Orchard & VIne Year End 2019

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Canada's First District Wine Village ALR Concerns Ag Minister Interview Niagara Wine

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Sunset view of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail through orchards and vineyards on the Naramata Bench.

6 Publisher's View – Lisa Olson 8 Calendar

Photo by the Government of BC

9 News & Events 19 Y ear End Interview with Lana Popham BC Minister of Agriculture

21 31

21 2019 Fruit Report Weather Shapes the Season 26 2019 Fruit Survey 30 BC Wine Industry 2019 Year in the Review 34 2019 Wine Survey 38 Facebook Survey on Changes to the ALC 40 Winemakers from the Okanagan to Niagara 46 Safety Tips – Worksafe BC

Photo by the Government of BC

47 Marketing Mix – Leeann Froese


Minister Popham cooking with Chef Nathan Fong at the PNE.

49 Seeds Of Growth – Glen Lucas 51 The Word on Wine – Carie Jones 53 Capturing Innovation in the Vineyard & Cellar Cover photo by Kimberly Brooke Photography, wine from Intrigue Winery

Year End 2019



A Year of Challenges and Achievements


Vol. 60, No 6 Year End 2019

ooking back over another year, one thing I know for sure is that this industry is made up of a passionate bunch of hardworking, heartfelt, and dedicated people making a difference.

Established in 1959 Publisher Lisa Olson

There are so many good things coming about to bring awareness and accessibility to providers of food and wine. Canada’s first ‘village’ of its kind is launching in early 2020. The District Wine Village will house artisans, small batch wine, cider, spirits and beer producers, along with a 600-person entertainment centre. Read more about this exciting development in this issue.

There have been a lot of meetings and discussions over changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve to find out what farmers need to stay on their farm and run viable businesses. I think at this point it’s not necessarily about what has been done in the past as we can learn what doesn’t work. Rather, it’s about what can be done for the future, our future of food and the future of farming. I am hoping that government is listening to all the valuable input from our growers. Can they take what is being said and do what’s best to keep farmers on the farm, producing quality food?

Gary Symons Graphic Design Stephanie Symons Contributors Photo by Kimberly Brooke Photography

The Year End Issue is always an interesting one for us. It’s an opportunity to post questions to you, the reader, to find out what you’ve been up to, how your crops were this year, what’s popular and profitable, along with some of the challenges you’ve faced. We are so grateful for all the valuable information you share with us.


You’ll notice inside this edition that we’ve expanded our annual grower survey to Facebook to get a wider understanding of what growers and other farmers had to say. There were so many responses and comments, we thank everyone who took the time to respond and voice their opinion. 2020 is upon us, that’s going to be a fun year to pronounce aloud, twenty twenty. It’s a new decade, do you have any big changes happening? We invite you to share with us if you like. Happy New Year, enjoy the magazine! ■

Michael Botner, Roslyne Buchanan, Carla Elm, Leeann Froese, Carie Jones, Kimberly Brooke Photography, Glen Lucas, Ronda Payne, Tom Walker, Worksafe BC Advertise lisa@orchardandvine.net Phone: 778-754-7078 Orchard & Vine Magazine Ltd. 22-2475 Dobbin Road Suite #578 West Kelowna, BC V4T 2E9 www.orchardandvine.net Phone: 778-754-7078 Fax: 1-866-433-3349 Orchard & Vine Magazine is published six times a year and distributed by addressed mail to growers, suppliers and wineries in BC and across Canada. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40838008 Undeliverable copies should be sent to: 22-2475 Dobbin Road Suite #578

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 YEAR END | CALENDAR Annual Agri-Food Industry Gala January 29, 2020 Abbotsford, BC www.bcac.bc.ca Pacific Agriculture Show January 30 - Feb 1, 2020 Abbotsford, BC www.agricultureshow.net Islands Agriculture Show February 7 - 8, 2020 Cowichan, BC www.iashow.ca International Fruit Tree Association February 9 -12, 2020 Grand Rapids, Michigan www.ifruittree.org BC Fruit Growers’ Association Annual Convention February 11-12, 2020 Coast Capri Hotel Kelowna, BC info@bcfga.com Oregon Wine Symposium February 11 -12, 2020 Portland, Oregon www.oregonwinesymposium.com Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention February 19 - 20, 2020 Niagara Falls, ON www.ofvc.ca BC Horticulture Symposium February 22, 2020 Trinity Baptist Church Kelowna, BC ponofrechuk@bctree.com Certified Organic Association of BC COABC Conference February 28 – March 1, 2020 Richmond, BC www.certifiedorganic.bc.ca Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers AGM & Trade Show March 2- 5, 2020 Kennewick, WA, USA www.wawinegrowers.org BC Cherry Growers AGM Research and Markets Update March 3, 2020 Ramada Hotel, Kelowna, BC admin@bccherry.com 8

Year End 2019


Wine of the Year Goes to Deep Roots Winery's 2017 Syrah The second annual 2019 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards were announced in October by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, marking the official launch of the 39th Annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival. “This year’s competition broke records in both the number of wines submitted and the number of medals awarded,” says Okanagan Wine Festivals Society Judging Chair, Julian Scholefield. “As this competition grows we look forward to seeing more BC wines be recognized and help us represent the excellence our region has to offer.” This year’s wine entries faced an esteemed panel of judges from across North America and Europe, includ-

ing Barbara Philip, Emily Walker, Geoff Last, Gurvinder Bhatia, Iain Philip, the UK's Jamie Goode, and Rhys Pender, among others. After tasting over 700 wines, the judges awarded a record number of medals to over 100 British Columbia wineries. The Awards also recognized BC wine pioneer, Harry McWatters, by officially changing the name of their Founder’s Award to the Harry McWatters’ Founder’s Award. The award was given to Harry’s family, in recognition of the great contributions Harry McWatters made to the BC wine industry. The 2019 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year went to Deep Roots Winery’s 2017 Syrah.

Winemaker Will Hardman of Deep Roots Winery.

Fort Berens Wins at Whistler Cornucopia Lillooet’s Fort Berens Estate Winery Chardonnay received top honours at the 2019 Whistler Cornucopia Top 20 Wines Competition. Fort Berens Chardonnay 2018 was named Top White Wine in the competition. Rolf de Bruin, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens shared, “We are incredibly humbled to see our Chardonnay recognized as the top white wine at Whistler Cornucopia. To win top white wine in Whistler is a real honour for our entire team.” Rolf explained, “The Chardonnay 2018 is tasting incredible. Made primarily from estate grown

Chardonnay grapes from our Dry Creek Vineyard, this wine was mostly fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, while a smaller portion was fermented in new and neutral French oak barrels. It’s a great wine to pair with roasted chicken, traditional Thanksgiving dinner, or a creamy pasta such as fettuccine alfredo." The win is a big step for Fort Berens, the first and only winery in the Lillooet area, and competing against hundreds of industry heavyweights from more established wine regions in the Okanagan and the Similkameen valleys.

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Turnkey Facility in Oliver to House 16 Artisan Beverage Producers

Renderings of the District Wine Village.

The first village of its kind in Canada, District Wine Village will bring small-batch wine, beer, cider and spirit producers together alongside unique events and creative culinary offerings, all in one exceptional South Okanagan location. Launching in spring 2020, the team at Greyback Construction is excited to introduce District Wine Village. Having been responsible for many prestigious winery builds in the Okanagan, their team saw an opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind village where

small, craft producers can have their own facility, without the need to invest in a full winery operation. District Wine Village offers a turnkey facility for 16 artisan producers to create their own brand with a low capital investment and operational assistance along the way. Each of the 16 individual spaces offers operators a fully equipped production facility, along with access to a shared crush pad and operational resources, as well as a built-in tasting room to build their own brand. In addition to the onsite tasting rooms, District Wine Village

will also feature a 600-person entertainment centre for concerts and events, as well as onsite culinary offerings to give guests a truly distinct taste of the Okanagan. Located at the north end of Oliver, BC, District Wine Vil-

lage will serve as the gateway to Canada’s Wine Capital and is uniquely positioned to bring significant economic development to the region and become a must-see destination for visitors to the region. To learn more about the project, visit DistrictWineVillage.com.

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Top Sparkling Wine Township 7 Vineyards & Winery is delighted to be awarded the Trophy for Best Canadian Sparkling Wine at The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in London, England for the Township 7 Polaris 2016 Sparkling Wine. The CSWWC is the most important international competition dedicated exclusively to sparkling wines, with this year’s Championships seeing a record number of entries and awards. Competing wines were sampled in a blind tasting with the goal is to find those stellar, standout wines in the highly competitive world of champagne and sparkling wine. Township 7 Seven Stars Polaris 2016 was honoured with a Gold by the CSWWC this past summer and Best in Class Canadian Sparkling last evening at the CSWWC award’s ceremony. “We’re blown away to receive this honour for Polaris at the most respected, comprehensive and rigorous international sparkling wine competition in the world,” said Mike Raffan, Township 7 Vineyards & Winery General Manager. We’re proud to be named not only Best Sparkling in Canada but also to be in such stellar company as global champagne powerhouses. Polaris was a finalist in both the Classic Blanc de Blancs category and in the Supreme World Champion category, with Champagne Palmer & Co and Dom Pérignon." ultimately winning those titles.”

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Year End 2019



BC Wines Celebrate International Recognition at Judgment of BC The Wines of British Columbia were put to the ultimate test at the final Judgment of BC on Tuesday, October 29, where special guest and wine expert Steven Spurrier joined 32 top wine professionals from around the world and across the country to take part in a full-day, blind tasting of 24 of BC's celebrated grape varieties; Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah against 16 international benchmarks. The following BC wineries took home top prizes in their categories. Arrowleaf Cellars ranked first among the Pinot Noir flight. Meyer Family Vineyards came in first for the flight of Chardonnay, with 50th Parallel Estate Winery in close second. For the Riesling flight, CedarCreek


Winery came in second with St. Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery coming in third. The final flight of Syrah saw BC wines take all three top spots with Tightrope Winery coming in first, Le Vieux Pin Winery in second and Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard in third. "Chardonnay has struck me in the last few days, Riesling as well, but Syrah is becoming particularly exciting. The thing with Syrah is that it can do well planted up north, but it can also do well in the south and there are very few varietals that can span both." said international wine judge Jaime Goode of Wine Anorak. Hosted by the BC Wine Institute, and curated by Vancouver based wine expert DJ


Kearney, the final Judgment of BC took place in Penticton in the heart of wine country. Inspired by the legendary Judgment of Paris in 1976, the inaugural Judgment of BC was hosted in 2015 by the BC Wine

Institute in honour of Steven Spurrier's visit to British Columbia. Five years later, the BC wine industry was thrilled to welcome Steven Spurrier of Decanter Magazine back to BC wine country.

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Valleys of Wine, a History of the BC Industry Valleys of Wine is the first comprehensive history of BC wine since the early 1980s, and a mustread for anyone interested in the history of BC’s wine industry! Wine in BC has never been more popular and the domestic wine industry never stronger. Yet the industry’s history is short and relatively unknown. Like the terroir of a grapevine that translates to

unique flavours in the finished wine, BC’s geological and cultural histories are the roots of the modern wine industry, from the first taxes on alcohol, through Prohibition, to the province’s first government sponsored winery. Written by Luke Whittall, best known for his podcast and blog called “Wine Country BC." Luke has worked in BC’s wine industry

since 2005 and also written numerous articles. He teaches several courses at Okanagan College including: the Wine Sales Certificate, Food and Wine Pairing and BC Wine History. The book is ideal for wine consumers, growers or winemakers, to better understand how the BC's wine industry evolved.


