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Township 7 goes Stampeding Meet Your Local Growers Organic Farm Grows

Summer 2012 $6.95

Display Until July 15, 2012 Publication Mail Agreement No. 40838008

TD Canada Trust

We understand your unique needs so we can meet them Our Agriculture Specialists understand the unique needs of farming. In fact, we have years of experience in agriculture and understand the factors that affect the industry in Canada. So whether you’re looking to expand your operation, finance equipment, quota, or livestock, or improve your cash flow, we’re always ready to provide insightful, one-on-one advice and innovative financial solutions tailored to your specific needs. Our specialists work to build a long-term relationship with you, your business, and the next generation of proud Canadian farmers. Because we know you have goals for your farm, and we want to help you achieve them.

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Summer 2012

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Summer 2012



Summer 2012

Regulars 6 Publisher's View – Lisa Olson 8 Calendar 10 News & Events 35 Underground – Karin Wilson 37 Legal Libations – Denese Espeut-Post 39 Wanderings – Sandra Oldfield 41 Money Talks – Geoff Mcintyre 43 The Word On Wine – BCWI 44 The Wild Things – Margaret Holm

Features 17 Dawn of a New Appellation 21 Young Farmers Profile Claremont Ranch Organics 23 Stressed Out in Hawaii 26 All Worked Up 29 Climate Change Prompts New Research 32 Co-operative Venture 46 International Fruit Stands Cover Photo: Mike Raffin, Bradley Cooper and Lori Pike-Raffin from Township 7. Table of Contents: Mike Raffin and Bradley Cooper. Photo by Kim Elsasser

Summer 2012



Kick Back it’s Storytime

Vol. 53, No 3 Summer 2012


Established in 1959

eehaw is what many Canadians and people from around the world will be shouting out at this year’s Calgary Stampede. Not only will they be hooting and hollering, they will be enjoying wine from one of our fine B.C. wineries.

Publisher Lisa Olson Editor Karin Wilson Graphic Design

Township 7 has been chosen as this year’s official wine sponsor of the 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, quite an honor. So, let’s tip our hats to them, as many visitors will be introduced to B.C. wine.

So, this year, share more stories with your customers and spread other good stories that you hear. Drop in a pamphlet about your fruit varietal or food products -- how one tastily goes well with another, add a recipe or nutritional information. Think about how we buy luxury items

Contributors BCWI, Michael Botner, Devon Brooks, Kim Elsasser, Denese Espeut-Post, Margaret Holm, Helmuth Kanduth, Photo by Kim Elsasser

Earlier this spring, I had the opportunity to meet many growers, chefs, distributors and food producers under one roof at “Meet Your Maker”, an event put on by FarmFolk CityFolk. The fun part of the event was where you got to hear the stories from each grower in a speed dating style process. Their stories were so interesting it made me want to buy from every one of them, which clarifies the need for the buyer to hear more stories and feel emotional and knowledgeable about their food purchases.

Stephanie Symons

Elnora Larder, Geoff McIntyre, William McPhee, Darcy Nybo, Sandra Oldfield, Corrinna Paxton & Holly Thompson Sales & Marketing Holly Thompson

from a new TV, to bath products. It’s about how they will make us feel. From soft sweet smelling skin, to watching the latest and largest, high tech 3D TV, marketing departments have it covered. You can too.

Circulation Orchard & Vine Magazine 1576 West Kelowna Road

There is so much going on this summer with fresh fruit and veggies at the farm gate and farmer’s markets, restaurants serving up fabulous local food, and wine festivals across Canada let’s join together and support our neighbouring businesses and talk about the great stories we hear and the absolutely delicious food available to us. ■

West Kelowna, B.C., V1Z 3H5 E-mail: Phone: 250-769-2123 Fax: 1-866-433-3349 Orchard & Vine Magazine is published six times a year and distributed by addressed direct mail to growers, suppliers and wineries in the Okanagan, Kootenays, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Washington State and throughout Canada. Orchard & Vine is also available through independent B.C. bookstores and online. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40838008 Undeliverable copies should be sent to: 

1576 West Kelowna Road West Kelowna, BC, V1Z 3H5

Cert no. SGS-COC-006263


Summer 2012


Sparkling Wineland Opportunity on B.C.’s Beautiful West Coast


nyone looking to buy the perfect champagne terroir in Canada, should cast their eye to Denman Island, located a stone’s through from the Comox Valley International Airport on Vancouver Island. Wine producers, or investors looking to buy land for a fraction of land costs in the rest of Canada’s wine regions, will quickly discover this area offers a unique geological sand slope formation that can offer up an annual growing capacity of up to 100,000 cases of wine. This winery project opportunity has emerged following an innovative conservation development project, which local design/planner/entrepreneur Henning Nielsen has been spearheading since 2003. Through an innovative deal involving carbon offsets and development rights, Nielsen found a way to secure over 2,000 acres of sensitive ecosystems and valuable recreational features including the pristine crown jewel 35 acres of Chickadee Lake. “This is the best vineyard country in my entire region,” says regional agrologist Jill Hatfield, who is a keen promoter of

the vision for a world-class winery enterprise on this uniquely featured landscape. “Not only is there a great water storage capacity in these huge mineral rich sandbanks, but the heat coming off the southwest facing slopes produces a Mediterranean style feel.” The cumulative growing degree days have been monitored close to the vineyard slopes at over 1,100 – plenty for the whites to reach the desirable mid-level Brix needed for the sparkling wines. Specific colder climate varietals have been developed through a decade of testing in the Gulf Islands region, several of which hold great promise for the sparkling wines. As an investment option, this sparkling winery project has been approved for a 30% tax credit with BC’s Small Business and Venture Capital Program. The site is located next to what is expected to become a new B.C. Provincial Park with hundreds of beautiful forest trails, making it an ideal eco-adventure investment. For more information contact Bente Pilgaard at 250-335-3226 or email



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Summer Okanagan Wine Festival July 7-15 Various locations, B.C. www. 13th Annual BC Enology & Viticulture Conference July 16 - 17 Penticton Trade & Convention Centre Penticton, B.C. 17th Annual Cherry Fair July 21 Laurel Packinghouse, Kelowna, B.C. Contact info: 778-478-0347 20th Anniversary, Galiano Wine Festival Wine: For the Health of It! August 11 Galiano Island, Lions Park, B.C. Naramata Bench Winery Association Tailgate Party September 8 Naramata, B.C.

Check out Gerard’s Equipment for any orchard or vineyard supply, located just south of Oliver on Highway 97.

5592 Hwy 97 Oliver BC 250-498-2524 250-498-6231 8

Summer 2012

The Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival September 8-16 Vancouver Island Wine, Food producers and Restaurants Contact info: 1888-303-3337 4th Annual Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival September 14-16 Osoyoos, B.C. Various locations

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Summer 2012



Photos by Kim Elsasser

It’s Official – Township 7 goes to the Calgary Stampede

Mike Raffin and Laurie Pike-Raffin of Township 7 the Official Wine Sponsor of the Calgary Stampede.

There will be more than a few cowboys and girls mosying up to get a taste of a B.C. winery at this year’s centennial celebration of the Calgary Stampede. The winery, based in both Naramata and Langley, is launching two Stampede-inspired wines at the historic event - a Centennial Chardonnay and Merlot. In addition, the winery will be offering great wine and food seminars with proprietors and B.C. wine luminary Harry McWatters.

wine,” says Duane Horpinuk, director Food and Beverage, Calgary Stampede. Horpinuk said a number of vineyards from Western North America submitted samples, and from there extensive taste tests which led to Township 7. Horpinuk added the winery’s enthusiasm for working with the Stampede for its Centennial year also played a factor.

The celebration coincides with the winery’s own twelfth anniversary.

