November 7, 2017 7:32 pm
Updated: November 8, 2017 12:00 am

Top sommeliers from around the world descend on Okanagan Valley


The best and brightest wine sommeliers from around the world are descending on the Okanagan Valley this week for the first annual BC wine boot camp.

“We’ve gathered 30 professionals from western Canada, from the U.S., from the U.K., from China, just to reintroduce these wines to the world,” said organizer and master sommelier John Szabo.

The four-day event includes educational master classes, regional tastings and panel discussions.

Tuesday a blind tasting tested the skills of the sommeliers to determine if they could tell the different between BC VQA wine and international competitors.

“Occasionally they can for sure, but they often can’t because we have in the wines certain characteristics that might be more like say a chardonnay from Burgundy,” said Master of Wine Rhys Pender.

The Cawston-based winery owner and educator is leading the classes. He is the youngest Canadian to become a Master of Wine which is the highest qualification you can receive in the wine industry.

There are fewer than 400 in the world.

“We drink most of our wine locally in B.C., which is great, but we also want to be known for the quality of wine that we produce,” he said on Tuesday.

For some attendees it’s their first visit to Western Canada and their first time tasting Okanagan wine.

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“A lot of different styles, a very versatile region, I found it really exciting and a region to watch the next few years for sure,” said Hungarian-born Hong Kong based sommelier Szabolcs Menesi.

“We’ve seen the depth and consistency in the wine-making here so what I’m really taking away is obviously it’s not a massive wine making region but there is a really big focus on quality,” added Jonathan Kleeman, a sommelier from London, England.

The international exposure could mean greater access to Okanagan wine overseas.

“I’m very excited to go back to Hong Kong and work on getting some of them on my wine list,” Menesi said.

WATCH: John Peller talks future of Okanagan wine industry 


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