CAWSTON 25 acres freehold organic orchard & primarily class 1 vineyard land in Cawston. Spacious 3300 sf (approx) home, bunk house, original farm house, packing shed, greenhouse & fencing for horses. Two wells + gravity fed irrigation from 2 water licenses. MLS® $ 2,200,000

SE KELOWNA 14.17 acre orchard estate with expansive pastoral, lake, city & mountain views, with an impressive main home + 2 farm help dwellings. Turn-key meticulous farm comes with a complete equipment package & a productive apple orchard with modern varieties. MLS® $2,890,000

LAKE COUNTRY SW Profitable turn-key greenhouse operation, retail store & solid 1500 sf rancher home with caretaker suite & unfinished basement on almost 10 acres of ALR land. Lakeview, highway frontage, strategically located within 10 mins of the Kelowna Airport. MLS® $1,999,000

LAKE COUNTRY SW Established fruit stand & almost 10 acres of irrigated orchard land strategically situated between Shanks Road & Highway 97 in Lake Country. Mixed mature & older orchard with cherries, peaches, nectarines, apples etc. Fourplex and farm house. MLS® $1,750,000

OLIVER 10 acres of peaches, prune plums and gala apples. Approx. 6 acres very well suited to vineyard. 380’ of highway frontage. 2 bay fruit stand w/3 piece bathroom and separate shop. Attached storage room w/ farm machinery storage below. 4 bdr home. High production well. MLS® $1,389,000

LC/OYAMA Views of Wood & Kalamalka lakes! 9.25 acre modern apple orchard. Wellmaintained, freshly reno’d 2 suite home, affordable taxes, desirable location. Close to beaches, parks, rail trail, elementary school & corner store. 20 min from Airport & UBC-O. Oversize single garage/workshop. MLS® $1,749,000

SE KELOWNA 4432 sf estate home on 12.27 acres prime overlooking vineyards, Okanagan lake & mountains. Lutron RA2 Google smart home. Soaring ceilings, cultured stone, extravagant gas fireplace, open concept layout & luxe master suite. Loft designed as 2 bed B&B. Bright basement with kitchen & 2 bedrooms. MLS® $1,999,000

LAKE COUNTRY SW Panoramic Wood and Kalamalka lake views from this 9.3 acre orchard estate property. Productive high & medium density apple orchard, 24’2x50’ 3 bay. Enjoy low taxes with farm status. Lovely rural country setting just 10 mins to Lake Country’s many amenities. MLS® $1,395,000

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BC Funds Wine, Food and Beverage Projects By Ronda Payne BC’s wine sector will soon have its first industry resource guide aimed at new vineyards and wineries to arm them with information to create great wine from the vineyard to the bottle.

Once produced, the guide will be updated as needed and will include information on grape and wine industry resources, business operations, considerations prior to entering the industry, and regulatory agency information. This announcement came on the heels of the October 25, $2.58 million funding presentation at UBC for a new food and beverage innovation center at the university. The money, to be provided over three years, will create an endowment fund for the center as well as Anubhav Singh’s brand new professorship as BC’s first professor of food and beverage innovation. UBC was ranked number one for agriculture and forestry programs in Canada in 2019 by Top Universities, and according to Rickey Yada, Dean of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, the food science program is ranked in the top 100 worldwide.

Photo by the Government of BC

On October 26, the Provincial government announced $30,000 in funding to create the guide, expected to be available in 2020 on the BC Wine Grape Council website.

The funding presentation at UBC for a new food and beverage innovation center.

Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham was on-hand to make the announcement about the center, which will fall within Yada’s department, and to congratulate Singh on his appointment. “It’s a system where the center will be providing timely information to the sector,” Popham says. The innovation center is an integral part of the province’s Food Hub Network program which began with the Vancouverbased Commissary Connect kitchen and is being added to with announcements about funding for similar hubs in Quesnel, Port Alberni and Surrey. Funding for additional Food Hub locations are expected to be announced as

studies on the best locations continue. The food and beverage center will focus on improving processing technology, creating new products, developing talent for the industry and becoming a conduit to share information with processors involved in the Food Hub Network. This will enable two-way communication about new discoveries, challenges to be explored and successes. “We are very, very grateful for how this investment will pave the way for future innovations and beyond,” says UBC president and vice-chancellor Santa J. Ono. Of Singh, he says, “I’m confident that his research will strengthen existing ties with industry and establish new partnerships.”

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2780 Camp Rd, Lake Country 2.97 acre hobby farm w/ outbuildings & home. Planted to cherries & gardens. $999,000

Oyama Lake Rd, Lake Country 50.7 acres of rurally zoned land with great views, subdivision potential + more. $1,795,000

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E & OE: Information is deemed correct but not guaranteed


New Agriculture Waste Regulations By Tom Walker If you are a fruit grower who lives outside ‘the Lower Rainland’ you may not have paid too much attention to the former Agriculture Waste Control Regulations. But that needs to change. With the passing of the new Agriculture Environmental Management Code of Practice or “AEMCoP” for short, there are new regulations that apply to all fruit growers across the province and some that are specific to certain areas, not just high precipitation zones. The BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) is leading the drive to educate all farmers, with meetings, workshops and resources. “We are really trying to get the message out there that everyone needs to look at this,” says BC Ag Council Communications Manager Cassy Jones. BCAC has prepared a dedicated AEM site https://bcac. ca/aemcop/, which includes commodity specific summaries that include links for growers to get further details. There are three categories of regulations, some that you should have begun practicing when the legislation came in February 2019, some that begin this fall, and some that will be phased in after July 15, 2023. Starting this last spring, growers should have been keeping records to verify nutrient management practices, including recording crop nutrient requirements, yields, soil tests, and nutrient application rates. Nutrient sources need to be applied at rates that meet but do not exceed crop requirements and applications need

to follow new set-back rules near a water course or a ditch that drains into one. Starting this fall, post-harvest soil testing of both nitrate and phosphorus is mandatory if your farm is two hectares (five acres) or larger. Application of nitrogen and phosphorus November to January is restricted if you are located in a high precipitation area but may be permitted with a risk assessment October, February and March. There are also rules about covering temporary field-stored piles, including byproducts and wood residue in high precipitation areas but also during high risk conditions anywhere in the province. “Those really aren’t very onerous,” says Glen Lucas, General Manager of the BC Fruit Growers Association. “If you are a good grower you are already managing your nutrients, keeping records (for Food Safe) and doing soil tests anyway.” Where Lucas takes exception are regulations proposed for 2023, which will require nutrient management plans depending on your soil tests, if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area (lots in the Okanagan, Creston, Cranbrook, South Island, and the Fraser Valley), or a “phosphorus affected area,” which covers the entire south-central interior, Lower Mainland and all of Vancouver Island. “They have really expanded the phosphorus sensitive areas from what we originally were told,” says Lucas. “We are looking at the science they are using to support that and will be discussing our concerns.”

Year End 2019



New CEO for BC Tree Fruits By Ronda Payne

After the significant changes at BC Tree Fruits, he wants to move the co-op towards “consistent, sustainable returns going forward.”

The BC Tree Fruits Cooperative hopes the end has finally come for its recent fluctuation in leadership, as newly appointed CEO Warren Sarafinchan becomes the fourth CEO of the organization since Alan Tyabji left the position in October 2016. Sarafinchan plans to create consistency for the grower-owned co-operative along with a greater sense of togetherness. “I’ve worked in an industry where we’ve experienced significant growth,” he says. “I’ve also worked in places where things needed to be fixed; and I’ve done that.” Sarafinchan’s more than 25 years in consumer-packaged goods saw him fulfill management roles in sales, operations and most significantly in supply chain management. He was on the executive

“I’ve got the experience to do that,” he adds. Sarafinchan’s experience in the consumer alcoholic beverage space can also benefit BC Tree Fruits cidery, Broken Ladder. New CEO Warren Sarafinchan.

team of Sun-Rype Products Ltd. and also held leadership roles with Mars Wrigley Canada Ltd., Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and Labatt Breweries of Canada. “I’ve led almost every function in a business,” Sarafinchan notes. Of his new role, he says he plans to find ways to “bring everyone together. How we come together to fix this, to find solutions that work for everybody.”

“The cider business is one that’s interesting to me,” he says. “It’s a bit of a coming back home to a category that I know quite well.” Overall, growers can expect short and long-term planning under Sarafinchan’s leadership at BC Tree Fruits. This will be based on a holistic view of the organization to identify ways to increase revenues, reduce operating costs and improve grower returns.

Mahindra Tractor Celebrates 25 Years in Western Canada Handlers Equipment in Abbotsford is proud to be celebrating with Mahindra their 25 years in North America. Since 1963, Mahindra has been building heavyduty farm tractors and farm equipment.

to be the toughest tractor on Earth and we are looking forward to another 25plus years as a North American Dealer.” said Joel Venema, Agriculture Sales with Handlers.

Handlers has been a dealer for the last 12 years and since joining the rising team of Mahindra dealers worldwide, Handlers has annually received multiple awards from Mahindra including the top Sales in Western Canada Award, consecutively since 2012. “We are so proud to be representing such an established, quality brand of tractor. Mahindra has proven

"Handlers is available to help you choose the best implementation package for your needs," he adds, "whether it’s digging trenches, moving rocks, dirt or materials, Mahindra products help you transform the land you own into the land you love." For further information http://www. handlersequipment.com

Joel Venema, Agriculture Sales with Handlers Equipment.

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GLB Wine Packaging a Winner

A BC-based company won big in fall packaging competitions for corrugated, folding carton and labels. Great Little Box Company Ltd. (GLBC) has won 1st place and the coveted Judge’s Choice award in two categories at the AICC’s 2019 Independent Packaging Design Competition. This biannual event features a variety of packaging categories providing a wider reach into the entire packaging market and idea diversity. GLBC’s design for the Liquidity Estate Winery's four bottle wine carrier not only won first place, but the Judge’s Choice Award in the category of Corrugated – Innovative Structural Design, Consumer and Industrial Focus. In this category judges not only consider the design’s ease of assembly and set up, the quality and converting complexity but how the packaging met the customer’s needs. For this project Liquidity was looking for a more attractive solution than the standard paper bag for carrying out purchased wines. It also needed to subtly but successfully upsell by encouraging tasters to fill it with four wines, but also the beautiful design gives it a second life as a marketing tool. The overall design ensured it accommodated and protected the various bottle shapes and sizes of Liquidity’s entire product offering.

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Jeremy Siddall District Vice President - Pacific Agriculture Services British Columbia 250-681-4656 jeremy.siddall@td.com

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THINKING OF OPENING A CIDERY? Check out the Buyers Guide in the Spring Issue. Find professional services, supplies and equipment.

Find equipment and professional services in Orchard & Vine Magazine To advertise or subscribe contact us today 778-754-7078 lisa@orchardandvine.net 18 Year End 2019

Year-end Interview with BC’s Minister of Agriculture O&V caught up with Minister Popham the third week of October, just as the legislature went into the Fall session. As in previous years, we found the Minister remains enthusiastic about the state of farming in BC, as she reports back on the progress of government programs to increase revenue and jobs in the agricultural sector.

By Tom Walker

O&V "How has the year been for fruit growers?”

“Well, every year the growing season is a bit unique and I think we saw some challenges with weather events this year for sure. The cherry growers were hit pretty hard at the beginning of their season and we saw split cherries. There was too much rain at some times and not enough at other times. Overall, it’s been not bad and of course the bright light this summer was that we didn’t have any of the forest fires that affected crops the year before. The public is just enamoured with our farmers these days, so as far as selling domestically, those stats are looking really good this year.”

O&V “Have cherry growers been able to make insurance claims?”

Minster Popham “We did have to take advantage of business risk management programs for cherries, but I think growers were happy with the response from the Ministry. The Ministry is really involved on the ground. We have the biggest budget that we have ever had and that allows us to be more hands on in our communities, including assisting growers with applications.”

O&V “Are there projects approved through the Tree Fruits Competitiveness Fund that you are particularly positive about?”

Photo by the Government of BC

Minster Popham

BC Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham pals around with a llama at the PNE.

Well, anytime you take on anything around the Agricultural Land Reserve it’s controversial and never completely smooth. Lana Popham Minister Popham

that you will be able to continue to support the program?”

“There are some that are in the hopper right now. I know that there is a project designed around marketing Salish which I am very keen on. Since we launched our buy BC program I am looking for every single way we can market our products domestically, where we have a really big focus, and of course internationally.”

Minister Popham

“There are also funds for supporting excellence in growing Ambrosia (apples). There have been trials this year in using “Extenday”, a reflective fabric that can enhance the coloring of Ambrosia apples as they ripen.”