“We’re truly honoured to participate in this once in a lifetime experience,” said Mike Raffan, Proprietor Township 7 Vineyards & Winery.

“We are looking forward to working with Township 7 for our Centennial

“I spent many years in Calgary as a young man in the restaurant industry

10 Summer 2012

Calgary Stampede Centennial Selection Merlot.

and have great memories of all the fun Stampede activities throughout the city and of the exceptional Calgarian spirit. It’s quite something how the whole city is swept up in the celebrations.” Available in Western Canada only, Raffan said the lush and elegant Township 7 Stampede Centennial Selection Chardonnay was crafted from premium south Okanagan vineyards, with barrel fermentation and aging that reflects the unique terroir of the rugged sun drenched Valley. The Centennial red wine is a fullbodied and supple Merlot, which was barrel fermented for 22 months, and has raspberry flavours with hints of caramel and chocolate on the nose. During the 10-day Stampede, the wine will be offered on park grounds and will be sold at Co-op Wines & Spirits. For those unable to attend the Stampede, with wines are being made available on site at Township 7 in Naramata and Langley. For more information on the festivities at both winery locations check out Stampede for additional details and ticket sales information.

Photographer Adds His Stamp Orchard & Vine has had a longstanding relationship with master photographer Kim Elsasser who took this issue’s Township 7 Stampede photos. Based in Kelowna, Elsasser’s portraits appear in the homes and offices of business leaders, sports stars, national and international celebrities all over the world.

Established Company Gains New Face VineTech Canada, formerly known as Gemmrich Nurseries, has added some industry clout to its team. The company has acquired International Viticuture Services Inc. and its team, including well-known viticulturalist Lloyd Schmidt, and B.C. representative Frank Whitehead. The move makes VineTech one of the most experienced companies in the country when it comes to providing Canadian vintners with applied researchbased technology and expert grapevine solutions. The name is new but the tradition of unbeatable quality in our products and services continues.

Summer 2012 11


Apple Plebiscite Postponed By Devon Brooks A plebiscite to see if B.C. apple farmers would support a levy to partially fund the work of an Apple Research and Promotion Agency (ARPA) has been put off. At the B.C. Fruit Growers Association AGM this year a resolution passed for farmers to vote on a proposed levy of 0.9¢ per pound, which was to be decided by the end of April 2012. BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas says the resolution “neither passed nor failed because we’ve postponed the vote until next January.” Lucas says there was some pushback by farmers because of ambiguities about the net cost and what actual benefits would arise. “In normal economic times it would not be as much concern to growers. In tough economic times, when you’re proposing a new levy, concerns come to the surface about affordability,” he says. The proposal suggested some money growers currently pay to BC Tree Fruits would be diverted to ARPA but Lucas says a deal with BC Tree Fruits has not been reached. In addition Lucas says other funding sources and tax credits might cushion some of the cost, but exact numbers are not yet known. “Another area of concern is what projects will the money be spent on,” he adds. Growers want to know exactly what their dollars will go toward.

ARPA is a national project, but three provinces – British Columbia, along with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – have not signed on so far. If ARPA goes ahead it will allow research projects that will benefit farmers and it will create the ability to put the same levy on imported apples, virtually doubling the revenue and research benefits. Lucas suggests, “I don’t think it will work if B.C. is not onboard.” Precise details of the levy, benefits and costs will be released this fall. After time for discussion, voting should begin next January and, Lucas says, a decision reached in time for the Canadian Horticultural Council’s AGM in March 2013.

Apple Alice Proves to be a Winner BC Tree Fruits is pleased to announce the winners of its first ever Apple Month national contest, the Artful Apple Contest. Artful Apple asked fruit fans across Canada to decorate their favorite variety of BC Tree Fruit apples and upload the works of art for the public to vote on. The “Alice” apple is the grand prize winner of an exclusive Okanagan vacation for four people worth over $4,000. “Captain Mac. Sparrow” took second place which garnered an Apple iPad while “Applepogo” won an Apple iPod Nano. Division 7 from Begbie Elementary was crowned winners of the classroom contest division. Over 450 decorated apples were entered and 276,700 votes cast during the contest period.

The “Alice” apple is the grand prize winner of an exclusive Okanagan vacation for four people worth over $4,000. 12 Summer 2012

“We are very happy with the results of the Artful Apple contest as many Canadians, young and old, participated. We look forward to more nation-wide events happening in years to come,” said Chris Pollock, Marketing Manager of BC Tree Fruits. To view the other winners, check out the Artful Apple contest at or

You enjoy the wine. We enjoy the wine business. To find out what we can do for you, contact Geoff McIntyre, CA in the Okanagan at 1.877.766.9735 or Marsha Stanley, CA•CBV on Vancouver Island at 1.888.854.8567.


A Taste of Everything Whether its grape wine, fruit wine, or even cider, the 2012 BC Winery Touring Guide offers up a taste of everything. “The BC Winery Tour Guide is the only wine map in the province that provides a complete listing of wineries in the province regardless of location or association membership,” says Maggie Anderson, marketing director of the BC Wine Institute, which has released the guide in conjunction with Tourism BC. “Prior to the release of the 2012 BC Winery Touring Guide, tourists had the daunting task of sorting through countless wine tour maps from various regions in province to determine which one suited their needs or to get the full picture. Even then, most didn’t offer a full listing of wineries in that area,” notes BC Wine Institute Marketing Director Maggie Anderson.” The 2012 BC Winery Touring Guide is available now at Visitor Centres and BC VQA Wine Stores across the province. It’s also available online at

Summer 2012 13


Meet Your Maker – Event Tackles the Price of Food Production By Darcy Nybo Regional distribution and increasing the public value of farm goods topped the agenda at the Meet Your Maker event put on recently by FarmFolk CityFolk in West Kelowna. The event drew farmers, producers, processors, food service industry reps, packers, distributors, chefs, retailers, wholesalers and everyone in between for a day of face-to-face speed networking and chance to hear a panel of experts on the future of our food. Panelist Thomas Tumbach of LocalMotive Organic Delivery and cofounder of Farm Bag Fundraiser spoke on how our food has become a commodity when it should in fact be more community and spiritually based. He also brought up provincial regulations around the amount of food farmers are allowed to grow and how this results in importing produce from the United States. “We need to educate the consumer,” he said. “Regional distribution is something we need to look at. We need to look at ways to get producers more money than selling wholesale. “ David Wilson, the produce manager for Choices Markets agreed. “We need to teach consumers about the story, the romance, behind the growing and production of food. There is a movement out there towards food value and education and we must make sure it continues. “ Wilson suggested more field trips to farms and the creation of more coops. “We also have to find a way to show people that food doesn’t have to be perfect looking. People don’t want to buy three-legged carrots, they want the pretty ones.” Panel member Angela Reid-Nagy, CEO of GreenStep, is working hard to help restaurants achieve ‘green’ status while helping to create conscious consumers. Her belief is the price of oil will have a huge impact 14 Summer 2012

Donna Dennison of Little Creek.

The Forbes brothers of Forbes Family Farm.

on local food procurement.

the food we need to survive.

“The price of oil will change things in the near future,” she said. “Transporting cheap produce from Mexico will no longer be an option. It is time for us to ramp things up now so we are ready for the change.”

“We need to honour those who grow our food,” she said. “Growing food gives more of a spiritual than a monetary return to farmers. It’s rewarding but it is a lot of hard work.”

