What's in the bottle?

You may be hearing the term “sub gi (gee eye, not guy or gee)” more often in the B.C. wine world.

But what is it, and what does it mean for the general wine drinker?

If you’re familiar with the term appellation, or sub-appellation, which is used south of the border, a sub gi will make sense to you; it’s as sub-geographical indicator.

As of this week, there are four in the province, as wineries on the Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench join Okanagan Falls and Golden Mile Bench in Oliver as sub gis.

To use these terms on a wine label, wineries must:

  • meet the requirements of the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation (VQA) program
  • at least 95% of the grapes in the bottle must come from the specific area indicated on the label

If a wine label says Golden Mile, the grapes had to have come from that area.

Note though, that geographical indicators on wine labels indicate the area where the grapes were sourced, and not the physical location of the winery.

For example, a winery in the Fraser Valley may have Okanagan Valley on a label if the grapes came from an Okanagan Valley vineyard.

There are nine geographical indicators in the province:

  • Fraser Valley
  • Gulf Islands
  • Kootenays
  • Lillooet,
  • Shuswap
  • Similkameen
  • Thompson
  • Vancouver Island,
  • Okanagan Valley

And with four sub gis in the Okanagan, the specific terroir-driven characteristics will become more familiar.

Prefer a pinot from the Naramata Bench over one from the Skaha Bench?

You’ll be able to make a more informed, or perhaps faster, choice at your local VQA proprietor. And perhaps you’ll soon be able to distinguish a chardonnay from Okanagan Falls versus one from the Golden Mile.

Ultimately, having these indicators is about a few different things.

First, the evolution and maturation of the wine industry, recognizing that our province doesn’t merely have one sense of place when it comes to wine, but distinguishable and unique regions.

Second, that there is a need for regulations and quality assurance to protect the developing brand of B.C. wine. Your neighbour can’t grow some grapes, make a home brew, and call it something it’s not.

And finally, reassurance to the wine consumer that what you’re buying is, in fact, what’s in the bottle, and you can confidently share a glass and brag about how fantastic our wine is, and why.


Through May, Okanagan Falls: Visit Liquidity Winery and Bistro to see the work of artist Tim Okamura.

May 18-19, Okanagan Falls: Enjoy an Albarino Comparison Tasting at Stag’s Hollow. Call 250-497-6162 to reserve your spot now.

May 19, West Kelowna: Mission Hill presents its Spring Farm-to-Table Market and Lunch; an al fresco lunch combined with an outdoor market with Unearthed Farms. 

May 24-26, Oliver-Osoyoos: While race registration is closed, the Half-Corked Marathon has several events and it’s fun to watch.

June 1, Oliver: Tinhorn Creek hosts its 25th Anniversary celebration with a five-course dinner.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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