O&V “Are you happy how the replant for tree fruits has gone so far? Do you anticipate

“I think that conversation is on-going. There are still two years left in the fund, so we are not under the gun. It has historically been supported and as long as there is a case being made for it, I can see that it will continue. Because it has been so successful for the fruit tree industry, we do have other commodities that are interested in a replant program as well. One example is the raspberry industry, who have had a lot of struggles over the last few years. Cheap imports are a problem for them and they really need to change out to the type of varieties that appeal well to consumers and store well in retail situations. We haven’t had a reYear End 2019


plant program for raspberries, but the raspberry growers have heard about the apple growers, so we might have to look at that.” “We also convened a table with the wine industry and grapegrowers last year to talk about a grower’s resource guide that would address business skills, regulations, sustainable growing and viruses and how do you plan for replanting a certain variety when it is needed. We just announced $30,000 to support that.” Photo by the Government of BC

O&V “You made an announcement in Penticton in March about hospital procurement and Feed BC. How has that developed over the year?”

Minister Popham “I can tell you that the Penticton hospital is using more BC product and fruit is on the list of products that hospitals use. Northern Health was buying frozen meals outside of BC, but the Penticton hospital has a kitchen that is producing and sourcing from BC farmers, and Northern Health is now buying almost 6,000 frozen meals a month from Interior Health.” “Any region that has a hospital or longterm care facility, they all have a food system built within them, so we are just trying to match up growers and processors to feed into those systems.” “The new regional food hubs that we have been developing will further support this. For example, the food hub announced for Quesnel at the beginning of August, will be able to tie in to the brand-new Quesnel hospital kitchen, as an easy place to source.” At some time we will sit down with producers and the hospital and have a crop planning meeting with the nutritionists and Northern Health and say what products do you need in the hospital? “Feasibility studies have been completed for a hub in Salmon Arm/ North Okanagan and in Summerland/South Okanagan. There could also be a place for a proposal for a berry specific hub in the Fraser valley.” “We can’t write into policy that health authorities have to buy a certain amount of BC food, but the way we are setting things up it just becomes easy to do, and 20 Year End 2019

The Minister at the Robson Safeway store, the first location to showcase the Buy BC brand.

that is really the value of all of us working together; the public thinks it’s a nobrainer.”

O&V “You have been holding public engagement sessions on the ALR across the province. What sort of feedback are you hearing?”

Minister Popham “Well, anytime you take on anything around the Agricultural Land Reserve it’s controversial and never completely smooth. We are calling this a revitalization process. What we did find is that there is a lot of misinformation around our bills 52 and 15, so we are trying to keep up with factual information rather than chasing the myths and misinformation that ends up on social media.” “I decided it would be better to go around to communities in BC and do some myth busting and open up sessions so that farmers and stake holders and the general public could come in and ask questions. With this type of meeting, people come in a little bit hot. My assistant deputy James Mack, the chair of the ALC and my staff are there, so if somebody has a question, you have a comprehensive team there to answer.” “We are finding that people are getting correct information at those meetings

and I think most people think the stuff that we are doing is reasonable, but the good news is we are open to making changes along the way and that is another valuable part of these open sessions.” “Bill 52 addresses dumping fill, for example. Well, we learned that people with a long driveway in a wet area may have to put gravel on their drive annually and under the bill there would be a notice of intent and perhaps a fee attached to it. Maybe we need to tweak that. That feedback is so valuable, and I hope people will understand at the end of this that we were very open to listen and that the changes you will see by regulation will respect that listening experience.”

O&V Anything you would like to add?

Minister Popham “Our second annual “Every Chef Needs a Farmer, Every Farmer Needs a Chef” will run November 12. We have over 400 people registered including 50 chefs. A lot of partnerships came out of this event last year. I just think it is one more way to make sure that agriculture is foremost in consumers’ minds, especially in the Mower Mainland.” “That day is going to be like the best day of my life. It is so exciting.”■

2019 Fruit Report Weather Shapes the Season

By Ronda Payne Weather always plays a major role in the fruit season, but in 2019 it seemed to make up the entire cast of characters including both heroes and villains. Mother Nature played games with fruit growers in 2019 and in most cases, they were the types of games that are far from fun. She threw out positives and negatives to the point that many growers didn’t know if they were coming or going and ultimately everyone was left exhausted and happy to put the season behind them.

Photo by Kimberly Brooke Photography

Having had just about every kind of weather possible in the growing and harvest seasons of the last five years (extreme heat, extreme cold, fire, smoke, hail and more) it would seem nothing could surprise growers. But as Orchard & Vine spoke to experts about this year’s yields, fruit quality, pests and more, it was apparent Mother Nature still had tricks up her sleeves. Cherry growers were on non-stop alert, stone fruit growers had a damaging early frost and raspberries dealt with a late harsh winter that has put the fruit’s future in jeopardy. Find out more about how these and other fruits fared in this 2019 fruit recap.

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Cherry growers really had a challenge. It just rained and rained and rained… Some varieties have 70 per cent lost. Penny Gambell Tree Fruits Cherries down by as much as 50% Cherry grower Penny Gambell of Gambell Farms in Lake Country says the season was tiring with the constant need for fans and helicopters to combat the rain on a near daily basis. “It just never let up,” she says. It was a far cry from the expectations at the outset of the season according to Warren Sarafinchan, CEO with BC Tree Fruits. “When the season started, there was a healthy level of optimism that the crop was going to be good,” he says. Hardest hit were Gambell’s favourite types of cherries, the older varieties like Van. She estimates their orchard lost up to about 40 per cent of the crop. These losses are unfortunately about average for cherry growers this year given what Hank Markgraf, consultant through Hank’s Horticulture, has seen. He notes that the season was already challenged in early spring when pollination and bud set weren’t as high as they have been in the past and yields were being estimated at a 10 to 15 per cent decline. Then, the

rains came. About 35 mm in July according to Sarafinchan, which is highly abnormal given July 2018’s two mm. “Cherry growers really had a challenge. It just rained and rained and rained. It kind of let up in August,” Sarafinchan explains. “Some varieties have 70 per cent lost. Skeena was the main one like that.” With the rain tap running continuously, cherry split was inevitable and growers found battling the water to be a daily struggle. Gambell says that while her son is used to having to dry the fruit from rain fall, doing it every day became exhausting. However, the fruit that did make it through the rains was of good quality. “Yes, they were firm, nice cherries,” she says, but adds that they didn’t command an increased price. She notes that some growers were trying to sell fruit of varying quality so those with lower quality and lower prices kept the overall prices down at their usual amount despite the higher losses. Markgraf notes that some growers were lucky enough to garner higher prices due to the drop in available fruit. “It’s difficult to deal with on a daily basis,” says Markgraf of the rain. “It just got really tiresome. It wears you down. It’s a lot to ask a piece of fruit to be blowdryed by a helicopter that many times.”

Photos contributed

While SWD was a minor issue (so long as growers sprayed and timed it right), the warm, wet weather caused an increase in powdery mildew that was hard for some to stay on top of. It was a balancing act between spraying for pests and disease and drying the trees and fruit.

Hank Markgraf in the field. 22 Year End 2019

Penny Gambell on the farm with her son Andrew and his two

Fewer cherries were shipped to China than in past years and European sales were down, but overall cherry acreage is on the rise creating optimism for future seasons. Stone fruits hit by early frost

“It really hurt the cherry business,” Sarafinchan says of the resulting cherry split. “Our volumes were down north of 20 per cent. In fact, it was closer to 30 per cent.”

Stone fruit growers have been declining in numbers for a while and that continued into the 2019 season.

The level of losses varied depending upon orchard varieties and location but overall the growers worked very hard to create a decent season despite the losses.

While the acreage for peaches and nectarines has remained relatively stable, the number of acres for prunes, plums and apricots have dropped. This year il-

As Markgraf puts it, “It’s a difficult crop.”

powdery mildew pressure, though not at the levels seen by cherry growers. Cherries are favoured by many who have pulled out of stone fruits, but Markgraf says cherries are both easier in some ways and harder in others to grow. He sees room for more peaches and nectarines in the market, though it’s unlikely there will be an apricot revival any time soon. According to Sarafinchan, prune volumes were about the same as last year despite the frost. “Those that do it, do it well,” summarized Markgraf of the stone fruit growers season. Late season for apples and pears With the rain hitting early in September and not letting up, apples and pears were challenged to get the usual bright, bold colours on their skins, which pushed harvest for many varieties out by a week or even two in some cases. The lateness hasn’t caused too many issues overall however. Apples are experiencing a slightly larger than average crop. “It’s been an interesting season for sure,” says Markgraf. “We started off with a cool spring, which really didn’t affect the apples too much. Then it got cold, right after.” Of course the rain that cause so much damage in cherries didn’t fall exclusively on cherry orchards. Apples and pears saw their fair share of it, but the impact was minimal except for the need to stay on top of diseases and pests that are wetclimate lovers.

lustrated how challenging the stone fruit crop can be with an early frost that took about 70 to 80 per cent of the apricot yield, reduced the plum volumes and impacted peaches to a lesser degree. Because of the limited supply and reduction in growers, pricing for stone fruits continues to rise. “If you could have apricots this year, you could probably sell them for whatever you wanted,” Markgraf says. “Nectarines were down, but okay.” Pests like SWD weren’t the issue they have been in the past, but there was

Fruit size and quality has been good as well, despite the experience of growers who received a healthy dose of hail and unfortunately had to take their crop straight to juice, but Markgraf says, that was the exception, rather than the norm. Fire blight was a significant issue growers had to stay on top of, but there were few other pests or diseases Markgraf notes. “We definitely were working through fire blight and we don’t have that many controls,” he says. “Not everybody had it. We had to time our sprays – the few that we do have – just perfectly. We had to do a lot of cutting.” Apple scab was kept under control, but one pest Sarafinchan notes as being a concern is codling moth. Codling moth causes a small scab-like dot which is actually excretion caused from the larvae tunneling into the fruit allowing for bacteria and disease to set in to the core during storage. Apple acreage remains relatively flat overall, though Markgraf notes there is a continued shift from older varieties to new ones like Ambrosia. Pricing is expected to stay about the same as it was last year although BC growers are likely to be impacted by what he calls “one of the biggest crops Washington state has ever produced.” Pear growers experienced a successful season despite facing similar challenges to that of apple growers. However, pear

“The wet season continued,” he says. “Probably one of the wettest ones I can recall in a long time. It just continued. Growers had to be on top of their fungicide throughout the season, more so than they have had to in past seasons.” While the fruit ultimately made out okay, the rain did put pressure on growers according to Sarafinchan. “I’m really happy with how everybody has worked together to get the crop in,” He says. “It was a year unlike others they’ve seen.”

Photo by Eric Simard - Dreamstime.com

daughters Mackenzie and Maddison.

ger than last year, about 10, maybe 15 per cent, more than last year.”

The work to harvest was done in “fits and starts” between the rain rather than over several consecutive days as it usual is done. It was a challenge, says Markgraf. “We’ve got a good crop,” he says. “Big

Year End 2019


acreage is quite small comparatively and D’Anjous were down in yield slightly. “The remaining guys did a pretty fantastic job with it, so that’s our bright spot there actually,” Markgraf says of pears, which had less of an issue with fireblight. “It was a pretty clean, smooth year for pears. Overall, beautiful size, good crop.”

Raspberries had as hard of a season as cherries, though in this case, the weather incident happened long before harvest and improved as the summer approached. In February a cold snap hit the Meeker variety, and a few other types of raspberries hard, to the point that some growers were expecting a near wipe out of the crop. Fortunately, many of the canes rebounded in the late spring and were able to produce a modest crop, down by about 30 per cent of usual volumes. Cold comfort to growers who were expecting a bumper crop year. James Bergen, chair of the Raspberry Industry Development Council and part of the family behind Bergen Farms notes the weather issues may lead some growers to consider crop insurance. “Several pulled out their fields that had significant winter damage this fall,” he says. “A weather event like this has not happened in at least 10 years and we have had some other extreme weather in between, such as in 2018 when we had freezing rain that coated every raspberry

Photo by the Government of Canada

Berries Winter blasted raspberries

Jati Sidhu, former Member of Parliament, Mission Matsqui Fraser Canyon, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and David Mutz at the federal investment announcement at Berry Haven Farm on July 4, 2019.

cane in a layer of ice.” He feels the mild January may have brought some plants out of dormancy only to be damaged by the extreme low temperatures of February. David Mutz of Berry Haven Farm noted it ended up being much better than expected at harvest than when the winter damage revealed itself. “Still a lighter crop, but not as devastating as was expected,” he says. “Unfortunately, the market is still not great for raspberries.”

