Big year for Okanagan wine

Over the past two decades the Okanagan wine industry has grown tremendously and despite a series of natural disasters this spring and summer, the local wine industry has made a name for itself worldwide, says Tina Baird with the Naramata Bench Wineries Association.

Floods in the spring and wildfires in the summer took a toll on Okanagan tourism for many wineries, but for the avid wine buyer they still bought wine, and lots of it.

The floods and fires didn’t impact the wineries product, but many tourists were under the impression that most of them weren’t open for business, according to Baird.

“I was getting calls and emails from consumers saying ‘are the wineries flooded?,’ and I was telling people, ‘you can get to the wineries easily,’” Baird said. “When people are at a distance they don’t understand that it was flooded down on the waterfront and then the same thing happened continuously with the smoke.”

Many tourists who cancelled their trips to the Okanagan this summer were planning on stopping in at the wineries for part of their visit, but also had lots of other activities planned, added Baird.  The tourists who planned on making the vineyards the highlight of their trip still came out and wine toured as planned.

“Luckily, with the Naramata Bench Wine Association we have a very strong and significant database of consumers,” she said. “They were able to communicate directly with our organization and say ‘are the fires and issue?’ and we could respond and say ‘no the wineries are not on fire.’”

“I’m not downgrading how serious the fire situation was, but the media coverage, both with the fires and the flooding, was very detrimental.”

Wineries from all across the Okanagan made names for themselves nationally and internationally this year.

One small Naramata winery cleaned up at the National Wine Awards in 2017 — in the small winery category, La Frenz won best winery of the year.

“La Frenz not only won that award but they also won the 2017 Dan Berger’s International Wine Competition, which is one of California’s most respected competitions,” Baird said.

“The B.C. wine industry is evolving hugely and we can’t wait to see what is in store for 2018.”

B.C. wineries took 14 of 25 spots on overall best wineries in Canada at the national wine awards.

Castanet also reported on strides Poplar Grove has made this year in breaking into the international market.

“We have a world class wine industry here, it is not even a serious question today, our best producers are clearly making wines worthy of sitting alongside wines from anywhere in the world. The major wins by La Frenz Winery and other B.C. wineries at international competitions prove this point.”

Investors appear to be taking notice, with several large acquisitions taking place.

Black Hills Estate Winery, Gray Monk Estate Winery, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and Laughing Stock vineyards all changed hands this year, purchased by larger groups.

Ground also broke on Phantom Creek Estates in Oliver, which is expected to be a $100M project.

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