A sip of Vancouver icewine

British Columbia has a delectable little secret - icewine, which is made by allowing grapes to freeze on the vine, then pressing them while they're still frozen.

The local wine makers have this very special wine mastered; it's an elegant match for dishes that are salty or sweet.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Okanagan Valley, Vancouver, Canada.

A chilled treat

The icewine fermenting process is both unorthodox and intriguing. It involves leaving the grapes to the mercy of the bitter cold winter until the thermometer hits -10˚C and the grapes are frozen solid. Then they're crushed, still frozen, with most of the water left behind. What you have left over is a small amount of concentrated juice that produces a flavour akin to a dessert or sticky wine.

Due to the low yields that result from this unusual process, icewine is not produced in large volumes. Maybe that's why it's served in such tiny glasses!

You can sniff, sip and swirl your way through the British Columbia wine regions, assisted by in-house experts.

Elevate your icewine experience with the perfect food pairing - strawberries and cream, blue cheese, a pear tart or chocolate biscuits. Anything salty or sweet should do the trick nicely. Some people sip it super-cold with Thai curry.

Mission Hill Family Estate, Okanagan Valley, Vancouver, Canada.

Visiting British Columbia vineyards

If sweet wines aren't your cup of tea, a visit to the Okanagan Valley may be in order. While it's a five-hour drive from Vancouver, this wine region deserves your attention. The valley stretches for more than 250 kilometres across a number of distinct sub-regions and there are more than 170 licensed wineries. Top varietals include chardonnay, pinot gris, cab sav and merlot. Pinot noir is also planted here, because the continental climate suits it right down to the ground.

For a cellar door experience that's an easy day trip from Vancouver, consider the Langley wine region, which turns out a sensational siegerrebe and a beautiful bacchus - uncommon white wines that enjoy the local conditions. Or you can venture just a little further out to find the Similkameen Valleys, a fascinating desert-like environment with gold mining history.

Wine tasting at Mission Hill Family Estate, Okanagan Valley, Vancouver, Canada.

Wine tasting in the city

You don't have to leave the city to discover the wines of British Columbia. A number of restaurants and bars staunchly support local wine makers. You can sniff, sip and swirl your way through the BC wine regions, assisted by in-house experts. Salt Tasting Room offers an award-winning experience that beautifully matches artisan cheese and cured meats to phenomenal BC wines.

If you're really serious about Canadian wine discovery, check out the critically-acclaimed Vancouver International Wine Festival in mid-February each year. Activities include wine tastings, pairings, gourmet dinners and luncheons, educational seminars and culinary competitions. With more than 670 wineries, Canada is consistently producing award-winning cool climate table wines, sparkling wine and icewine each year

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