Growers who had newer, stronger varieties made it through the winter okay, like those of Alf Krause of Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery. However, there were some pests. “The quality was great overall,” Krause says. “Similar pest pressures. SWD and more yellow rust than usual.” Growers found that the quality of berries was good in spite of the challenges. Krause sees the berry breeding program as the bright light for raspberry growers. New varieties suited for the Fraser Valley’s climate will deliver quality and volume, so the provincial and federal government’s funding (announced earlier in 2019) into the breeding of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries will go a long way. However, Bergen notes it will be a few years before any of the promising varieties are available to growers.

Photos contributed

“The raspberry industry will likely continue to see a decline in acreage in the coming years and with that, overall yield,” Bergen says. “Fields that are coming out are older fields, across many different varieties and it appears many are being replanted into other crops, but mainly blueberries. I expect to see a further decline in acreage in the coming years unless there is an increase in the return price to the growers.” James Bergen, chair of the Raspberry Industry Development Council. 24 Year End 2019

Grant Keefer of Yellow Point Cranberries.

Estimates put raspberry production at

Weather didn’t impact strawberries the way it did many other fruits. The only damper from Mother Nature was the early September rains which essentially ended the harvest of everbearing fruit.

Photo by Valentin Balan - Dreamstime.com

“It put a premature end to the season in early September,” said Bergen of the rain. “We grow Albion at our farm and with our second year field, we had our best crop in the last five years. Quality was great and yield higher than average.” Mutz noted that pests were manageable with “the usual suspects, thrips, lygus.” Everbearing fruit seems to be bolstering strawberries stability in that September can bring enthusiasm around local berries again, like the first May or June push into the market.

Cranberries stay consistent It would have been nearly impossible for cranberries to have had the same season they had in 2018 with the massive bumper crop (1.3 million barrels) experienced by BC growers, so 2019 is expected to finish down from last year. Plants simply can’t produce at those volumes year over year. Grant Keefer of Yellow Point Cranberries and treasurer of the BC Cranberry Growers Association says that warm October weather and new varieties like Crimson Queen and Demoranville helped growers get berries out before Thanksgiving and reach the optimal TAcy fruit colour rating preferred by Ocean Spray. Ocean Spray buys about 95% of the fruit from BC’s 78 growers. Mike Dance, agriculture operations area manager with Ocean Spray agrees, noting that growers who have established new varieties are seeing good performance. “We had a real cold spell in February that may have affected some of our yield,” Dance says. “We think we lost some of our product at that time.” He adds that the colder growing season in early summer set things back a little, but overall quality was good with no excessive pests of note. He says that while

some growers are pulling out the traditional Stevens variety, others are still seeing good performance from it. “From a regional perspective, I think in the short haul, there will be areas for growers to improve on their farms and we see them doing that,” he says. “I think BC is setting themselves up for the long haul. We see growers doing a lot of good things out there.” Keefer agrees, stating, “Fruit quality seems fine in the fields from what I hear, but there are always improvements that can be made.” Cranberry acreage in 2018 was 6,382 acres down from the 6,650 acres noted by Statistics Canada for 2017, but up from previous years. Strawberries have a successful year

Blueberries continue to grow Before blueberries ripened, growers were treated to the International Blueberry Organization’s Summit in June, 2019 in Richmond, BC. Anju Gill, executive director with the BC Blueberry Council notes that the event brought the global blueberry industry to BC. “This gave BC growers an opportunity to hear from and engage with fellow growers and experts from around the globe on the state of the blueberry industry,” she says.

Strawberries seem to have held their own in 2019. With overall crops at approximately 50 per cent everbearing and 50 per cent June bearing (and shifting to more everbearing) according to Krause, it was a good growing season with above average crop yields for most growers. “The importance of the fresh June crop is very significant,” he says. “It signals the start of summer and really the first fruit of the season. The joy of the everbearing is that the crop is a little earlier than the June strawberry to get the ball rolling, but it does create marketing frustration in August when all the other berries and fruits are available as well.”

Photos contributed

just 13,000,000 pounds this year harvested from about 2,000 acres. Some feel acreage might drop even lower when the dust settles. The rains of September put an end to a disappointing season.

Acreage of strawberries has remained stable at about 500 acres after a number of years of being pulled out. Some growers are experimenting with high-volume plantings and are achieving great results. Despite the light acreage, estimates are at about 2,000,000 pounds of fruit for the 2019 season.

Anju Gill, executive director with the BC Blueberry Council. Year End 2019


2019 Orchard & Vine Fruit Survey

We Asked & You Answered What types of fruit do you grow?

What crop produced the best for you this year?

Blueberries 43%

Blueberries 35%

Cherries 30%

Cherries 26%

Apples 26%

Apples 17%

Strawberries 26%

Peaches 13%

Vegetables 22%

Table Grapes 9%

Other* 17%

Plums 9%

Grapes (table) 13%

Strawberries 9%

Peaches 13%

Vegetables 9%

Pears 13%

Apricots 4%

Plums 13%

Nectarines 4%

Raspberries 13%

Pears 4%

Nectarines 8%

Raspberries 4%

Apricots 4%

Niche Berries 4%

Niche Berries 4%

Other* 4%

*Other: Gooseberries, currants, pumpkins, haskap berries, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and rare fruit, vegetables and medicinal plants.

From the event, Gill’s takeaway includes four key points: New varieties, regions and methods will deliver fresh blueberries throughout the year; competition will force growing regions to produce better blueberries; technology will reduce costs and increase efficiencies; and logistics of shipping berries will continue to challenge the industry.

though Gill noted that the cycling weather of dry days, rain and cool days increased both disease and pest pressures on the plants and fruit.

Despite the fact that BC’s overseas export of blueberries is still in its infancy, Gill notes that by the end of August approximately 51 million pounds of fresh and frozen berries were exported. This ties into BC’s overall expected yield of 190 million pounds for 2019, which is higher than the three-year average of 155 million pounds. An increase number of growers, more acreage, young plantings reaching full potential and a range of other factors contributed to the increased yield.

Currently blueberry acreage is sitting at about 30,000 acres which is more than double what BC had just a decade ago.

Krause expected the late winter freeze that nearly crippled raspberries to have a negative impact on blueberries, but was happy to find that his own farm’s yield was up, despite the threat. “For us, the crop was up and good quality,” he says. “The crop timing found some gaps in the market and stabilized the price. The industry is expanding on variety selection to spread out the season.” Mutz found that the season got rolling a little earlier than most growers expected. “That put some people behind, given the large crop,” he explains. “And some had quality issues. Up and down, some areas got significantly more rain in July.” Fortunately pest pressures were relatively low, even with SWD, 26 Year End 2019

New varieties aren’t yet leading to renovations to fields but Mutz predicts some of the Elliott variety may be coming out in favour of newer varieties in future years.

Grapes Slower to ripen and yield down slightly Not surprisingly, the weather in 2019 wasn’t as conducive to grapes as it has been in previous years, but it certainly wasn’t a blow-out terrible year either. Similar to what was encountered by other fruit growers, the season was much more challenging than usual. Mary McDermott, winemaker with Township7 Vineyards & Winery and board member with the BC Wine Grape Council notes that the rain in September led to botrytis and sour rot issues. “And grapes swelled and then started to break down with all the rain,” she says. “Powdery mildew was also a factor, but as most of the rain occurred after sugar accumulation, it was only a factor if it was already present.” The same problems occurred in the Fraser Valley growing region as in the interior regions which made things even more difficult for growers in Langley and other parts of the Lower Mainland where conditions often lead to a need for increased management practices.

How do your crop yields compare to previous years? UP 35% • DOWN 22% • THE SAME 39%


How do your sales compare to previous years? UP 18% • DOWN 45% • THE SAME 32%

Do you use the BC DAS (Decision Aid System) from OKSIR ?

What has been the biggest challenge or accomplishment in 2019?

The BC Decision Aid System (BC DAS) is an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) decision support system for Okanagan tree fruit growers and pest managers. It provides easyto-use pest management programs and helps to optimize management decisions for certain insects and diseases.

The big accomplishment was gaining full access to the Japanese market. 2019 was our first year of exports to Japan.

BC DAS collects daily weather data from the local Okanagan weather network along with forecast data to create insect and disease population charts linked with management and pesticide recommendations. https://ca.decisionaid.systems/

THE WEATHER Climate change. Weather was a huge challenge this year.

14% Use BCDAS 82% Don't use it or haven't heard of it.

Getting the wine grapes to mature in a very poor September and October.

Do you use any other industry specific software or apps for your farm management or agriculture use?


18% Use apps PRICES Low prices. Over production of berries. “Weather was a big factor as picking schedules had to be carefully managed as rain delayed picks,” McDermott says. “Most growers were flexible and if they had the opportunity would spray to prevent any further problems.”

Pricing for fruit does not allow for reinvestment into property. PESTS

Unfortunately, red grapes took the brunt of Mother Nature as she turned the heat down and the water up. Whites and early reds did fine (although faced some picking challenges), but the bigger, bolder red wine grapes had to wait for better weather to get sugars up higher.

The clear wing moth. GOVERNMENT REGULATION NDP and ALR rule changes with absolute zero consultation.

“In my personal experience, yields were down somewhat,” she says. “Some of that is because of the viticulture practices that we used on our own vineyards. Growers who had larger crops tended to get into some trouble as the cooler summer and wet fall did not allow for complete ripening.”

Establishing a Cidery. Big problems with government taxation and regulation. Trying to live off the farm. We need more flexibility to sell value added and agritourism.

Township7’s Langley-based vineyards were at an average yield, but Lower Mainland vineyards faced the same challenges in harvesting around the rain. Fortunately, McDermott feels the quality of grapes is good both in the interior regions and in the Lower Mainland despite the difficulties.

Labour and government bureaucracy. We would like to sell direct from our farm by having a small restaurant that would feature produce from our farm.

“I am pleasantly surprised at the moment, as I was expecting this to be quite a difficult year,” she says. “I think there will be some who experienced problems with lower Brix levels and higher pH as well as disease.”

EDUCATION Education classes to improve my agricultural knowledge and become a better farmer.

She describes this year as a good “learning curve” for those who have recently planted vines. “It will be interesting to see how growers and winemakers meet the challenges,” she says. “I believe it will also focus the

Year End 2019


2019 Orchard & Vine Fruit Survey

We Asked & You Answered Do you make beverages with your fruit?

Juice 50%

Cider 16%

Wine 16%

Fruit Wine 8%

Soda 8%

Cider? 35% said after seeing the growth in cider making that they were interested in putting in a cidery or tasting room in the future.

industry on the varietals that are best suited to the differing sites around the province.” As the weather shifts and changes from season to season, she sees the benefit being a greater understanding of one’s own vineyard and the ability to prepare for a range of weather. “In the end, it means we have learned to manage our vineyards and winemaking better,” she says. “Only positive things can come from this.” Areas with growing vineyard acreage include the Fraser Valley, Kamloops and Lillooet. “Acreage is also increasing in the Okanagan,” she explains. “Vineyards are being planted farther north in areas like Lake Country. Planting is also happening in the Similkameen Valley.” Red and white grape tonnage remains relatively even with Merlot the most predominant followed by Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Depending upon the crop, organic fruit growers came upon similar challenges as their conventional-growing counterparts but, are faced with the additional dilemma of having fewer tools to meet those challenges. Neil Sproule of Sproule & Sons Farm in Oyama is happy to have signed up for crop insurance when it comes to this year’s fruit crop. “The crop on our farm sustained about a 60 to 70 per cent loss in cherries and we have filed a claim with crop insurance,” he says. “We did our normal program on our fruits that we have 28 Year End 2019

Photo contributed


Organic farmer Neil Sproule of Sproule & Sons Farm in Oyama.

been doing for years, however, the weather played a huge role in how our crops turned out.” Sproule spoke to another organic cherry grower based in Kelowna and found that they had the same issues with cherry split and crop loss. Just as bad as Sproule, if not worse, he says.

Comments ALR is off base. Farmers need secondary forms of income or value added to sustain the family farm.

About those regulations… Bill 52 - Are you in favour or against the change? Regarding: removes the ability for an ALR owner to have a secondary, non-farm use modular dwelling for immediate family.