Chef Roger Planiden, owner of Chef Planiden’s Culinary Adventure, hammered the topic of local food distribution home again. “The bottom line is we need to support local growers by eating locally grown foods. Chefs are finally figuring out that utilizing locally grown ingredients make their dishes taste better.” Planiden also agreed co-ops were the way to go and added a twist to the concept. “I’d like to see a canning facility in the co-op for tourists. They can buy their fruits and vegetables fresh and then can them while they are here so there is no spoilage on the way home.” Donna Denison, owner of Little Creek Dressings, uses local as much as possible in her recipes. She spoke of the respect that is somewhat lacking towards the very people who produce

Denison also agreed that education was the key to creating sustainability. “Farmers need to be paid more money for what they do. In order to do that we need to educate people on the amount of work that goes into producing healthy food. Consumers have no problem spending $5 for a cappuccino or going to the movies and spending $8 on popcorn and yet they take farmers – and healthy, fresh foods – for granted.” Through education, creation of coops and organizations like FarmFolk CityFolk, the food industry is slowly changing. Things like ‘ugly food syndrome’ and consumer ignorance are now recognized and people are waking up. It is, however, up to all of us to continue educating consumers to the reality of being a farmer and on the foods we produce.

Wine Industry Gathers Speakers from around the globe will be heading up the 13th Annual Enology and Viticulture Conference July 16-17 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Experts will be presetning a full agenda to interested growers, winemakers, students and researchers. This exciting international event provides opportunities to learn about

leading edge research and technology for vineyards and wineries and to network with over 300 delegates.

perfect way to get to know suppliers.

Growers who simply can’t take a full day off to attend the conference, might want to slip into the Tradeshow.

The BCWGC will also be hosting its annual general meeting Monday, July 16 starting at 8 a.m.

With more than 100 exhibitors showcasing the latest technologies, products, and services, the tradeshow is a

Tickets are only $10 (HST included), and can be purchased at the door.

For more information or to register contact Louise Corbeil at 250-7672534 or

Photo by Darcy Nybo

New Economic Juice for the Industry The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is working to help growers learn more about how to convert their farm into agri-tourism operations through a new pilot project. In May, the COEDC put out the call for proposals for the project which will take place over six months and assist up to eight farm operators with converting their operation to agritourism status. The decision came following the CEODC’s work with the industry, including its 2011-12 site visitation project which revealed growers are

looking for mentorship in product development, marketing and diversification. “Overall, farmers do not see a positive future for themselves,” the CEODC stated in the terms of reference of its Request for Proposal document. “Commodity based farming is becoming less sustainable in the Okanagan, particularly on small lot farms. This situation is typical of any farming region in Canada. Today, to remain viable, farmers must look to opportunities that do exist for them in many areas such as crop choice, value-added diversification, agri-tourism, and

new marketing channels.” The project will be focused on two key targets: 1 - understanding the ongoing challenges facing the agriculture industry, and 2 - initially assisting up to eight farm operators in converting to agri-tourism status. The project will be facilitated by the EDC, which is operated by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. It’s expected to wrap up by midDecember.

JERRY GEEN 250-870-3888




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Summer 2012 15



Thank You! I think you have managed with the last two issues to guarantee their permanent presence in every farmer’s house in the valley. Full of useful info. I however particularly like your taking on the Columbia River issue. Water is the biggie for future life on the planet and old contracts will have to reflect that. Terrance Heath

Bumper cherry crop expected BC Tree Fruits expects a lot of red faces – and lips – this summer, thanks to a bumper crop of Okanagan cherries to the tune of eight million pounds. The figure is almost double the size of last year’s crop. “A mild winter and an early and hot spring led to our cherry trees blooming three to five days ahead of last year,” said Hank Markgraf, BC Tree Fruits Senior Field Adviser. Chris Pollock, marketing manager for BC Tree Fruits, says the early season means the fruit will be in grocery stores longer, starting at the end of June and likely stretching through to the end of August.

Just got back from vacation and read the Spring O&V magazine. I thought I would give you some feedback because as the Editor it is sometimes difficult to know whether you are winning or losing unless you keep score !! I am very impressed with layout, quality of printing and content. I am not sure if it is just my impression however the magazine seems to get better and better. Congratulations Robin Durrant

CORRECTION An article that appeared in the Fall 2011 Issue of Orchard & Vine entitled Certified Organic: Crafting the Paper Trail contained some inaccuracies. The family identified as the previous owners of the property were Ernie and Edeltraud Hattenbach. Son-in-law Ken Volk informed Orchard & Vine that Ernie did not die of cancer, as was suggested in the article. Orchard & Vine apologizes for the error.



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Photos by Michael Botner

Swiss Forester Grows Winery In B.C. Alps

By Michael Botner

View from the patio at Larch Hills Winery. Summer 2012 17

LARCH HILLS WINERY Standing under the tall cedars and Douglas firs outside Larch Hills Winery, the setting is both charming and elevating. At 700 metres, Larch lays claim to being B.C.’s highest elevation winery with the south and west facing vineyards overlooking the northern Okanagan Valley. Until this spring, co-owner Jack Manser has proudly displayed the Okanagan Valley as the geographical (VQA) designation on the winery’s wine labels. But now that’s changing. According to Manser, the B.C. Wine Authority has ruled that the winery is outside the Okanagan Valley, and, therefore, wines made from Larch Hills grapes can no longer show Okanagan Valley on their labels. As a separate Shuswap appellation is not approved, the wines are only covered by the all-inclusive VQA British Columbia designation. “The decision came out of the blue,” he says. “It’s based on a map from the Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre in Summerland which shows that the winery – and Deep Creek – is excluded from the Okanagan Valley watershed. But from this vantage point, it is apparent that the water flows to Deep Creek below our vineyards, which runs into the Okanagan. Suddenly, the authorities are getting a lot tougher.” With the Okanagan well-known as a wine producing region, the question is obvious – will this change affect Larch Hills’ sales numbers? Manser says it’s too early to tell. “Grapes grown here make up only

40-50% of wines we produce, with the rest sourced from Westbank and Kelowna, which is part of the Okanagan Valley,” says Manser. “I can’t tell how much the change will impact on sales.” But he indicated that he may have to join other wineries in the area to request a separate Shuswap appellation. A forester by training, Manser worked as a district forestry manager in his native Switzerland before immigrating to Canada in 1992. Facing a scarcity of jobs in his chosen field, he opted to buy a mixed farm in Alberta. When the break-up of his first marriage necessitated the sale of the farm, Manser’s search for a viable business opportunity took him to Larch Hills. As the Shuswap’s first winery – opening in 1997 - the 72-acre property included an eight-acre vineyard along with a rugged forested area, over 55-acres, covered with cedar, birch, aspen and Douglas fir. With his new wife Hazel, who he met in Alberta, the couple purchased Larch Hills in 2005. “At 2,500 cases, the numbers made sense and there was the potential for growth,” Manser explains. “Besides, I loved the land.” With no experience in winemaking, he arranged for previous owner Hans Nevrkla to coach him for the first 18 months.

Wood storage from logged sections.

“I learned winemaking by asking questions, reading books, searching the internet and making mistakes.” His background in forestry proved invaluable. To expand the acreage under vine, he would propagate his

“After planting the vine cuttings in little pots with peat moss – the same as for trees - they all died over the winter.” Jack Manser 18 Summer 2012

Jack’s furnace

Larch wine shop/winery.

own vines. But the first year taught him a crucial lesson. “After planting the vine cuttings in little pots with peat moss – the same as for trees - they all died over the winter,” he explains. “It resulted in a lot of wasted time. Now they go in the ground and I have to dig.” Since taking over the winery, Manser has added seven acres of vines – Ortega, Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine and Madeleine Sylvaner – for a total of 15 on the mountainside. That required clearing a section of his beloved forest – and another opportunity to use his former training. “I logged the trees myself without clear-cutting and used the trees as carefully as possible,” he says. Utilizing untreated wood from homegrown wood, he made posts with a peeler he had acquired, as well as patio railings and benches. The bulk is used as firewood in an outdoor wood furnace unit that he conceived and built himself. It heats water that

circulates in each building – winery and wine shop, storage building and house – using a heat circulator with temperature controlled heat exchangers that provides all of the heating needs and shuts off in summer. “I am not a green activist, but there is so much wood around,” he says. When Manser took over the winery, it lacked up-to-date equipment. The basket press and diatomaceous earth filter were inefficient, according to Manser, so he invested in major upgrades, such as a computercontrolled Sutter press and crossflow filtration system. “I was told that the cost is too high for a small winery,” he says. “But spread over 10 years, it has been worthwhile as we can improve the quality of our wine and save time, especially during the harvest. It allows me to spend more time tending the vines even though production has doubled to 5,000 cases.” Preferring operations and farming,

