Who's drinking what where

Drinkers in the Okanagan embrace the region's wine country reputation, sales data from the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch shows.

While Budweiser is by far the go-to beverage in the province, wine reigned supreme in the Central Okanagan Regional District and Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District.

The rankings are based on B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale division sales, so the data includes alcohol sold to private liquor stores as well as from B.C. Liquor Stores.

In the Central Okanagan, Gray Monk’s 2014 Pinot Gris was the top seller from the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch in total sales. Bottles of 1.75 litre and 1.14 litre Smirnoff Red Label vodka took the second and third spots, followed by Quails’ Gate’s Chasselas, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris blend and Summerhill’s Ehrenfelser.

While 15, 12, 24 and 30 packs of Budweiser took the top four spots overall in B.C., the Central Okanagan appears to have more grapey sensibilities, with six different wines placing higher than the 10th place 24 pack of Bud in the region.

It was all wine farther south in the Okanagan Similkameen as well. Black Hills’ Nota Bene, a Bordeaux-style blend from Oliver, took the top spot in sales, followed by a Jackson Triggs Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Naked Grape’s Pinot Grigio took the fourth and fifth place with its 750 ml and 1.5 litre bottles.

Wine made up 25 of the top 30 sellers in the Okanagan Similkameen, with various Growers ciders filling in the other five spots.

Not only did Budweiser not make the top 30 in the region, beer didn’t make the list at all.

As shown by the popularity of local wines in the Okanagan, the data shows B.C. drinkers like their drinks coming from close to home, regardless of the region.

Local après-ski beers at the pub appear to be the top choice in the Columbia-Shuswap, with 60-litre kegs of the Revelstoke-brewed Mt. Begbie High Country Kolsch taking the No. 1 spot.

On the Sunshine Coast, Persephone Golden Goddess Ale, brewed in Gibsons, took top place, while Townsite’s Zunga Golden Blonde Ale, brewed in Powell River, took the top spot in that city.

Craft beers have seen an explosion of popularity during the past year.

“Between April 1 and Sept. 1, 2015, craft beer sales at BC Liquor Stores increased by more than 50 per cent compared with the same time period last year,” said April Kemick, spokesperson for the LDB.

Drinkers in the Thompson-Nicola and North Okanagan regional districts appear less concerned with local options. Varying sizes of Budweiser and Smirnoff vodka took the top seven spots in the Thompson-Nicola and the top four spots in the North Okanagan.

The classic, large-scale beers also dominated greater Vancouver. Varying sized packs of Bud took six of the top 10 spots, along with Molson Canadian, Miller Genuine Draft and Corona.

Kemick said the data also shows interesting, but not unexpected, trends in when people buy what.

“Customers buy three times as much liquor and almost twice as much wine and spirits during the winter months, while refreshment beverages, ciders and beer sales skyrocket in the summer months,” Kemick said. 

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