BC WINE – Are We There Yet?

Posted by John Clerides on May 01, 2018

I get asked this all the time, "are BC wines as good as those from other parts of the world?"

We never know how good we really are until we compare ourselves to others or retell stories around the dinner table or soccer field.

Today, many of the people who shape the wine world were born well after this decidedly Canadian story.

In the fall of 1972, there was an eight game hockey series called The Summit Series; Canada's best versus the best of the Soviets. The Cold War was in full swing, communication rudimentary at best, and anything from Russia was considered "bad."

We knew very little about them but according to all of the hockey writers, mostly Canadian, we were going to obliterate them. If the Soviets win a game, it's because we forgot to put a goalie in net.

Game one in Montreal, Ken Dryden in goal, Canada was humiliated 7-3. These Russians, with worn out skates, crappy sticks, skated circles around Canada's best, made us look like lumbering fools, and danced around us. By the skin of our teeth Canada ended up winning the series with 4 wins, 3 loses and 1 tie. Boy, did we learn.

We were no longer the best in the world, these no-names almost beat us; we had to compare ourselves with the best in the world and not with ourselves. Look at the NHL today, fast, skilled, well trained and superbly conditioned.

I spoke with Alex Gambal, an American who left Boston and studied wine in Burgundy. Yup, another American in France to learn how to make wine. He studied in Beaune like all the Americans do.

As told to me by Alex, the French started to take him more seriously when he moved his family to Beaune. Alex learned more about wine on the soccer field than he did in school.

Lorraine Senard has taken over full winemaking responsibilities and Domaine Comte Senard. Philippe told me that his daughter is a far better winemaker than he ever was. He is just hanging around for historical knowledge. He is there just to tell her what it was like in the 60’s, 70’ and 80’s, just like his father before him.

Benchmarking ourselves against the very best and re-telling stories told around a dinner table or soccer field is priceless - we are just starting our conversations here in BC.