Winery takes home medals

Northern Lights Estate Winery took gold, silver and bronze as B.C. dominated the fruit wine sector of the All Canadian Wine Championships.

From the 46 medals offered in the fruit wine category, 23 were awarded to British Columbia wineries with Ontario coming in second with 10 medals.

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The local winery that celebrated its three year anniversary June 26, took a gold medal in Tree Fruit Off Dry, silver in Soft Fruit Dry and bronze in Tree Fruit Dry.

Tree fruit off dry means the wine is not as dry as the tree fruit dry, explained Pat Bell, who along with wife Brenda, founded Family Fast Foods Ltd., which includes Northern Lights Estate Winery.

The best fruit wine designation in Canada was awarded to Abbotsford's Maan Farms Estate Winery for their Raspberry Dessert wine.

The competition sees all participants ship their wines to Toronto for judging.

Bell said he got an email that shared the good news of their earning three medals and the actual medals are shipped to them later.

"This is the second year that we've entered this competition," Bell added. They were awarded two golds for their fruit wines last year.

Once a wine has earned a medal designation, there is an option to get stickers to put on the labels of those wines.

"I think when you're marketing to restaurants, and in particularly in Prince George we've had great success because people try us, they know us, they've read about us, so it's easy to sell in Prince George," Bell said.

"But we're also selling in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vancouver, and Victoria, Nanaimo and Campbell River and so on, and in those communities when you go in and say 'this is our gold medal winner', that really resonates with people."

At this stage, Bell said he's wondering how big Northern Lights Estate Winery can be and getting feedback that they're wines are enjoyed all over the province is a good indicator of potential growth.

"When we win awards like this, it really helps to promote our wines in other parts of B.C.," he added.

"It was a real honour for us to win three medals but it was even more exciting to see 23 medals win across British Columbia."

New Wave Wine Society was formed a couple of months ago to represent the fruit and mead wine sectors.

"The goal for this new society is to start representing all fruit wineries in B.C. and try and elevate people's awareness of fruit wine," Bell said, who is the board chair of the new society. There are about 30 fruit wineries in the province that produce either fruit wine or mead that is made from honey and 18 of those wineries are members so far, he added.

"We called it the new wave because fruit wine is a whole new wave of wines that's taking over," Bell said.

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