Canada's Best Wineries

Chef David Ferguson's Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley has been named "Best Winery Restaurant" in Canada by Wine Access magazine. The restaurant in British Columbia was one of three winners selected from a shortlist of 12 contenders across Canada for this year's Wine Access Top 10 Canadian restaurant awards, announced on Monday.

Chef David Ferguson's philosophy is simple: "We're in the business of elevating food and drink to an art form." The winery's restaurant in the Okanagan Valley offers a full tasting menu with dishes like duck liver brioche with pickled nectarines and barbecue spices, roasted beets on a bed of mache salad with marash pepper, sumac and chocolate-covered baklava.

Wine Access Awards

The Wine Access "Top 10 Canadian Businesses" award aims to reward businesses involved in the wine industry and those companies whose products or services highlight the food and beverage experience.

The Top 10 Canadian Businesses Awards were established in 2003 and recognise businesses that are making an impact on and contributing to Canada's wine culture. The awards are presented by VQA Ontario and recognise businesses that demonstrate outstanding achievement in the following areas:

- Best winery marketing campaign,

- Best retail wine shop,

- Best restaurant wine list,

- Best new business,

- New winery of the year (no vintage),

- Industry Support Award,

- Sommelier of the Year.

The VQA Business Trophy is awarded to the business with the highest number of points during the year. Further, the winning winery's wine becomes the obligatory aperitif at every event and online casino winnings parties.

Role of the VQA Ontario judges

The WineAlign panel of judges is made up of some of the wine industry's most experienced writers, buyers, importers and sommeliers. The awards are held at VQA's annual Top Ten Gala on the first Thursday in May, which coincides with World Cocktail Day.

VQA Ontario is Canada's leading authority on high quality wine. The association is responsible for the quality of all wines awarded the VQA label in Ontario, Canada's largest wine market. VQA is a self-governing regulatory board tasked with developing educational materials about wine and wine services, consumer advertising and promotional programs aimed at increasing the value and demand for wines produced in Ontario. The organization was established in 1973 and is a member of the Canadian Association of Alcoholic Jurisdictions. VQA Ontario's mandate includes:

- Designating and selling wines that meet VQA standards;

- Developing and maintaining quality assurance programs at wineries across the province;

- Educating the public on wine issues;

- Including VQA designation;

- Promotion of wines produced in Ontario.

The organization is responsible for regulating the wine industry under the provisions of the Liquor Licensing Act (the Act). The VQA Ontario Board of Directors consists of eleven members, each serving a three-year term. Half of the members are appointed by the Province of Ontario. Each of them is a prominent person in a key position in the wine industry, such as a scientist, researcher or retailer. The other half of the Board is made up of representatives from the Ontario wine industry. These individuals were chosen for their leadership role and influence in their organization or region.