How to Read a BC VQA Wine Label

By , On , In Wine Education
Bottle of Heaven's Gate Winery's BC VQA Rose on the edge of a fountain.

If you step into any liquor store or dine in restaurants that serve BC wine, you have likely seen the term “BC VQA” on wine labels and on wine lists. BC VQA stands for the British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance. Established in 1990, the BC VQA is an independent board that monitors whether wines meet specific standards regarding their origin, vintage and varietals. 

When you buy a bottle of wine with BC VQA on the label, you are guaranteed that the wine was made with 100% grapes that were grown in BC. For a wine to be BC VQA certified and be permitted to display BC VQA on its label, it goes before a panel to ensure that it meets the BC VQA criteria. 

Growing Grapes for BC VQA Wines

The Okanagan Valley is home to 86% of the province’s vineyards and is typically the first region that comes to mind when BC wine is mentioned. However, there are also wine regions in the Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, Kootenays, Lillooet, Shuswap, Similkameen Valley, Thompson Valley and Vancouver Island. With 9 diverse wine regions across BC, winemakers are able to successfully grow a vast variety of grape varietals.

Different climates, weather, soil types and elevations can all impact how well a varietal thrives and it can also influence a grape’s flavour profile. Each varietal has its own set of conditions that it prefers, and some are more difficult to cultivate than others.

Buying BC VQA Wine 

How to Read a BC VQA Label

If you are looking to buy a BC VQA wine and you aren’t sure what to look for, you only need to know a few things. All BC VQA wine labels have 4 components to consider: 

  1. The name of the winery
  2. The vintage
  3. The name of the wine or varietal
  4. BC VQA assurance of quality and where the grapes were grown
Photo of Heaven's Gate Winery's 2018 Cloud Nine, a red blend, with text beside saying, How to Read a BC VQA Wine Label.
All of Heaven’s Gate Estate Wines are BC VQA certified.

Where to Buy

There are convenient options for buying BC VQA wines all over BC. From grocery stores to an online app, there is sure to be an option that’s right for you. Discover your next bottle of BC VQA wine at one of the following locations:

  • BC VQA Wineries – Buy directly from the source. This is typically where you will find the best prices on your favourite varietals and blends.
  • BC VQA Wine Stores – These stores have the widest selection. Find a store near you here.
  • BC Liquor Stores – There are over 200 locations for you to choose from. Visit the BCLS website for location and product information.
  • Private Liquor Stores – BC has over 600 private liquor stores. 
  • Restaurants – Watch for the BC VQA designation in the wine list the next time you are dining out.
  • Winery Direct App – If you can’t visit a winery or store and pick up the wines yourself, you can order from your favourite wineries and have the wine shipped directly to you. Download the app for iOS, Android or browse on the web, here.

About Heaven’s Gate Estate Winery

Nestled in Giant’s Head Mountain in beautiful Summerland, BC, sits Heaven’s Gate Estate Winery. What was once a flourishing peach orchard is now an established vineyard and winery that produces unique small batch 100% BC VQA wines. The land’s volcanic soils and the dry climate of the Okanagan provide a terroir that is distinct to the region. 

Wine Maker and owner, Tyson Felt invites you to come visit. Walk-ins are welcome. Try a tasting of your choice of any 5 wines from our list of 12 and xperience our collection of 100% BC VQA wines. All of our BC VQA small batch wines are available for purchase in our wine shop. Be sure to grab a few bottles or a case of your favourites.

Interested in learning more about our wines? Read our Guide to Wine and Food Pairing in the Okanagan or discover your favorite new wine pairing with our collection of Wine Pairings & Recipes