100% against the changes. I have now for the first time made long term plans that do not include my family living on the farm as we will not all be able to be accommodated with our growing family.

Bill 15 – Are you in favour or against? Regarding: make it harder for farmers to have value-added operations and sell directly to the public as farm-to-table enterprises. Reverts to a more centralized commission as opposed to six regional panels, exclusions for ALR to be submitted to the ALC by local governments, First Nations or the province instead of by landowners.

We are nearing retiring age and would like to see our property to continue to be used for agriculture. We would also like to keep living on the farm we developed. We are close to retirement and would like to live on the farm but as you age you need physical help to keep the farm up. Therefore, you need younger family members to help. It is better to have family help on the farm than to go into a home!


We are multiple families living on the farm in one house. Typical agenda against farmers by this government, wineries are allowed to cover half the land with buildings. 9% No Opinion

We are of retirement age but there are many options available to allow us to live comfortably without further structures. After we depart what will the structures be used for, rentals? Then there is a problem.


At Sunreal Organic Farm and Market (home to Upside Cider), Isaac Potash had the same problems with cherries as everyone else.

In the act there has always been a provision for 2nd dwelling, for farm help, not for family. If a real farmer needs farm worker housing, they can still build this, however local government no longer gets to make the final decision on it if needed. The ALC did a poor job of announcing the changes and it caused farmers, ALR land owners, and local governments, and media to be unprepared, confused and poorly instructed on what the rule means.

“Cherries were a complete write-off,” he says, explaining that he lost the entire crop. All of Sproule & Sons organic fruit is grown on 15 acres, of which about half is leased. The focus is on cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes and pears. So with the harsh early frost hitting stone fruits hard and the rain causing losses across the board for cherries, it was a difficult season for Sproule and other organic growers to say the least.

ALR has too much say already.

“The 2019 fruit season was difficult due to the February freeze and in July, too much rain,” he explains. “This presented a lot of splitting in the cherries and brown rot in the other fruits.”

It would make it harder for farmers to have value added operations and sell directly to the public as farm to table enterprises. We need more of these opportunities to keep farms financially viable.

Although Potash’s apples did great, the early cold snap wreaked havoc on the apricots on his farm, much the same as other for organic and conventional growers.

Due to the cost of land a value added operation option is essential to keep the land in farm status and allow growth to the industry.

“Our challenges were in the early season fruit,” he says. “Apricots were down because we had a -3 frost in full blossom.” With reduced pollination and blossom set from the frost, it was obvious from the outset yields would be down for both Sproule and Potash.

The ALC needs to find better ways to enforce their rules, and in doing so, allow bonafide farmers to expand their businesses, add value to their operations and grow our local economy. They are seeing too many schemes where products aren’t grown and made onsite, thereby those who have been breaking rules for years have again caused the problem for those who do honest work and follow rules.

Fortunately, Sproule sees the market for stone fruits as one with future growth potential for organic growers. He, and other fruit growers will be happy to put the 2019 season behind him and is looking forward to a better season in 2020. ■

Year End 2019


BC Wine Industry

Year 2019 in the

Photo by Amy Mitchell - Dreamstime.com

By Roslyne Buchanan

30 Year End 2019

Rearview Mirror The rearview mirror of 2019 reveals many milestones for the BC Wine industry. Yet, at times, the industry was as capricious as the BC climate. Winter kill reduced vineyard yields in some areas – Katherine and Bill McEachnie at Winston Vineyard reported such loss. Some regions had heat spikes, heavy rain and hail followed by drought and finally summer exited quickly leaving cooler temperatures and more rain than normal. Even growing a crop like grapes with romantic cachet, the life of a farmer is unpredictable.

JAK Meyer, Meyer Family Vineyards, talked about triumphs such as 2017 McLean Creek Road Pinot Noir receiving 91 points in Wine Spectator, a respected magazine with extensive reach. MFV specifically and BC wineries generally enjoyed huge success in notable wine competitions, and exposure internationally to new markets. For smaller wineries with limited resources, such accolades have impact. Take the All Canadian Wine Championships (ACWC) 2019, where Daydreamer Wines' 2017 Marcus Ansems Shiraz was named

Best Red Wine of the Year; SpearHead Winery's 2018 Riesling the Best White; and Forbidden Fruit Winery 2018 Pomme Desiree Iced Apple won Best Fruit Wine. For more on 2019's prestigious awards, go to orchardandvine.net “Despite the good news, harvest was more challenging for many of us and we’ve had to devote more resources in the vineyard for spraying mineral oil to mitigate damage,” JAK noted. “Plus, tourism was down. Add more wineries opening with tasting rooms, touring visitors are spread more thinly. Luckily our

Year End 2019


Wine Club sales are up.” The decline of tourists from China given the volatility of its relationship with Canada was discussed in BC Wine Trends. BC Wine Trends predicted a recession, stating it “will impact the BC Wine drinkers' ability to buy premium wines.”

Winemaker Brad Cooper at Therapy Vineyards on Winemaker Jacq Kemp’s team, noted, “Cool temps and wet weather put pressure on vineyard managers and winemakers are dealing with atypical ripening parameters and on-again, offagain harvest schedules.” Lower sugars and alcohol levels have winemakers creating unique vintages – some consistent with rising consumer demands. In some cases, a bit of sugar may be added to increase the alcohol, as honestly shared by Winemaker Anthony Buchanan of Desert Hills Estate Winery, in working with a small lot of Malbec. Rosé Popularity, Bubbles and Natural Wines Speaking of consumers, the theme “Rosé all day” has strengthened and not just for millennials. Rosé wines flew off shelves almost as fast as wineries made them. While styles vary widely, their versatility

Photo by Henri Georgi

The BC Wine Institute (BCWI) reported good news about growing conditions. In its release quoting Grant Stanley, general manager and winemaker of SpearHead Winery: “Without a doubt the moderate heat extending throughout the season has brought about grape ripeness without any sun burning or threat of overripeness.”

JAK Meyer and Chris Carson, winemaker and viticulturist at Meyer Family Vineyards.

Despite the good news, the harvest was more challenging for many of us and we’ve had to devote more resources… to mitigate damages. JAK Meyer for sipping, food pairing and marking special occasions rivals sparkling wines. Natural wines made with minimal intervention are being embraced. Wine Folly describes natural wine as “the unfiltered, untamed, un-photoshopped version of what we know to be wine.” Generally, grapes are from “sustainable, organic or

biodynamic vineyards” and fermentation is with native yeasts and no additives. Popular expressions are Orange wine where white wine is made similarly to red with skins and seeds part of fermentation; Pétillant-naturel (Pet-Nat) where sparkling is made using the Méthode Ancestrale; and Col Fondo Prosecco, an unfiltered version of Prosecco. Along with funky styles of sparkling, more wineries released highly sophisticated sparkling wines – maybe to keep up with the inevitable loss through sabering the bottles. Yes, whacking open your sparkling aggressively rather than opening it elegantly is a thing.

Photo by Roslyne Buchanan

Savvy Consumers know Wine is About Place

Grapes at 50th Parallel Estate in Lake Country. 32 Year End 2019

Just as the international recognition shows a maturity within BC’s wine industry, sense of place labelling so well established in Europe and more recently in the United States indicates a coming of age. The move in BC to better communicate to consumers key factors about wine such as where the grapes were sourced and to advocate truth in label-

ling continued. BC has nine geographical indications: Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, Kootenays, Lillooet, Okanagan Valley, Shuswap, Similkameen Valley, Thompson Valley and Vancouver Island. There are now four sub-geographic indicators (subGI) as Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench join the list with Golden Mile Bench and Okanagan Falls. Over on Bottleneck Drive, Paul Sawler, Dirty Laundry Vineyards, noted work is underway to identify other sub-GIs – perhaps a Summerland Bench. New Wineries, Acquisitions, Growth, and Challenges

Staff, too, were in short supply. Key personnel shifted in the ongoing game of musical chairs and big new wineries accentuated the scarcity. Acquisitions continued such as Culmina Family Estate Winery by Arterra Wines Canada, Inc. The wine industry braced for how the legalization of cannabis might impact sales. Given legalization challenges like supply and licensing of outlets, the jury is still out. Molson Coors is set to sell its first, nonalcoholic, cannabis-infused drinks in Canada by Christmas. Creating another wrinkle for sales, Canada and United States agreed as the USMCA trade deal between them and Mexico was renegotiated so that wine and cider sales on BC supermarket shelves would not be limited to BC offerings.

Photo contributed

Still, this summer marked the elimination

Winemaker Brad Cooper

Photo by Roslyne Buchanan

Accessing grapes became more complicated, with huge companies gobbling up wineries in part as vineyard acquisition. Independent vineyards could demand higher prices underscoring that vineyard ownership is the closest you can come to a guarantee of obtaining fruit. Vineyard at 50th Parallel Estate in Lake Country, BC, north of Kelowna.

after 91 years of the interprovincial shipping restriction on the movement of alcohol between provinces. Provincial laws in some jurisdictions continue to create barriers, but the removal of the federal law was encouraging. Loss and Acknowledgements We lost an iconic spokesperson in Harry McWatters. His death sent a ripple across the industry and his Celebration of Life was attended by hundreds with many travelling from afar to salute Harry’s accomplishments. At the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards there was a touching tribute by Christine Coletta and others as the Founder’s Award was renamed in his honour. Master Winemaker Howard Soon of Vanessa Vineyard was awarded The Order of Canada for his “role in shaping, expanding and elevating British Columbia’s wine industry." The BC Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier honoured Christine Coletta, owner of Okanagan Crush Pad, with the 2019 Trailblazer Award. Manuel Ferreira, proprietor of Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek and Stephen Cipes, founder/ proprietor of Summerhill Pyramid Winery were inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame.

and a second installment attracted returning and first-time participants. A Long-Term Strategic Plan for the BC wine industry called 'Wine BC 2030' was presented at the BC Wine Industry Insight Conference on March 12, 2019. For details go to winebc2030.com Summerhill Pyramid Winery became the first winery in Canada and one of only 26 wineries worldwide to be accredited as a Certified B Corporation, meaning it now balances positive impacts on the community and the world against profit, with an aim to create businesses that become a force for good. Renowned wine critic Steven Spurrier who was part of the BCWI’s inaugural Judgment of BC in 2015 – inspired by the legendary Judgment of Paris 1976 – returned to BC “to taste and evaluate world-class wines from the region alongside 34 top wine professionals from around the world and across the country.” Results were announced at a Sparkling Wine Reception at Penticton Lakeside Resort.

Planning for the Future

To look forward, it helps to review the past. Assisting in that reflection, Luke Whittall launched his book, Valleys of Wine: A Taste of British Columbia’s Wine History.

The inaugural Fortify Conference 2018 confirmed commonalities between wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries

Here’s to 2019, from prestigious awards to vigilance in the vineyards and crush pads, it was never boring. ■

Year End 2019


2019 Orchard & Vine Wine Survey

We Asked & You Answered What was your best producing varietal grown this year? Pinot Gris 19% Pinot Noir 19% Chardonnay 16% Merlot 13% Cabernet Franc 6% Cabernet Sauvignon 6% Chasselas 6% Reisling 6% Gamay 3% Gewürztraminer 3% Kerner 3% Wine flight courtesy of winebc.com

Which grape varietals do you grow?

Pinot Blanc 3% Roussanne 3% Syrah 3%

Other Varieties 2%: Cab Franc, Gewürztraminer Blend, Kerner, Marechal Foc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris Orange Wine, Syrah Cuvee Violette, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Rosé Semillon, Vidal.