Manser has had to face marketing challenges in recent years. While doing fairly well in the northern Okanagan and Shuswap, sales in the Lower Mainland have been hampered by difficulty finding experienced agents. To address the situation, Manser wants Hazel and Karin, his daughter from his previous marriage, to travel to Vancouver and visit restaurant and private stores. Assisting at the winery over the summer, Karin lives in Red Deer where she is a business student and is looking at transferring to Okanagan College in Salmon Arm. “She is great with people,” adds Manser. Manser hopes to see his 19-year-old son take on a bigger role too. Wayne currently lives and works at the winery. “He helped with the 2011 vintage,” Manser says. “But if he wants to stay, he should go to school and study winemaking.”■ Summer 2012 19

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Photos by Darcy Nybo




t’s not often young people with no family background in agriculture decide to go into farming. Molly and Mat Thurston are two such people. In fact their love of agriculture is what brought them together. Molly, from Kelowna, got her first real job at age 14 working for the Sperling and Casorso families at the Pioneer Country Market on Benvoulin Road in Kelowna. She graduated with a degree in Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University, and then realized it wasn’t what she wanted to do. She fondly remembered her days at Pioneer Country Market and applied, and was accepted into, the ag-

riculture program at the University of Guelph. Matt’s first job was working on a dairy farm with boys he played hockey with. He loved working outside and decided agriculture was the perfect fit. He too was accepted at U of G. The two met at university, fell in love and planned a life as farmers. They came to Kelowna in 2005 and got married. That summer Molly met local farmer, Bob McCoubrey, and the pair both found jobs in agriculture in the community. “In 2007 we learned that Bob was leasing his organic farm in Lake Country so we decided to take over the lease,” says Molly. “We leased

the orchard for a year – our first major introduction to farming for ourselves. We took over the daily production and management and started a small market garden business.” By the end of the season the pair was exhausted and totally overwhelmed. They went back to their previous jobs, bought a little house and officially retired from farming. Or so they thought. “We got to go out and have fun but after a while we were totally bored. We missed the puttering,” laughs Molly. “By January 2009 we were looking for another lease. We ended up talking to Bob again and Summer 2012 21

“We set up a Monday night market in our driveway and our neighbours would come and pick up fresh vegetables for the week. It was amazing how transformative it was in our neighbourhood,” Molly Thurston

THE DIRT ON YOUNG FARMER LOANS Not every young farmer is fortunate to either inherit land or get a break from the sellers, like the Thurston family. Fortunately, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) now has Young Farmer Loan’s available. The new program offers loans up to $500,000 to purchase or improve farmland and buildings. Farmers can choose between a variable interest rate at prime plus 0.5 per cent or a get their loan at a fixed special rate. There is no loan processing fees for the Young Farmer Loan. FCC officials said interest rates will be attractive compared to what young producer might otherwise be paying. Loans are available to young farmers, aged 18 to 39 who are establishing a farm business. Many of these farmers are facing numerous financial challenges including completing post-secondary education, raising a young family and maintaining an off-farm job. The FCC hopes the new program will make starting a farm obtainable for a new generation of Canadian farmers. For more information on FCC’s Young Farmer Loan go to and search for “New Young Farmer Loan.”

he told us he had one acre of certified organic land at the bottom of his orchard that he wasn’t using and offered it to us for a market garden business.” They grew vegetables on that land as well as in the front yard of their Glenmore home. “We set up a Monday night market in our driveway and our neighbours would come and pick up fresh vegetables for the week. It was amazing how transformative it was in our neighbourhood,” says Molly. “We would end up with a dozen or more people in the yard talking and sharing recipes.” Still the couple wanted more. In August of 2010 they entered into negotiations to buy McCoubrey’s entire seven and three quarter acres. They finalized the deal in January of 2011. This wasn’t your average land/orchard purchase. There were some unique stipulations to go with the purchase. First off McCoubrey knew full well how big a barrier land prices were to young farmers but needed a good price for his land. As a compromise they structured a deal with McCoubrey holding a second mortgage on the property. There were the two homes on the property. The Thurstons eventually moved into one but the other was to be occupied by McCoubrey’s mother Pat. “It’s worked out great,” says Molly. “Pat is in her early 90s and she has her own garden behind the house. She shares her recipes and gardening tips with us. She is made from that really hearty stock that I hope I develop into.” Selling their produce is not a prob-

22 Summer 2012

Molly Thurston of Claremont Ranch Organics.

lem. The Thurston’s have built up a great rapport with Urban Harvest, one of their largest customers. They are also developing a small business with local restaurants. Molly says none of this would have been possible without help. “Having a farm couple that has gone through the same challenges and issues, excitement and opportunities was great. We also team up with local growers and farmers to share equipment or get help and advice. We both believe we need to go out and see different farms, locally, nationally and internationally to get ideas. It gets you excited about the business of agriculture.” ■

STRESSED OUT IN HAWAII Growers apply stress to create unique wine By Lisa Olson

Photos by Corrinna Paxton


hen one thinks of Maui, Hawaii it is usually in the form of sunny skies, long stretches of sandy beaches, surfers or relaxing on a beach. But, venture “Upcountry” and you will find Maui’s only winery. Situated on the historical famous Ulupulakua Ranch, Maui’s Winery and Tedeschi Vineyards produces a variety of wine including a pineapple wine with a splash of passion fruit, along with raspberry, white, red and sparkling wines. Growing grapes in a hot tropical

climate has its challenges. First off, the grape vines never rest. The climate creates such an easy growing environment, the result is no real no real grape stress. Left up to their own schedule the vines would soak up the sun, flower at different times, and produce low yields all year long which doesn’t make for a great harvest. So, what needs to happen in a hot tropical climate is training the vines to have a dormant period and produce only one harvest per year, which means scheduling the vines

for a long slow growth by pruning back and regulating their food and water so they will go through a dormant period. “The vineyard is our pleasure,” says president, Paula Hegele. “We just go for the challenge!” What does grow well in a tropical climate are pineapples, hence their biggest seller Maui Splash, a light and tasty dessert wine, which can be enjoyed while sitting on a lanai, or patio with a cool breeze. Their signature pineapple wine also mixes well with sparkling water and is a big sellSummer 2012 23

er in the hotels and delicious mixed together in a fruit salad. Making wine from grapes and wine from pineapple poses some challenges. The crusher has to be adapted with different blades to be able to gently crush grapes and yet remain sharp enough to crush the pineapples. The pineapple tops are cut off before crush and given back to the farmer to re-plant new plants, and any other leftovers from the crush are given to the cattle.

The wine tasting room was the former guesthouse of King Kalakaua, Hawaii’s “merry monarch” who frequented

“The cattle recognize the pineapple truck and will chase after it when they see it coming to receive their pineapple treats”, says Hegele. Of course just like Canada, weather plays a role too. Three weeks prior to visiting, a huge tropical storm devastated two of the huge Cyprus Trees from the 1800s that formed a Hula circle at the front of the wine tasting shop. Rather than dig up the trees, the owners chose to turn the tragedy into a meaningful opportunity to remain connected to the past by enlisting the help of an award winning sculptor, Tim Garcia to carve the broken trees into totem poles. One is to be King Kalakaua, a ‘Merrie Monarch” who enjoyed watching Hula dancers perform when he frequented the original Rose Ranch. So, next time you plan a Hawaiian vacation take a day to venture into the lush farming area of Maui, along 24 Summer 2012

a windy country road and into their lush farming area where you will see sheep and cattle along the way. There are also other Agri-tourism adventures along the way such as a dairy farm. At the end of the road you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Tedeschi Vineyards.■

Tim Garcia carves one of the Cyprus trees uprooted by a wine

the many parties on the original ranch.

