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Northern Lights Estate Winery picks up Sommelier’s Choice awards in California

Doug Bell

British Columbia’s northernmost winery is making waves internationally.

Prince George’s Northern Lights Estate Winery picked up four awards at the Sommelier’s Choice awards held in San Francisco, California this past May. Each wine was scored based on five criteria: food parability, typicity, quality, value, and package with the final score being on a scale from 0-100. This year’s top entry, a 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from the USA, scored a near-perfect 97. The goal of the awards is to identify high-quality wines and help industry professionals and wine drinkers choose the best wines possible.

This was Northern Lights’ first year entering the competition and they did not come up empty-handed. The winery picked up a total of four awards, two silver, and two bronze. Among the wines awarded, the top-rated was the winery’s 2019 Heritage Haskap with an impressive 87 points and described by the judges as having: “Good candied fruit notes, strawberry jam all throughout the nose, with smooth tannins, great fruit presence, amazing finish.”

Sid Patel, CEO of event organizers Beverage Trade Network, pointed out the significance of having world-class sommeliers choose the wines they think customers will most enjoy drinking.

“The idea of the Sommeliers Choice Awards is to put the best judges forward to evaluate the best on-premise wines for the consumer,” he said. “We were very pleased with the quality of the wines we received in the 4th year of the competition.”

Although the majority of wines entered in this year’s awards were grape wines, fruit wines picked up a number of awards.

“Some people, and the wine industry really, still underestimate fruit wine,” said Northern Lights Owner, Doug Bell, “but wins like this go to show that quality fruit wines are out there and many are made right here in B.C.

Fellow BC fruit wine alumni Maan Farms made an appearance at this year’s Sommelier’s Choice Awards, with their top-performing strawberry rhubarb wine picking up a noteworthy 82 points.

This isn’t the first time Northern Lights has walked away from a competition with some hardware. Since 2017, the winery has picked up twenty medals from the All Canadian Wine Championships (ACWC), an annual competition open to wineries across Canada. In 2022, Northern Lights earned two double gold medals, one for their cranberry and apple wine, Pink Knight, and the other for their blueberry and haskap wine, Bell Family Reserve, as well as a bronze medal for Mirtillo.

The winery has entered the ACWC again this year and is hoping for big things.

“We’re hoping to recreate the magic from last year and I think we have some very strong contenders,” said Bell.

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