Chardonnay 65% Merlot 60% Pinot Gris 60% Pinot Noir 60% Cab Sauvignon 40% Riesling 40% Syrah 40% Gewürztraminer 37% Cab Franc 31% Gamay Noir 31% Pinot Blanc 25% Marechal Foch 20% Malbec 14% Ortega 8% Petit Verdot 8% Semillon 8% Viognier 8% Chasselas 5% Siegrebbe 5%

Other Varieties 2%: Albarino, Auxerrois, Castel, Cayuga White, Dolcetto, Dunkelfelder, Gruner Veltliner, Kerner, Madeleine X Sylvaner, Muscat, Pinot Meunier, Roussanne Marsanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Touriga National, Verdelet Vidal, Zinfandel, Zweigelt. 34 Year End 2019

Trends Wine in a can is a growing trend in the U.S. and overseas, and expected to catch on in Canada. Do you sell wine in a can? 90% SAY NO 10% SAY MAYBE IN THE FUTURE

Changes to ALC Bill 15 & 52 Bill 15: makes it harder for farmers to have value added operations and sell directly to the public as farm-to-table enterprises. Reverts to a more centralized commission as opposed to six regional panels, exclusions for ALR to be submitted to the ALC by local governments, First Nations or the province instead of by landowners. Are you in favour or against? 61% Against the changes 30% No Comment 9% in Favour Bill 52: removes the ability for an ALR owner to have a secondary, non-farm use modular dwelling for immediate family. Are you in favour or against the change?

Is Orange the new Rosé?

57% Against the changes

Rosé has increased in popularity in the last few years. Have you added any new types of wine or any new blends to meet consumer demand?

20% in Favour

23% No Comment


54% SAY NO

This change should differentiate between the location and the total acreage of production on the lot. This law is meant to forgo misuse of farmland, which is applicable more in certain areas in the province (Lower Mainland mainly).

42% SAY YES In response to increased demand our readers have added different types of Rosé: Syrah Rosé, Fizzante Rosé, Pinot Rosé, GSM Rosé, Cabernet Franc Rosé, Malbec Rosé. Other popular wines mentioned were Sparkling Natural Wines and Orange wines, Orange Vidal, Pinot/Gamay blend.

Yes I am near retiring age and would like to live on the farm. I am against it, as it can provide a secondary income for farmers and be beneficial especially towards retirement.

What was your best selling wine?

Hoping at retirement to have a small place to live and allow one of our children to have our home with us nearby to help.

Merlot 11% Pinot Gris 11% Pinot Noir 11% Gamay 11% Riesling 8.5% Photo by Roslyne Buchanan

Syrah 8.5% White Blend 8.5% Cab Sauvignon 6% Chasselas 6% Rosé 6%

Grape harvest at Township 7 in Naramata.

Year End 2019


2019 Orchard & Vine Wine Survey

We Asked & You Answered

Danny and son Michael D'Angelo pile on the paninis at D'Angelo Winery.

Tell us about your Winery 91% Have a Tasting Room 67% Have a Picnic Area 30% Have a Restaurant 11% H ave Entertainment: concerts, live music or special events 9% H ave a separate room or area for your wine club or group tours 3% Have a Food Truck on site A picnic with a jaw-dropping view at Bench 1775 in Naramata.

Where do the visitors to your winery come from?

BC 100% Alberta 97%

Lots of visitors from Washington state with the lower dollar. I’ve focused on international brand building for the last eight years and it’s really had a positive reciprocal effect on visits to our winery. Many visitors from the UK this year.

Local Area 90% Mostly BC and Alberta. USA 76% International 67% The Rest of Canada 63%

36 Year End 2019


Of respondents felt that the industry and government should do more to promote wine tourism.

Did smoke damage from 2018 continue to hurt visits? We do think smoke affected traffic through our valley this year. However this year the lack of fires had people coming later into the season, which was great. Yes, last year's smoke affected the visitors to the area. As soon as there is mention of fire in the area customers remember previous years and cancel reservations. Media coverage scares people away. Although we need to let people know what is going on it should be on lower key, not make it look so dramatic. We still need to do business. YES! I think every smoke year scares people and we lose a big share of tourism sales. No, I don't. We expect to see continued growth. Local festivals work in our favor. Yes smoke was a fear, also cooler temperatures in general. This was a good year for visitors and for us to show off our region. Yes. Travellers definitely waited to book their vacations at the last minute rather than prebooking. Smoke from last year affected tourist visits overall but visits to our winery and sales were actually up due to the popularity of our wine and return customers. Or was it politics? Yes, I think smoke affected visits, but also politics (Alberta/BC) and economics. I think it will be different next year. Hard to say but a definite possibility. Alberta/BC political issues could be reason or Alberta's economic downturn. How were visits to your winery compared to previous years?

UP 43%

DOWN Photos by Gary Symons


SAME 23% Salvatore at D'Angelo Estate Winery offers tasting, picnic lunches, and rooms.

Year End 2019


2019 Orchard & Vine Survey - Facebook Edition

How do you feel about the changes to the ALC? This year we took our survey to Facebook, to get some input and comments about the changes the government has made to Bill 52 and Bill 15. We received a lot of responses and a lot of great comments. We have published a few below and the rest will be available on our website.

We Asked & You Answered Bill 52 - Are you in favour or against the changes? Regarding: removes the ability for an ALR owner to have a secondary, non-farm use modular dwelling for immediate family.

Photos by Gary Symons

Bill 15 – Are you in favour or against? Regarding: make it harder for farmers to have value added operations and sell directly to the public as farm-to-table enterprises. Reverts to a more centralized commission as opposed to six regional panels, exclusions for ALR to be submitted to the ALC by local governments, First Nations or the province instead of by landowners.

100% Against Comments COMMON SENSE ■ If the bill just stopped dumping of industrial waste or reduced house sizes not many farmers would complain. But this bill went too far and unfairly penalizes farmers across BC for Lower Mainland issues that could have easily been solved by updating local municipal bylaws. FAMILY ■ Strongly against - I want to be on our land as I age, or for my elderly mother currently. Also, I wish to be able to give my children the opportunity to live on our land to aid in this housing crisis. We are a tight-knit family and wish to be near

Have you attended or plan to attend any of the government engagement meetings?

each other... our land is more than large enough to accommodate small houses for us all around the edges in the nonfarmable rocky areas. I strongly don't believe that we should be limited to equity-devaluing modular homes for family they have the right to a solidly constructed, equity-enhancing dwelling. RETIRING FARMERS ■ This has devastated our retirement planning. We purchased our property in 2011 with the understanding that we would be able to have a home for ourselves and a home for a tenant who would assist with the work and also help me as I unfortunately am not in good health and by the time we retire, I most certainly will need assistance in order to age in place. We have budgeted and saved and planned for events

Do you sell value-added products or have other business on your property? Farm Gate Market 18%

YES 38% Rentals, B+B etc. 16% NO 35%

Food/Jams/Honey/Dressings 11% Agri-Tourism, events, petting zoo, etc. 9%

IN FUTURE 25% Beverages/Wine/Cider/Mead/Spirits 2%

38 Year End 2019

Bill 15 & 52 to unfold five years from now. Then they change the rules arbitrarily. I tried to get a secondary residence built as quickly as possible but we were not able to get our building permit until after the Feb. 2019 deadline. To compound things further, on the advice of our accountant, we incorporated the farm, so that makes application all the more difficult. There seems to be no possibility of application to the ALC as corporations cannot by definition have a "family member".

positioned on a large farm that would have no effect on limiting farming practices. Families of European heritage who pioneered Canadian lands have typically clustered together since the late 1600s as a form of sharing the work load and keeping families knit together. This is an efficient and healthy way to continue farm productivity and promote family unity on Canadian land. The ALC is blanketing regulations to be applicable to all farms regardless of size or location across the entire province. The new regulations are beginning to squeeze farmers by use of taxes, and legislation to the point we will all be forced to get off farm land if this keeps up. We personally own our land outright, hold a deed and pay our taxes. So who’s land is this then? The ALCs or ours? They can come on our property at any time without a search warrant, demand information, fine us for having a holiday trailer parked in our drive way and literally control our lives. This is sliding into communism. The ALC needs to be stopped before they eliminate farming in BC. As I said above some minor regulations are understandable and would be considered fair by most but now the ALC is stepping on feet, pushing unreasonable constraints and hurting farmers. Nanny state on steroids!

■ We are nearing retirement and would like family to be able to take over and live in our home and build a smaller one close by so we don't have to move, or live with them as our house is only 1000 square feet. We don't think it is appropriate for the government to say what we can or cannot do on private land. There is no senior housing available in our area - as in much of BC - even in the Lower Mainland cities (on the best farm soil in BC) are now encouraging and approving laneway housing. YOUNG FARMERS ■ I'm a young farmer starting out and have parents on farm to help. If we were to build a second home for our aging parents it would have to be in the 'non ALR' land portion of our property which has no access, power, or water. This farm has been in a farm since 1901 and hasn't needed any regulations to keep it that way. They assume much to dictate how a farm should be operated. Each site and operation requires close, first hand knowledge of the operations to decide proper placement of infrastructure. If they want to increase food production and food security, do so by incentivizing farming, not by restricting farmland use. If they want to protect farmland in Richmond, for example, have local bylaw restrictions for building on land that was classified as a farm beforehand and make decisions on a case by case basis for those. One size does not fit all and the rest of BC is paying the price.

What type of crop or farm do you have? Vineyard or Winery 4%

Orchard 16%

Berries 19%

Vegetables 28%


■ This is a HUGE mistake by the Government!! Anything that can be done to add value to a farm is a "good" investment. It is hard enough to be a farmer with all the cheaper food being imported. Also why would anyone think that a centralized commission be better. The Farmers of BC are as different as the lands they are farming. If you don't support the Farmers of today, there will be no farmers for tomorrow!!

* Canola, flowers, garlic, grain, hay, herbs, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, livestock, poultry, ranching, tree nursery, nuts .

■ The main issue I find with the ALR land commission is the fact that they are a nanny state organization. To begin with a few regulations are understandable. For example in the lower main land where farms are smaller the practice of placing large homes on these ALR parcels is understandably not wise. Good farmland is being covered by subdivisions ,mansions and even factories. But in the vast majority of areas across BC we have large farms with huge areas of forest, pasture, and land space that could easily have two or three family homes

Vancouver Island 31 % Lower Mainland 16% Okanagan16% Cariboo Chilcotin 9% Thompson Nicola 8% Kootenays 7% Omineca Skeena 7% Peace River 1% Fraser Valley 1%

What region in BC do you farm in?

Year End 2019


Photo by Dreamstime.com

Canadian Wine Ma Okanagan

aking Connections to Niagara

Photo contributed

Vineland Estates Winery includes the landmark stone tower standing over a former Mennonite homestead with structures that date back to the 1840s.

By Michael Botner Visiting family in Ontario this August meant staying near the Niagara Peninsula for a few weeks. It was time enough to tour the area and check out some of the wineries, not only the ones I was familiar with (prior to 2005) but also a selection of newer winery arrivals. Like BC, the number of wineries has ballooned since the arrival of Free Trade and with it, vinifera plantings and wine quality. Although BC leads with a greater number of wineries (approximately 300 to 200), Ontario boasts nearly double the acreage under vine (over 17,000 acres to 10,500).

42 Year End 2019

Rare wines stored at Vineland Estates Winery.

Photos by Michael Botner

High on my winery bucket list were those I could identify in which the winemaker also has a significant connection to the Okanagan. Seeking out the interprovincial movers and shakers of Canadian winemaking, I started at Vineland Estates, the venerable winery situated high on Twenty Mile Bench, a subappellation within the Niagara Escarpment Regional Appellation. Vineland (the winery not the village) emerged from a demonstration vineyard planted in 1979 by Hermann Weis, a nurseryman and winemaker from Germany’s Mosel region who was determined to prove Riesling could thrive despite harsh Canadian winters. He succeeded and the vineyard became the cornerstone of Vineland Estates. Enter Allan Schmidt as winemaker in 1987 followed four years later by his younger brother Brian. Born and raised in Kelowna, both belong to one of the pioneering families of the Okanagan wine industry. Early in his career, their father Lloyd managed historic Beau SÊjour vineyard in Mission and later became a founding partner (with Harry McWatters) of Sumac Ridge in Summerland, before moving to Ontario with his family in 1988. He applied his extensive grape growing expertise to sourcing grape vines for nurseries and advising growers on grape variety and root stock selection and suitability for the soil conditions. He passed away in Grimsby, Ontario in February 4, 2019.

Amphoras at Vineland Estates Winery.