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In a tropical climate, crush facilities are outdoors, it may look slightly historical, but inside holds state of the art equipment and imported stainless steel tanks. Nearby, an avocado tree drops fresh avocados to add to staff lunches. Summer 2012 25


Government hints at changes to foreign worker programs By Devon Brooks


he federal government had been making much noise about the need to reform the Employment Insurance system. Changes introduced at the end of May would see some E.I. recipients lose their benefits if they don’t take available work, within a given period of time, even if pay is substantially lower than previous positions. The idea is to force the chronically, or habitually unemployed to take up positions they would normally avoid. Since the new requirements have limits based on commuting time it is unlikely that anyone, other than locals, would be pressured to take fruit picking jobs. Although federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley specifically mentioned foreign workers in her talks on the E.I. revisions; she appears most concerned with foreign workers used for service outlets like fast food restaurants, rather than agriculture.

26 Summer 2012

Finley also suggested employers make more effort to find willing workers, but so far, it is unclear what new conditions may be imposed to find those workers. Coral Beach Farms is a fourth-generation, large operation in Lake Country renowned for its cherries. Coral Beach takes in a couple of hundred Mexican workers each year through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). A spokesperson, who did not want to be identified, says they would prefer to hire Canadians but they can’t find enough of them. He says they go beyond what is required under the SAWP when advertising for Ca-

nadian workers, but still can’t attract enough. Whatever the number of unemployed Canadians who might lose their benefits or be forced to work on farms, Glen Lucas, manager of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, is frankly skeptical. He says, “Forcing people to take farming work, doesn’t work.” Canadians have become, he believes, an urban folk who do not relate to farm work and often don’t see a future in it. They don’t like heavy labour jobs and won’t do them. Immigrants see it differently. Lucas says immigrants are essential

“If we’re going to have farms in 20 or 30 years we’re going to have to figure out who’s going to be the farmers. We need more immigration.” Glen Lucas

for the continuation of farming in this country. “If we’re going to have farms in 20 or 30 years we’re going to have to figure out who’s going to be the farmers. We need more immigration.” This year costs for hiring foreign workers have increased, partly because of the increase in the province’s minimum wage. Hiring Canadians is also less expensive because plane fare and a guaranteed length of employment are not requirements for Canadian workers. Even so, the Coral Beach spokesperson reports it saves them money to hire Mexicans because the foreigners are dedicated to staying. Too many Canadians will stay on for only a few paycheques before moving on. Some treat orchard work as a sort of working holiday. The E.I. changes will likely have little impact on that kind of transient job behaviour. Down in Creston, the Snow family runs a much smaller cherry operation at the LW Truscott Farms. Gary Snow says the farm is shrinking. Cherries have become money losers because of a huge expansion coming from Washington State and increased production in Europe. Picking employment on the Snow farm is down to 40 positions from 70 in past years as he switched from growing cherries to processing the cherries into juice. For their 40 positions the Snows received 600 applicants last year and Gary expects to get the same this year, primarily from Quebec youth. He is also

aware that those pickers will apply for work at many farms. Snow guesses all the farms in Creston require a total of 400 to 500 workers. While Truscott Farms has never hired Mexicans, he acknowledges that they don’t have enough work to consider the program (under the SAWP workers must be guaranteed six weeks of employment, longer than the Snows need to bring in their cherries). Other farmers in Creston employ Mexicans, but Gary says that is because they own larger farms with a variety of crops so they can move the Mexicans from one crop to another. Susan Snow says they don’t want to hire non-Canadians and likely will never need to. Like most farmers they offer jobs first to returning pickers. At Truscott Farms pickers are paid by piece work, unlike SAWP which must offer an hourly wage. Truscott pickers can do very well. Gary says top notch pickers can earn up to $50 an hour. The federal government’s changes to E.I. and requirements for hiring Canadian workers will come into effect over the course of the next year. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), the ministry responsible for administering programs like the SAWP, would not comment, saying only that details should be released within a “few months.”  Coral Beach reports no changes to the temporary worker program this year so whatever bureaucratic changes are going to occur won’t affect farmers until 2013.■

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Climate change prompts new research By Elnora Larder Scientists from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus have obtained a grant from Agriculture Canada to determine the best way to water and fertilize crops in order to increase yields while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “I think it’s great,” says BC Fruits Growers Association president Kirpal Boparai. “The agriculture industry needs that kind of help.” “It’s great to see government coming up with these kinds of programs to help growers,” he adds. “Our agriculture budget in B.C. is very low, and government needs to look at that.” The $1.2 million grant will support research on grapes, apples, and raspberries. UBCO biologists Melanie Jones and Louise Nelson, and soil scientist Craig Nichols won the grant to carry out research on crops and Green House Gases (GHG’s). In future, there may be shortages of both water and fertilizer. Already, fertilizer is in limited supply and is frequently tied to the availability of fossil fuels. Due to the effects of climate change, there may be water shortages. Growers who know how to get good crop yields in these limited conditions will have an advantage. “Production of crop volume relies upon delivering both water and nutrients to the plants in the right

UBC Earth and Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Craig Nichol explains the soil science behind an agricultural greenhouse gas research program, which is being supported by an $1.2-million investment from Agriculture and Agr-Foods Canada under its Agricultural Greenhouse Gases program. Enclosed soil chambers, like the one pictured, will be used to collect and measure greenhouse gas samples.

amounts, and at the right times during the growing cycle,” says Nichol. “Delivering too much water, or too much fertilizer, may result in the leaching of nutrients past the root zone and down to the underlying groundwater.” According to Jones, roughly half of the greenhouse gases thought to be produced by agriculture in Canada,

originate from soil processes involved in the generation by soil microorganisms of three important GHG’s: C02(carbon dioxide), N2O,(nitrogen dioxide) and CH4(methane). Part of the project will include measuring these at different water levels and fertilization rates. “Practices to improve the efficiency of agricultural water use, such as ap-

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plication of mulches and supplying water based plant need, are being adopted, but the effects of these practices on release or greenhouse gasses are poorly studied,” Jones says. Plants use carbon dioxide, and can fix it in the soil so it is lost from the atmosphere even when roots die. This is called “carbon sequestration”. The project will measure which management practices increase carbon sequestration. Nitrous oxide emissions make particularly powerful GHG’s, with a 300fold higher potential for trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Two kinds of nitrogen cycling soil organisms produce nitrous oxide: the nitrifying and denitrifying soil organisms. Denitrifying organisms favor saturated soils with limited oxygen availability, while nitrifying organisms like drier soils. “Irrigation practices, nitrogen fertilizer and mulch application can all have a major impact on nitrification and denitrication activity in agricultural soils,” says Nelson. She says the project will measure the numbers and activities of the soil microbes and relate them to nitrous oxide emissions. This will help to determine which management practices are effective in minimizing nitrous oxide emissions. Ultimately, the researchers hope that the knowledge gained from the project will provide growers with climate data so they can calculate the right amount of dissolved nutrients and irrigation water (also known as fertigation) to treat row plants. The project was is being funded through Agriculture Caanda’s $27-million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program, which focuses on developing on-farm greenhouse gas mitigating technologies. The AGGP is part of Canada’s contribution to the Global Research Alliance, an international group with over 30 signatory countries. ■

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Co-operative venture - A careful consideration By William McPhee


Whether or not you choose to become a member of the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative, the largest in the Okanagan Valley, will depend on a number of factors. These include your ability as a grower, your orchard varieties, your co-operative attitude and potential as an independent marketer and so on. Many co-op growers do not understand the term co-operative. Apples off the tree taste good, even from a neglected orchard. The challenge, when shipping to a major packinghouse, is to produce a visually perfect apple of the right variety, shape, colour and size that will store 8-10 months and meets the artificial visual perceptions of the supermarkets. With some varietal exceptions, these

Photos by William McPhee

any new growers who have moved into the Okanagan and bought a farm ask for advice on how to best manage the farm they have bought. One of their first questions is: should I join the co-operative or not? Usually, when investigating their move to an orchard, a new orchardist hears negative comments about the co-operatives and the poor returns they can expect.

