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Harald Thiel, owner of Hidden Bench Estate Winery, said one of his single-vineyard chardonnays received a best-in-show award from the respected Decanter World Wine Awards.Handout

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Two news releases from Canadian wineries caught my eye this week: a Canadian chardonnay brought home a best-in-show commendation from one of the world’s most important wine competitions, while two groundbreaking families that helped attract early interest to the Okanagan wine scene have joined forces.

Harald Thiel, owner of Hidden Bench Estate Winery and tireless cool-climate chardonnay advocate, wrote to announce that one of his single-vineyard chardonnays received a best-in-show award from the respected Decanter World Wine Awards, based in England. Thiel, who is one of the founders of the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration, started his winery in 2003 in Beamsville, Ont., with a focus on producing top-quality chardonnay, pinot noir and riesling from his family’s estate vineyards.

This year’s Decanter World Wine Awards evaluated more than 18,000 submissions from 56 countries. Its panel of 150 judges, which included 44 Masters of Wine and 11 Master Sommeliers, singled out 50 wines for Best in Show honours, including the Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay 2018.

Thiel says the award is a testament “to the commitment and passion of our vineyard and winery team – and to the success of chardonnay in Canadian vineyards, something that we’ve been championing for a long time.”

Hidden Bench’s Felseck chardonnay was produced from a 3.5-acre parcel of 30-year-old certified organic vines that yielded a total production of 3,500 bottles from the 2018 vintage. The award-winning wine is set for a September release.

According to the competition website, Canadian entries earned 280 awards, from lowest commended ranking to the highest best-in-show standing. Other notable results for Canadian producers were Platinum awards for Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2019, Wayne Gretzky Estates No. 99 Vidal Icewine 2019 and Peller Estates Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling 2019.

Meanwhile, two well-established British Columbia wine families are celebrating working together. The Wyse family, which has operated Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in Oliver since 1993, has purchased Wild Goose Vineyards, which was founded by the Kruger family in Okanagan Falls in 1984. Members of the Kruger family will continue to oversee vineyard and winemaking operations at Wild Goose.

Wild Goose’s aromatic white wines, particularly riesling, gewurztraminer and pinot blanc, consistently enjoy critical praise, while Burrowing Owl continues to demonstrate the southern Okanagan’s ability to produce rich, complex and age-worthy red wines, notably syrah, cabernet franc and merlot. “It’s really a perfect marriage for B.C. wine consumers,” says Burrowing Owl president Chris Wyse.

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