Today, the Schmidt brothers continue the family tradition at Vineland Estates with Allan as president and Brian, the winemaker since 1993. They oversee one of Niagara’s most charming and picturesque properties, the 42 acre, escarpment-based St. Urban Vineyard which showcases the Weis 21 Riesling clone first planted in 1979 by Hermann Weis. It surrounds a collection of carefully restored, 19th century, stone farm buildings, an old Mennonite estate dating back to the 1840s. Bo-Teek is Vineland’s other significant vineyard, a 65 acre site also on the escarpment. “Twenty Mile Bench on the Niagara Escarpment brings the unique, convection-warming effect from Lake Ontario.” Brian says. “It also allows for natural drainage of water and air, and the Bench signature concentration of citrus fruit and acidity.” Under their tutelage, the winery has grown from 5,000 cases a year in 1991 to as high as 61,000 cases in recent years. “Our sweet spot is 50,000 cases with the focus on Riesling and Cabernet Franc,” says Brian. “Bottom line,” he adds, “we’re the current caretakers of the vineyard known as the epicentre of Riesling in Canada.”

Photos by Michael Botner

The most dramatic and consequential change took place in 2014 when Vineland acquired Canada’s first Pellenc de-stemmer and optical sorter for a cool half million dollars. It uses cameras and infrared lights to discern ripeness of berries (apparently all red) based on colour, size and shape through a series of programs, then removes the petioles with 99 grooves and individualized nozzles. It boasts high sorting quality for large flow rates of 10-14 tons per hour. “It is a game-changer for providing better quality fruit even in the entry-level category at lower cost, and provides control of what goes into the fermentation tank,” Brian explains. “Making it available to other wineries who bring the fruit to Vineland for destemming and sorting helps to defray the machine’s high initial costs.” It is coming to other wineries in Canada in short order. Best of Vineland: 2017 Elevation St. Urban Riesling, Niagara Escarpment is a classic Mosel-style Riesling, slightly off-dry, crisp and clean with nuances of green apple, slate, honey and lime; 2017 Bo-Teek Pinot Meunier, Twenty Mile Bench is unusual in that Meunier is rarely seen on a label. Made from one of the

The crush pad at Vineyard Estates Winery.

three Champagne varieties, it is the epitome of fun times, pale, fresh, lively with bright, round cassis, cherry and raspberry flavours; 2016 Elevation Bo-Teek Cabernet, Niagara Escarpment is a richly-structured blend of 77% Cabernet Franc and 23% Cabernet Sauvignon. It exudes supple blackcurrant with hints of cedar, dark chocolate, coffee bean and limestone backed by round, ripe, chalky tannins; 2016 Bo-Tek Cabernet Franc, Twenty Mile Bench, made from Vineland’s oldest Cabernet Franc clone, is elegant, muscular, concentrated, and delivers lovely, warm flavours of black berry, espresso bean and blackcurrant jam. At Southbrook Organic Vineyards, East Kelowna native Ann Sperling signed on as Director of Winemaking and Viticulture in 2006. Hiring Sperling, a strong biodynamic advocate, was a coup for owner Bill Redelmeier. A farmer to his core, he was planning an expansion of the vineyard and construction of a winery and associated hospitality pavilion, which opened in 2008. Based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, on the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation, it rests on a broad plain that stretches from the Escarpment to the fast-flowing Niagara River and experiences a higher daily temperature range and earlier spring warming. Billing itself as Canada’s first certified organic and biodynamic winery, Southbrook’s entire 150 vineyard is certified organic by Pro-Cert Canada, one of its 75 acre vineyards

Canada's first Pellenc de-stemmer and optical sorter.

Year End 2019


Photos contributed

The first winery building to receive the Gold level of LEED in 2008.

is Demeter-certified biodynamic, the other 75 acres carries full biodynamic status. The hospitality pavilion became the first winery building to receive the Gold level of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) in 2008. Sperling’s career started at Andrès Wines in Port Moody in 1984, after graduating from UBC with a food sciences degree. Following a four-year stint at Cedar Creek, she left for Niagara in 1995, becoming the initial winemaker at Malivoire, a small innovative winery, before joining Southbrook. With winemaker husband Peter Gamble, they have also purchased a vineyard in Argentina’s Mendoza region, making a wine called Vesado from 120-year-old Malbec vines. Through her mother Velma, Ann is a member of the Casorso clan, arguably Kelowna’s first family of the vine. Ann’s great grandfather Giovanni Casorso arrived from Italy in 1883 and worked as an agricultural specialist for Father Pandosy’s Oblate Mission. In 1929, two of Giovanni’s sons, Pete and Louis, planted the 45-acre vineyard on Casorso Road, which now supplies the family-owned Sperling Vineyards with Maréchal Foch, Riesling and other vinifera varieties. In 2009, she realized her dream of making wine from the grapes grown in the family

vineyard when she launched Sperling Vineyards. At Southbrook, Sperling produces a range of wines of impressive quality such as: 2018 Syrah Rosé, Four Mile Creek is floral, lively and virtually dry, brimming with flavours suggesting grapefruit, watermelon and strawberry; 2016 Poetica Chardonnay, Four Mile Creek features bold, steely flavours of juicy apple, smoky oak and vanilla spice; 2017 Wild Ferment Chardonnay, Niagara Escarpment delivers creamy expressions of freshly-baked croissant, succulent apricot and apple, toast oak and refreshing acidity; 2016 Estate Petit Verdot, Four Mile Creek, is classic example of this variety made from grapes grown on the warmest sites. The palate suggests distinct blackberry fruit and cedar hints with ripe, finely-textured tannins; 2015 Red Poetica, Four Mile Creek consists of 72% Cabernet Franc and 28% Petit Verdot. Deep, dark, concentrated, it serves up sweet, spicy cassis, blackberry, plum, black licorice, pepper and smoke with lively acidity and chalky tannins; 2018 Skin Fermented Vidal Orange Wine, Four Mile Creek is a funky beast; bone dry with riveting flavours of tropical fruit, apricot peel and honey spiked with yeasty lees and squeezed lemon. All wines are certified organic and biodynamic and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. A major player in both Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley, Bruce Nicholson reigns as chief winemaker at Inniskillin Wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is a position he was offered in 2007 after a 20-year stint in BC, starting as assistant winemaker at Casabello Wines in Penticton. After Casabello closed in 1994, he moved to what was then Brights winery near Oliver, and when it was taken over by Vincor in 1996 and, after dramatic expansion and modernization, transformed into Jackson-Triggs, he became the senior winemaker, earning a reputation for creating award-winning, single vineyard, VQA wines.

Ann Sperling, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture. 44 Year End 2019

Proprietor Bill Redelmeier.

Born and raised in the Niagara Region, transferring to Inniskillin meant returning home to parents and siblings. Established in 1975 as Ontario’s first licensed, commercial winery since prohibition, today's Braeburn Vineyard winery, situated along

The picnic area at Inniskillin is popular with tourists and locals alike during the Spring through Fall wine tour season.

Photos contributed

the Niagara Parkway, has been enlarged and streamlined for production of 200,000 cases of Icewine and table wine a year and hosting countless visitors. By far the largest producer of Icewine in Canada, Inniskillin relies heavily on the stalwart, thick-skinned hybrid, Vidal Blanc. But it has taken the genre to another level with such sublime examples as the ultra-refined, concentrated 2017 Gold Vidal Icewine aged four months in new French oak; 2017 Niagara River Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine, Klose Vineyard with richly complex flavours of toffee, dried plum and cherry; and a Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine redolent of raspberry, strawberry and rhubarb jam. Table wines tasted include 2018 Discovery Series Niagara-on-the-Lake P3, a vivacious assemblage of Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc; creamy, toasty 2017 Four Mile Creek Chardonnay, Montague Vineyard; and 2017 Four Mile Creek Pinot Noir, Montague Vineyard with flavours suggesting ripe plums and cherries, beetroot, chocolate and vanilla. ■ Bruce Nicholson, Winemaker at Inniskillin.

Agricultural Netting & Fabrics


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A Guide to Protecting your Workers effective program contains the following components:

No matter your size, all employers must develop and maintain a workplace health and safety program. Have you reviewed yours lately? While your program will depend on the size of your business, an

• Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policy – Your policy is a statement of your commitment to health and safety. It should highlight the responsibilities of employers, supervisors, and workers in supporting the program.

An effective health and safety plan involves everyone. The planning decisions you make today can affect the health and safety of workers tomorrow.

• Orientation and training – Orient and train new workers on safety policies and procedures before they begin any job. Then supervise to ensure all workers are performing the job safely. If equipment is changed or updated, ensure workers have been updated on their training. • Written instructions – Make sure instructions are written simply, clearly and in consideration of the language requirements of your workers. • Regular inspections – Inspections help to spot potential problems such as the hazards of a particular location or poor condition of equipment and tools. Schedule them often enough to prevent unsafe working conditions from developing. • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Have the appropriate PPE available to all workers and ensure workers are trained in its use. • Incident investigations – Investigate incidents and “near misses”, and identify any changes required to prevent future incidents from reoccurring. • Health and safety meetings – Keep a record of each meeting, including who attended and what was discussed. • First aid – Review your first aid requirements as they can vary depending on the hazards and risks of each workplace. • Record keeping – Certain records are required by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and can act as supporting documentation if an incident occurs. • Emergency response plan – Create a plan for workplace emergencies such as fires, explosions, chemical spills, or natural disasters and make sure your employees understand how to respond effectively in an emergency. ■

Find resources to prevent injuries at worksafebc.com/agriculture

46 Year End 2019

You can find resources to help you meet your health and safety requirements and learn more about the OHS Regulation at worksafebc.com/agriculture.


Under the Influence of 'Influencer Marketing' mediums to present content: posts, videos, and stories. It is the static images (posts) that are most popular among marketers. The idea is that those with a lot of engagement and followers will be able to give great exposure to your brand.


ike it or not, influencer marketing is here to stay, and companies really need to consider it as a component of their marketing mix. What is influencer marketing? Influencer marketing is a tactic that focuses on using thought leaders to drive your message to a larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead pay influencers to get out the word for you. There are different types of influencers: social media, bloggers, members of the media and celebrities. Do it for the ‘gram Where this tactic is commonly used is on today’s favourite social media platform: Instagram. Influencer marketing on Instagram resonates very much with the age cohort of digital natives (a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age) because they are the active users of social networks like Instagram. So if your campaign aims to reach these groups it is a relevant tactic to consider. (If not, maybe search for other tactics or platforms that can reach your audience better.) On Instagram, there are three

What are the options? There are different ways to work with an influencer, including guest posting, sponsored content, co-creation, contests, mentions on social, and discount codes / special offers.

er in the right target market that aligns with your brand. There is a good opportunity to reach segments of your target market using influencers with distinct reach and levels of influence. And size doesn’t always matter. There are niche influencers with strong engagement that can do a lot more for your brand than people with a very big audience.

ships in exchange primarily for free product. Those days are long gone — while there are some micro-influencers willing to exchange free product for promotion, today’s biggest Instagram influencers are charging significant dollars to create posts for brands, as their Instagram accounts have become their main source of income. Yes, this is now a career choice in 2019.

What does it cost?

In order to have a beautiful post on Instagram there is background work that occurs to style and properly light a photo. Also, most Instagram influencers have a certain aesthetic that appears on their feed and they need to style

Next, you need to come to an agreement with clear deliverables for the payment.

The important thing is to treat any agreement professionally, and to make sure that whatever you give, be it cash, product, or experiences, that the influencer notes in writing what kind of coverage they will provide. Will it be a post in their stories only (which disappear after 24 hours) or will there be a post on multiple social media channels that stays permanently? Bonus is if a blog post is included!