Growers need to consider quite a few factors when choosing a co-op - including size.

apples, when shipped through the co-operative, pay well. If you can meet the criteria you will make money. It is the fruit that falls outside the strict parameters set by a major segment of the public (apples that don’t have “style”), that will not return good dollars from the co-operative. For the average and below average new grower the co-operative will be a disappointment. Some people will buy an apple on its eating quality alone but reality is that presentation is a major part

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of North American retailing. If you just want to farm and produce a decent eating apple consider selling through the independent packers of which there are more and more popping up in the Okanagan valley each year.

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This seems counter to the strategy of combining the four or five strong co-operatives of 10 years ago into one “super” co-op as a means of becoming more competitive but achieving the standards set at the cooperative is proving difficult for many growers. Size isn’t everything! Compare the large and small. Be sure if you choose a small independent that they are a stable business with a good reputation. The small independent for example, has been in business for 20 years and successfully competes with the “big” cooperative for returns. Growers who were successful at the “big” co-op often switched because they get better returns at a smaller house that is at liberty to pick and choose its producers. Your return will be influenced by the general quality of all growers in the co-op so you become penalized for the poor quality of others. Other options are available such as marketing your own fruit through farmers markets. This requires some expertise in sales and a lot of traveling to markets. If you are capable, returns can be lucrative. To go this route you definitely need to have a market, some cold storage space and dependable transport set up well in advance.

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The co-operative does have many advantages for competent growers who produce high quality fruit. ■ They have an established marketing system with the larger retail chains who take the bulk of the valley fruit. ■ They guarantee to members that they will take all of your fruit (assuming the varieties are commercial). ■ They supply services that can be unavailable to non-co-op growers and at reasonable cost.

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■ They supply bins to the growers (as some smaller packers do), have modern storage facilities with CA (controlled atmosphere) storages and sell orchard chemical and fertilizer supplies direct to growers. ■ They supply field service (horticultural assistance) that assists growers with spray timing, pruning knowhow, etc. This service is often needed by new growers; especially inexperienced growers and not readily available elsewhere. In spite of the complaining one hears about the failures at the co-op level the main failure within the industry is at the farm level. If you want to farm and are rich enough to buy into the orchard business, be sure you understand what

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makes the farm “co-op friendly.” For example, is your new orchard “positioned” for success? It is frustrating as a support person to be called into an orchard to give advice and be confronted with a hopeless situation. Trees that are planted at the wrong spacing, trees that are clearly suffering from years of neglect, varieties that are not commercially viable etc., and to hear the owner or lessee blame the low returns from this poor orchard on the packinghouse. I would advise anyone planning to buy into a tree fruit farm and who is serious about farming (land speculators are not included) to hire a horticulturist to walk the property with you to point out the weaknesses in the plantings, the cost of necessary correction that might be required and the standard requirement necessary to ensure reasonable returns from the co-operative.

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Many growers are operating successful farms without joining the co-op. Many growers are running successful farms within the co-operative system. ■


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The Bluer the Berry, the Sweeter The Fruit since 2006. Everyone in B.C. knows blueberries have been big news, but the stats bare that out ten-fold revealing a 76.8 per cent increase in acreage since 2006 up to 20,858 acres. B.C. accounts for 11.9 per cent of the national blueberry area, up from 9.3 per cent in 2006.


s I write this column, I’m eating one of my favourite things in the world – blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream. It’s one of my childhood memories – going to White Spot in West Vancouver, eating a great burger, and then, if my dad was feeling generous, enjoying that pie. Somewhere there are pictures of me with a huge purple stained mouth, grinning away. My parents probably thought blueberries were exotic. They emigrated here from Europe where this North American native plant only arrived in the 1930s. Clearly they weren’t the only ones who thought there was something special about this berry that was so abundant here. Stats Canada has just released its first piece of data from the 2011 Census of Agriculture – the first such census

That’s a lot of pie. And frozen fruit, and jam and all kinds of other things ready for export. What’s so wonderful about this news is that here is a case of something being shared in a bigger way. British Columbians know blueberries. We know them so well, it took a few decades of taking them for granted before someone twigged there was something special here. The report also revealed that while people may wonder what’s happening to the farm in B.C., it has, in fact, remained relatively stable. The Census counted 19,759 farms, representing a 0.4 per cent decrease. That’s far better than across the country where the national level decrease sits at 10.3 per cent. Farms in B.C. remain intact – likely a testament to the agricultural land reserve. But there’s more to it than that.

Farmers are still farming, with the number of farmer operators up 0.2 per cent from 2006 to 29,925 in the province. Women make up a third of those farmers – the highest proportion of female operators in the country at 36.5 per cent. Having said that, bigger is clearly better if you’re measuring value from a economic standpoint. Large farms with $500,000 or more in gross farm receipts represented only 6.4 per cent in the province, but accounted for 74.5 per cent of the total gross farm receipts reported in 2010. That doesn’t leave much more than chicken scratch for the little guys (and gals). Also telling is how many operators continue to have to rely on other work to pay the bills. Farming has – out of economic necessity rather than choice – become a hobby for more than half of all farmers. Only a quarter of B.C. farmers work their farm 40-hours a week, that’s even fewer than were able to do so in 2006. All of this makes me wonder how much work needs to be done to make our farms viable. What can

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growers do to ensure people literally buy in to the “farm fresh is best” message that has been sent out so much in the last few years. Here in the Okanagan, I can’t begin to explain how much different things are than 2006. Restaurants regularly use fresh local produce – and you can taste the difference. The number, and variety, of wineries continues to grow. Farmers markets are in virtually every small town and they’re busy. We have community gardens, we have spin gardening experts, we have people who perform mobile slaughterhouse services. The change has been immense.



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My sense: it’s now about the big bucks. Like our forest industry, when we ship raw logs we only produce so much value. The large farm may be part of the answer, but I wonder too if it has to do with investing in valueadded. It’s a complex time, but the loss of not just farm land, but locally grown fruit, produce, livestock, is a loss to our physical and psychological health. I have no doubt about that. As for the blueberry growers – congratulations on creating something great from that little blueberry that has turned into sweet fruit indeed. Good things frequently come in small packages. We just need to look with ‘fresh’ eyes. ■ Karin Wilson is the editor of Orchard & Vine.

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A Lawyer in your Back Pocket er service. I have yet to meet a person who tells me they love lawyers, other than my husband. The truth is we are not to be feared or to be the butt of jokes (okay, some jokes), rather we are here to help.


ou can pay me in apples. Or cherries.

