prices range from hundreds to thousands of dollars a bottle.

Blue Mountain Vineyards in Okanagan Falls. Barb Wild photo

B.C.’s wine country is barely 50 years old. It’s under the radar and not well-known. The Okanagan Valley is a 200 kilometre valley with diverse terroir and micro climates. With no specific appellation dedicated to sparkling wine production, there is limited specificity. The extreme limits of where vines can grow successfully at the 50th parallel is not unlike Champagne. Continental climate brings extreme heat and cold, soils are mostly glacial till with some outcroppings of limestone, clay and marl. The lake moderates temperatures in the valley with annual sunshine hours in Kelowna at 2000 hours—350 more than Champagne. Viticulture leans towards sustainable, dry farming, organic and biodynamic viticulture. At 50 years young, B.C.’s bubble future is bright. 

Like Champagne, B.C. wineries use Brut Cuvée, Blanc de Blanc (white grapes), Blanc de Noir (red grapes) or Rose (both) on the label. Champagne and B.C. consider “vintage” the finest, although Champagne has very strict regulations where B.C. has few. Vintage Champagne requires grapes from the same harvest, from the best vineyards and time in bottle for a minimum of three years. Producers in both regions often leave bottles longer allowing the finest bubbles to evolve along with classic aromas and flavours.

Here are three B.C. superstars making traditional method sparkling wine that can rival Champagne. Shop online or visit your favourite private wine store. Prices range from $45 to $100 dollars a bottle. You can’t go wrong. Plus #shoplocal.

Blue Mountain Brut Rose RD 2018 

Winery Price $40

Made from 70% Pinot Noir & 30% Chardonnay disgorged August 2021 

This dry and racy style sings of strawberry tarts. It’s balanced and racy with fine bubbles that offer joy and richness to the end.


Blue Mountain Blanc de Blanc 2013 

Winery Price $45

Made from 100% Chardonnay disgorged 2021. With almost eight years on its lees, this style speaks to the precise elegance that chardonnay brings. Dry, crisp and fresh with searing flavours of dried lemons and limes, toasted hazelnuts and almonds that linger to the end.

Blue Mountain Estate Vineyard and Cellars is an Okanagan Falls-based, Mavety family-run winery and home to some of the finest traditional method sparkling wine in the province. Their reputation accolades have been accumulating since 1992. 


Sperling Vineyards 2011 Brut Reserve 

Winery Price $95 

Made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay with 60 months on lees and another 5 years of bottle age this is vibrant, dry and racy. The fine bubbles persist and carry the aromas and flavours of dried apple, lemon meringue, and ginger to the finish. Only 1.9 grams of residual sugar makes this mouth watering style extra-brut in my books.

Sperling Vineyards may produce the oldest, driest and finest of bubbles from the heart of the Okanagan Valley. Winemaker Ann Sperling practices limited intervention, farms organically certified vineyards where biodynamic practices are used supporting regenerative agriculture. Rumor has it that Sperling Vineyards is now part of the Mission Hill Family of Iconic Wineries.


Summerhill “Pyramid” Winery – Cipes Traditional Brut Cuvee Vintage 2004 

Winery Price $85 

Made from 87% Organic Chardonnay and 13% Organic Pinot Noir, It is dry, with complex aromas and flavours of dried yellow apple skins on lime toast, ginger root and roasted nuts. It’s creamy and rich over persistent bubbles to the end. 

Located in southeast Kelowna, Summerhill put traditional method from BC on the map. It is also the first certified biodynamic winery, has a glass pyramid, and is home to sophisticated energetic bubbles. 

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