In the earliest days of influencer marketing, social influencers would take on partner-

Should I work with an influencer? Influencers hit large numbers of eyeballs with just one post. Like with earned media, with an influencer endorsement you gain 3rd party credibility. Benefits include “Brand awareness. Identity,” says Ashley Spilak, content marketing manager for the Wines of British Columbia. I feel that as someone in marketing and PR it is my job to get eyeballs on my clients, regardless of the channel. Influencers, bloggers, and legacy media are all potential channels. It is also my job to vet and determine who is of value. So, in order to work with an influencer, you first need to identify the right influenc

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Does a print article directly sell more wine? The exposure on Instagram is not unlike being mentioned in traditional media. Avi Gill, influencer and media relations manager for Destination Greater Victoria notes that when an influencer talks about you on their feed, that feed can be likened to a newsletter, and your brand is one of the stories in that news. For those that may resist, Joe Roberts, a friend of mine and the author of the blog 1 Wine Dude recently wrote an excellent post about wine brands questioning working with influencers. In his article he notes “…just because an attractive celebrity staging an IG photo for 25 minutes to get the perfect combination of lighting, vineyard, and bottle shot doesn’t feel like “real” wine journalism to you, doesn’t mean that it’s without value. We spent years in the wine biz debating the worth of something (blogs) that didn’t fit the traditional wine media mold, but whose value in exposing wine brands to those who otherwise might never see them should have been ridiculously obvious to anyone who cares about expanding their brand presence and mindshare.” Spilak comments. “To ensure your wine brand stays relevant, in a sea of wine brands, you need to be seen. Influencers help brands break through the digital advertising noise with a genuine message. And it's a voice their followers already trust and have a relationship with, so they are more likely to pay attention and listen.” So it is not a matter of IF you should work with influencers, but more about, which ones? ■ Leeann Froese owns Vancouver-based Town Hall Brands – a full service marketing agency that specializes in wine, food, and hospitality. See Leeann’s work at townhallbrands.com or follow online at @townhallbrands

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What Will It Take to Save Ambrosia? ent successor to Ambrosia. A new variety takes many years of testing and many years of slow expansion to test the market acceptance for the variety. Ambrosia itself has taken over 20 years since it came on the scene as a superior apple. Potential to license new apple varieties is limited, and why should the BC apple sector bother with another new variety if it cannot get Ambrosia right?

Some commentators say that Ambrosia supply has finally exceeded demand. However, this does not recognize some basic facts:


mbrosia is a superior apple - its eating quality, ease of growing in the Okanagan-SImilkameen climate, and consumer appeal make the apple a winner. Some niche markets exist where pricing remains at the level this premium variety deserves, but these smaller markets are limited in comparison to the total market. In the broad Western Canadian marketplace, Ambrosia prices have slipped over the past four years, at least for the major packinghouses.

• Ambrosia is still under protection in many areas of the world, for many more years. • Ambrosia is not being heavily planted in Washington State, due to the hotter Washington State climate and the Washington State focus on Cosmic Crisp.

This leads to the conclusion that the industry needs to rethink the way Ambrosia is marketed. Selling all of the Ambrosia in Western Canada is a problem - the supply-demand equation is not in line with premium pricing. Therefore, establishing markets in the rest of Canada, Western

• Total Ambrosia production, current and projected, is miniscule in comparison to world production of apples. Ambrosia ‘has legs’ and should be an important premium apple for years to come. For BC, there is no appar-

US, and Asia is important to keeping the supply-demand in balance in Western Canada. Premium markets have been established in Vietnam, and about 10 years ago, premium markets existed in California and Arizona retail space for Ambrosia. Ten years ago, Ambrosia was often prominently displayed at the front of the produce section, on its own, and consumers were willingly snapping up the variety in the marketplace at premium prices. An important aspect to maintaining premium prices is to segregate your product as having unique and superior characteristics, as Ambrosia does. In the past 10 years, less BC Ambrosia have been sold into the US markets in

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Year End 2019


the same way, and the premium niche therefore needs to be re-established, if that is feasible. Other markets need to be explored too. The New Tree Fruit Variety Development Council (NVDC) has convened 2 (soon to be 3) meeting of packers to push forward a modernized marketing plan for Ambrosia. Packinghouses are strengthening their marketing capabilities. The Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund targets “Markets” as one

of its priorities. This all bodes well for a renewed premium-product strategy. In BC, we are not low-cost producers, so we must maintain premium products in the marketplace in order to survive. Equally important to market segregation is product quality. Packinghouse attention and field monitoring of maturity, proper nutrition to maximize eating and storage quality, continued improvements

in Controlled Atmosphere storage to preserve flavour, and maximizing colour through horticultural practices are all needed for Ambrosia to provide the best eating experience. Fortunately, growers may apply to the “Light Reflecting Material Program” of the NVDC - see www. nvdc.ca - to get assistance with the purchase of white woven fabric which is laid between tree rows to reflect light and increase red apple colour. The program provides funding towards the purchase of the materials with the support of the Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund. In addition to enhancing red colour, growers need to work with their horticultural advisors to ensure good size, optimal harvest dates, and storability. There are several horticultural techniques in trying to even out harvest maturity and possibly double-picking to make top quality. The best horticultural advice and knowledge is critical to growing the best Ambrosia for the marketplace. Ambrosia has a bright future, if industry can craft a strategy to re-engage premium markets and re-gain premium pricing. Working together, the industry can return Ambrosia to its rightful place as the best apple in the marketplace. ■ Glen Lucas, BCFGA

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BC Wines Having a Breakout Moment came out on top at this year’s Judgment of BC. The following BC wineries took home top prizes in their categories: Arrowleaf Cellars ranked first among the Pinot Noir flight; Meyer Family Vineyards came in first for the flight of Chardonnay; with 50th Parallel Estate Winery a close second; For the Riesling flight, CedarCreek Winery came in second with St. Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery coming in third; and the final flight of Syrah saw BC wines take all three top spots with Tightrope Winery coming in first, Le Vieux Pin Winery in second and Stag’s Hollow Winery in third.

both categories, bringing international recognition to New World wines.


n 1976, the Judgment of Paris, a blind tasting initiated by then wine merchant Steven Spurrier, set out to test some of France’s best wines against up and coming Californian wines. A panel of esteemed French judges blind tasted two similar varietals (Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon) from each region against each other. To everyone’s surprise the California wines took the top spot in

Fast forward to today, BC wine is now celebrating the same international recognition as The Wines of British Columbia were put to the ultimate test at the Judgment of BC, an event inspired by the legendary Paris tasting. Special guest and wine expert Steven Spurrier joined 32 top wine professionals from around the world and across the country to take part in a full-day, blind tasting of 24 of BC’s celebrated grape varieties - Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah - against 16 international benchmarks.

“Since I was last in British Columbia in 2015, what I’m seeing is the increasing com-

And once again, BC wines

mitment, investment and quality,” said Spurrier. “Seeing the vineyards showed me how extraordinary some of these vineyard sites are. The purpose of terroir is to allow the grape variety to express itself and BC does that well. “Whether it’s Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc, the vineyards are showing an undeniable expressiveness of grape variety and high quality, and in my view, that puts the area in a very strong league in the international market,” he added. “Chardonnay has struck me in the last few days, Riesling as well, but Syrah is becoming particularly exciting,” said in-

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ternational wine judge Jaime Goode of Wine Anorak. “The thing with Syrah is that it can do well planted up north, but it can also do well in the south and there are very few varietals that can span both.” The BC wines chosen for the Judgment were selected through a blind tasting conducted by Barb Philip MW, Rhys Pender MW, Michaela Morris, Kurtis Kolt, Shane Taylor, Christina Hartigan, Alistair Veen, Matt Landry and Sean

• Cabernet Franc • Cabernet Sauvignon • Chardonnay • Gamay • Gewürztraminer • Malbec • Merlot • Muscat Ottonel

Nelson, led by DJ Kearney. The selection committee chose the final 24 BC representatives out of a selection of 189 wines. “This is an experiment to see how BC wines are assessed in a global context,” said Kearney. “The results make me personally very proud. I think the quality of wines is so high and that was a common theme as we went through flight by flight. Judges were astonished at how high the

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overall quality was. BC grape growers and winemakers have much to be proud of.” The goal of the Judgment of BC is to honestly assess the current state of grape growing and winemaking in BC to provide a clear perspective of the distinct characteristics of British Columbia wine in relation to global standards, and to achieve a focused vision for the continued evolution of the BC Wine Industry. Tasting some of BC’s most celebrated wines highlights the diversity of BC wine country and showcases the incredible skills and ingenuity of the region’s winemakers. “BC is the here and now; the combination of the grape varieties you’re planting, and the vineyard expression is really perfect,” said Spurrier. “I’ve always described BC as the old world of the new world, because the new world is always trying to do something different, and you’re doing what I think the old world has done and you’re tending to do it well and better.” The British Columbia Wine Institute would like to raise

a glass to all Wines of British Columbia, along with the region's grapegrowers and winemakers for continuing to express the individuality of the region and raise the calibre of BC wines to compete on an international stage. Visit WineBC.com for a list of the judges and the final results. Wine BC BootCamp. Prior to the final Judgment of BC, 26 top wine professionals visiting from around the world and across the country engaged in Wine BC BootCamp. Hosted by Master of Wine Rhys Pender and the British Columbia Wine Institute, the group spent four days studying BC’s wine culture and learning what makes BC wine so unique and special through a series of Master classes, panel discussions and regional visits. “It’s been good having such an intense deep dive. Looking at so many wines close together gives you a really good benchmark for how things are doing.” said Jaime Goode. ■ To learn more visit WineBC.com.

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Capturing Innovation in the Vineyard & Cellar By Carla Elm


n all commercial endeavors, no matter the industry, time is of the essence. Being quicker to market and one step ahead of the competition is necessary in establishing one’s market share and relative success. A recent Harvard Business Review article explored studies conducted on subjects in terms of deadline constraints and procrastination, “Why we procrastinate when we have long deadlines,” by Meng Zhu. Interestingly, most people assume that longer deadlines imply an increased difficulty to the task, thus more time and resources are committed to its completion, and significantly more procrastination and failure to

finish the task occur. As well, findings indicate that when a budget is involved, setting shorter project deadlines will tend to decrease related costs. Time is of the essence is a common contract clause that simply aims to keep the two parties on track, to timely task completion. In the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) realm, ‘time is of the essence’ is paramount: costs related to SR&ED research and experimentation, such as salaries, materials and contractors, can be claimed up to eighteen months prior, a generous feature of this government tax incentive program, but prone to difficulty if the claimant needs to rely on their memory of activities from a year and a half ago.

Ideally, any eligible experimentation conducted in your vineyard or cellar will be recorded in real-time, as it happens, when your memory of the task is fresh in your head and your dialectical method is most pronounced. The questions to ask on at least a weekly basis are: what are our

technological or scientific obstacles? How did we attempt to overcome them? What new technological knowledge did we gain? We recommend you set short deadlines to capture this content. For example, did your innovative pruning techniques result

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in measurable yield? Did you gain new knowledge in your attempts at precision viticulture? Did your attempts to reduce smoke taint fail or flourish? Did the use of puncheons

over traditional barrels result in desired sensory profiles? Any new knowledge gained through a systematic experimental process is the essence of SR&ED. And, essentially, in-

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novation equals dollars in the bank, thanks to SR&ED. In documenting innovative work, heed the advice of the authors of the Harvard Business Review article: assign simple tasks with the ‘illusion of urgency.’ The authors state: “Short deadlines on urgent tasks elicit attention. Those tasked with the assignment are more likely to complete it, less likely to procrastinate on it, and less likely to spend superfluous money on it than if they were given the same task with a less-urgent deadline.” Thus, setting a weekly deadline to record new knowledge gained will result in 52 iterations of evidence in support of your SR&ED claim, and better success in having the claim accepted as filed by the CRA. Certainly, keeping the longterm goal of claim acceptance in mind (and money in the bank) will assist in compelling you and your vineyard and cellar staff to record measures of success and failure accurately and often. So, if this is your inaugural attempt at claiming SR&ED, think back through your year and summarize any challenges and new knowledge gained as best you can. Then, when your new fiscal year is about to begin, start documenting your research and experimentation contemporaneously. Use pen and paper, an Excel worksheet or a time-keeping app. Cap-

ture innovation in the way that feels most convenient and practical. Think systematically and follow the scientific method and the progression of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Record your results, conclusions and new hypotheses often, and always note units of measurement. Explain what worked and what didn’t. Note that failure still qualifies as SR&ED, as now you know what not to do. Set short deadlines and follow through. In a 2009 article in the European Journal of Social Psychology, “How are habits formed: modelling habit formation in the real world,” the authors conclude that it takes a minimum of two months for a new task to become habitual, and that “missing one opportunity to perform the behaviour did not materially affect the habit formation process. With repetition of a behaviour in a consistent context, automaticity increases...” As this article suggests, it may take a while to establish your new SR&ED documentation process, but perseverance will pay off and your SR&ED time-tracking efforts will eventually become commonplace. RSG Revenue Services Group is here to help you through the SR&ED process. Your business – and most importantly your bottom line – will benefit. ■ Carla Elm, VP RSG http://revenueservices.ca/

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