Before moving to the Okanagan Valley three years ago, my husband and I thought about moving to the area and earning fruit for a living. As tourists, we thought: who needs money? We can live on fruit, sunshine and scenery. Clearly, we were experiencing that vacation high that was quickly lost when we returned home. Fast forward a few years, throw in a move from Alberta, an eight-acre fruit orchard needing work (and more work), a few new businesses, a couple of kids and a lot of reality, and we realized our foolish idea of living on fruit alone was just that, foolish. As a lawyer with many years of experience, but a relative newbie to farming life and the agriculture and agritourism industries, I’ve been giving a lot of thought about what topic to cover in this, my first article – and it’s this: no reasonable lawyer will tell you to get paid in apples, or cherries for that matter. This is a theme that bears repeating. The thing is, a good business lawyer will sit down with you, help you guide your business and provide you with the information and advice you need to be successful. But not all business owners have a good business lawyer, and there are a number of reasons for that. Some people fear lawyers, some find lawyers are too expensive, some find lawyers do not provide good custom-

Whether speaking with clients, friends or colleagues, I often hear the use of a lawyer as a threat: “if you don’t do this, I’ll call my lawyer” or “if you do that, I’ll call my lawyer.” While it is true that a lawyer can help people resolve disputes, there are many important business related services a lawyer can provide well before there is any dispute that needs to be resolved. Whenever someone introduces me as their lawyer and says, “not that I

need a lawyer,” it is clear to me that there needs to be more education about the benefits of a business lawyer. The vast majority of you reading this magazine and, I hope, this article are in business. You may be a winemaker, a viticulturist or an orchardist, a consultant or a supplier, leasing farmland or the owner of that land or perhaps you have an interest in the family farm. Whatever position you may hold or interest you may have, if you are in business, you need to engage in business planning throughout the life of your business. The key word here is planning. Poor planning can lead to all sorts of nasty, costly disputes and unforeseen

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Some of you may be thinking “I just want to do my job” or “I just have a small business, I don’t need to plan.” If you’re thinking these things, you are not alone. Several of you may have incorporated your company online or downloaded contracts from the internet and patted yourself on the back for getting it in writing rather than relying on a handshake. As a lawyer, I’ve been asked to handle issues arising from these situations on multiple occasions. Disputes and unfavorable outcomes arising from broken business relationships can be avoided or at least minimized with proper legal planning. A great approach for many of you will be to select a lawyer who can act as a trusted advisor for your business before a problem arises. Ask for referrals, take advantage of complimentary initial meetings and choose a lawyer who is a good match for you and your business. You should feel comfortable with your lawyer and have confidence in their ability to serve you and your business. That lawyer can act as your in-house lawyer for a fraction of the cost of employing a lawyer in your business. Discussions regarding your business, its maintenance and future planning should take place regularly (whether monthly, quarterly or annually). Call your lawyer when you’re structuring your business, entering into a contract, bringing in new partners, protecting your business image, planning to exit your business or whenever you are in need. No reasonable lawyer will tell you to get paid in apples, but they will tell you when your business interests are not protected and help you plan for business success. ■ Western Canada: Ontario & Maritimes: Quebec: British Columbia:

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Denese Espeut-Post is an Okanaganbased lawyer and owns Avery Law Office. Her primary areas of practice include wine and business law. She also teaches the wine law courses at Okanagan College.


Cab Franc Tuesday – East and West friend Brian Schmidt, Vineland Estate VP and Winemaker based in Vineland, Ontario, to blog with me. The result is CabFrancTuesday – a weekly east and west look at the growth of two Cabernet Franc vines.

ing is 8’x 4’ and is Pendelbogon trained (arching the canes over the upper wire and tying to a lower wire). This trellising allows for additional buds to emerge helping to suppress the vine’s vigor.

100% of the leaves in the fruit zone on both sides of the canopy to allow the sun to degrade the naturally occurring pyrazine (green flavours) naturally found in the Cabernet Franc grape.

t has been said that British Columbia winegrowers have more in common with Washington state growers than with fellow Canadian growers in Ontario. Proximity and climate make that true, but I have come to see more commonality with Canadian viticulture, starting with similar varieties to the cold winters and even vine sourcing challenges.

Using the two vines to act as tiny windows into the two growing seasons is, of course, overly simplistic, but my hope is that it could be used as a stepping off point for discussions. The vines can act as a kind of platform for understanding some of the factors that influence decisions made in both regions throughout the growing season.

At Tinhorn Creek there are hot years where we do no leaf removal at all and there are other years, like last year’s cooler vintage, that we have also leaf pulled but only on the east side of the canopy.

Two years ago I began following one single Chardonnay vine on our property to chronicle its season, and blogging the results. I took a picture of the vine and another picture of a cluster every Tuesday from bud break until harvest.

The East vine chosen from Vineland Estate is from its Bo-Teek Vineyard located on the Bench of the Niagara Escarpment. The soil is clay with limestone substrate and has a slight grade facing north toward the Lake Ontario slope. Planted in 1998, the East vine is on SO4 rootstock and clone 327. Vine spac-

The West vine from our winery, Tinhorn Creek, is from our Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. The soil is sand, and more sand, which helps us regulate the vigor on our site. The vineyard is orientated north/south and has a west-facing slope in the middle of it. It was planed in 1995 also on SO4 rootstock, clone 327 and the vine spacing is also 8’x4’. We use three wire Vertical Shoot Positioning training method leaving eight spurs per vine. We both face similar struggles with this variety including vigor control, cropping levels and canopy management. For example, Brian finds that Vineland has to remove

Sandra Oldfield, winemaker and owner of Tinhorn Creek Winery in Oliver. Follow her blog at www.sandraoldfield. com, or on Twitter at #CabFrancTuesday.


I decided to keep up the practice, and this year added a twist by inviting my

Ultimately CabFrancTuesday will end with the decision to harvest and the factors that went into making that decision—another fascinating time to compare notes. Who knows? Perhaps we can take CabFrancTuesday out of the vineyard and into the cellar after that.■

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Your Livelihood Your Life ble to earn a living in such a wonderful place. The relationship residents have with their surroundings can be a bit like the relationship farmers have with their business – an economic drive mixed with emotional connection.


pring in the Okanagan Valley is a special time. The grey valley cloud gradually gives way to the spectacular blue skies that characterize our unbeatable summers. The days become longer and a renewed energy seems to take hold everywhere. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the orchards and vineyards that surround us. Buds are bursting and fruit trees are in full bloom. As spring turns to summer and the tourists arrive, we may complain about the traffic and steady stream of houseguests, but we are secretly proud to show off our gem to visitors from across Canada and around the world. It’s these visitors that drive our economic engine and make it possi-

As a Chartered Accountant, I was trained to focus on numbers, where decision making is boiled down to a number-crunching exercise, and the goals are straightforward: maximize profit and cash flow and minimize tax. These are the technical skills that underpin my profession. Take the emotion out of the equation and focus on what the numbers are telling you. Early on in my career, I started working with farm families. These were mostly grain farmers, with land bases that would easily swallow up 20 or more good-sized Okanagan orchards or vineyards. I learned an important truth about those who choose to earn a living from the land. At the risk of stating

the obvious, farmers don’t farm to get rich. I’ll pause and let that sink in. There is no other industry I can think of where success or failure is so much beyond the control of the business owner. A good farmer will do everything he or she can to mitigate risk, but at the end of the day, weather has the potential to wipe out a promising year in an instant. It could be a late spring freeze that stuns young grapevines or a mid-summer downpour that splits an orchard of perfect cherries. Farmers have learned to take what the land gives them and accept what weather, pests, disease, rising input costs or slumping commodity prices take away. Farmers understand that if the goal is to get rich, they are probably in the wrong business. So why do they do it? It’s at the root of who they are. Rural life somehow seems simpler. It’s a welcome respite from our modern world full of noise and stress, where the pace of life often seems over-

whelming. In the Okanagan, we are seeing more and more baby boomers who have had enough of the rat race and are buying orchards, vineyards and wineries in search of a more relaxing rural (but not too rural) lifestyle. For these folks, wealth and lifestyle preservation is the main focus. Other people continue to farm because they feel a deep connection to the land that may have been in their family for several generations. They feel an obligation to carry on the family farm business and the values it represents. Their wealth comes from the satisfaction of continuing something that their parents started, often with the hope that their children will carry on the tradition. The goal for these farmers is to manage their farm business in a way that is financially sustainable, even if it’s not highly profitable. As the level of risk increases, investors in any business will demand a higher rate of return on their in-

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vestment. Investing your money in a small private business is risky business and that risk level increases considerably when the business is farming. Why then, would anyone want to invest a large amount of money in, say, an estate winery, where returns are traditionally low compared to the large amount of capital required to start up such an operation? When you get beyond the hard numbers, the reasons are quite often emotionally based – a desire to create something special, a passion for wine, a love of the land, the continuation of a tradition, the realization of a lifelong dream. With these broader values in mind, planning options might be acceptable as long as the outcome is a business that is sustainable, if not extremely profitable. What I want to stress is that the traditional goals of business planning (profitability, return on investment) and tax planning (tax minimization) are not necessarily the end goals themselves. We need to keep in the mind the higher level goals and objectives of operating a business, that are often less rational and more emotionally based. This is particularly true in farming. Good advisors will ask the right questions to make sure they truly understand the core values and motivations of their farm clients. Make sure your advisor understands that what drives you to grow fruit or make wine extends far beyond the bottom line. ■ Geoff McIntyre, CA, is a business advisor to the Agrifood industry in the Kelowna office of Meyers Norris Penny. For more information, contact Geoff at 250-763-8919 or

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Grape Harvest Up 28% in 2011 Although it was a barrel sample (the completed wine is set to be released in approximately 18 months), seminar attendees were very impressed with the ripe fruit and depth of the wine.


ith several 2011 wines now on shelves, we know that the quality is excellent, but how much of it is there to go around? Compiled annually, the 2011 BC Wine Grape Crop Report was released in early May and shows a positive trend for consumers wanting more B.C. wines. The 2011 Crop Report shows that the total tonnage* has increased by a whopping 28 per cent over last year from 17,732 tons in 2010 to 22,722 tons in 2011. This may come as a surprise to some as 2011 was certainly one of the coolest vintages on record with just 1,400 growing degree days. It is interesting to note that, according to John Simes, winemaker at Mission Hill Estate Winery in West Kelowna, nearly 50% of the heat, or 685 degree days, were between August 1 and October 1, when it was really needed. Winemakers agree that it is exceptional for the whites, but the 2011 reds are also showing great promise. At a tasting held by the BC Wine Institute this spring, several winemakers from across the province came out to chat about vintage 2011 and showcase some new releases. To no surprise, the whites and rosés, including some outstanding wines from newer wine producing regions like BaillieGrohman in Creston and Fort Berens in Lillooet, all showed exceptionally well, but there was one wine that encouraged a fair bit of discussion: the 2011 Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate SunRock Vineyard Shiraz.

The 2011 BC Wine Grape Crop Report was compiled confidentially by BDO Canada LLP from information collected from 119 wineries across the province. To view the 2011 BC Wine Grape Crop Report, visit

With respect to the 2011 reds, Sandra Oldfield, winemaker and CEO of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver, noted that phenolic ripeness occurred even before the grapes reached optimal sugar levels, which allowed for winemakers to pick earlier and at lower sugar levels which resulted in lower alcohol wines with no loss of flavour development.

*Note: Tonnage reported in short tons. Participation in this survey is voluntary; therefore the tonnages reported here may differ from actual industry tonnages. The BC Wine Institute represents 119 winery members and 17 grapegrowing partners that represent 95% of the province’s total wine production and produce 88% of wine production made from 100% B.C. grapes.

With its recent surge in popularity, it may come as no surprise that Cabernet Franc has entered the top 10 this year. Notably absent is Syrah/Shiraz, having dropped from 7 in 2010 to 11 in 2011.


2011 RANK

2010 RANK




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Pinot Gris



Cabernet Sauvignon



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Bighorns Need our Help

Sheep have different summer and winter habitats, as well as special lambing areas, so small populations do not always adapt well to displacement. For44 Summer 2012

Double-fencing prevents wild sheep from coming into direct contact with domestic sheep.

est density has increased with fire suppression and decreased sheep habitat. Since sheep prefer open country where they can see potential predators, they avoid the densely forested areas. Properties that are fenced can potentially be blocking herds from travelling their regular routes between winter and summer range or foraging and watering sites. Fencing slightly within a property line rather that right at the edge, will leave a small corridor for ungulates to travel along rather than being forced onto roadways. The fences also serve another important purpose by keeping wild sheep away from domestics. Bighorns are susceptible to

Photo by Helmuth Kanduth

California Bighorn Sheep were once distributed widely throughout the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Now, only small populations of wild sheep occur over their historic range, so they are considered a species at risk. Over time, California Bighorn Sheep have lost habitat as our communities and agricultural activities have expanded onto their grassland ranges.

Photo by Margaret Holm


hat do wild sheep and agriculture have in common? In many areas of British Columbia they share the same space, where vineyards, orchards and farms occupy the lower valleys and reach up to the rugged hillsides. California Bighorn Sheep are iconic symbols of the dry interior valleys. Sighting a ram on top of a rocky bluff or a ewe with young by the side of the road reminds me that I’m lucky to live in a community where wild things live along side us. But these wild residents can use some help from people working in agriculture.

diseases, particularly when their nutrition is poor and other factors like human activity, traffic and dogs add stresses. Wild sheep have been shown to be very susceptible to diseases

carried by domestic sheep. Research has shown that even one contact is often followed by fatalities to multiple herds. In the winter of 1999-2000, the South Okanagan herd

suffered a major die-off from bacterial pneumonia which reduced the population by 60 to 75 percent. The population has taken a decade to recover from this episode which was strongly suspected to have started from contact with a domestic sheep flock. Wild and domestic sheep are very curious and will interact with their clovenhoofed cousins. To prevent a serious disease transfer from happening again, for the past three years, wild sheep have been euthanized as a precaution when they are found in contact with domestic sheep. The B.C. Ministry of Environment is asking for the cooperation of people living near bighorn sheep habitat to not raise sheep or goats as pets or livestock. Sheep producers with large commercial flocks are encouraged to erect double fences which prevent “nose to nose” contact. The “Wild/domestic Sheep Separation Project” has been established to inform sheep owners about the danger of contact between the two populations. Two agricultural properties near bighorn sheep habitat have had help to erect double-fencing around

their pastures which keeps the wild and domestic sheep populations away from each other. The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen has adopted a bylaw that, in a designated high risk contact zone (currently only in the South Okanagan), discourages keeping pet sheep and requires any new commercial sheep producers to bear the cost of double fencing. Changes to provincial legislation that are needed to mesh with this initiative are still being considered. We can support wild sheep survival by working with our neighbours and communities to retain areas of natural habitat and sheep movement corridors and keep dogs under control to prevent harassment of sheep and other wildlife. Hopefully healthy bighorn populations can be maintained forever to roam the hillsides and grasslands of the dry interior as symbols of the “wild things” we share our world with. ■ Margaret Holm works at the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance, one of 50 groups working to keep nature in our future in the Southern Interior.

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Maui, Hawaii Not all fruit stands look a like Driving along a very windy road on the way to Hana, this fruit stand was parked near the entrance to a waterfall. Fresh pineapples, coconuts, and their fresh juices were available as well as bananas and mangos.

Photo by Holly Thompson

Trujillo, Peru

46 Summer 2012

The city of fresh and delicious fruit! Juice bars piled high, offering colorful, refreshing concoctions and beautifully displayed. Fruit stands, juice bars and markets are a large part of the Peruvian culture and considered a vital part of the social and economic life in South America. Fresh fruit all day every day!

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Orchard & Vine Magazine Summer 2012  

Jam packed Summer Issue! Meet local growers, a young couple grow an organic farm, Township 7 Winery is choosen as official wine of the 100th...