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Karnail Singh Sidhu BC Viticulturist of the Year Automating the Vineyard Tracking Cherries

2020 Innovation Issue


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CONTENTS

The machine plantings are the initial step in setting up this new vineyard for future automation, with perfectly straight vine rows and even spacing.

6 Publisher's View Lisa Olson 8 News & Events

Photo by Mission Hill Estate Winery

10 Innovations 15 Product Profiles

8

BC Wineries are reopening with new guest experiences.

18 Karnail Singh Sidhu BC Viticulturist of the Year 21 Automating the Vineyard 23 Food Tracking Essential to Public Health 25 Marketing Mix – Leeann Froese 27 S  eeds of Growth – Glen Lucas 29 R  ules of the Game – Ernie Keenes

23

New tracking technology to keep the food supply secure. 4

Innovation 2020

31 The Word on Wine – Carie Jones 34 Canadian Winemaker Series: Justin Hall Karnail Singh Sidhu, receiving the BC Viticulturalist of the Year Award and Narinder Sidhu of Kalala Organic Estate Winery. Cover photo by Tom Walker.

Photo by Tom Walker

INNOVATION ISSUE 2020


O NA A LL O RR II G G II N

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 PUBLISHER’S VIEW | LISA OLSON

Advancements & Innovations Vol. 61, No 4 Innovation 2020

O

ne of my favourite editions is the Innovation Issue, because I love new ideas and people doing cool stuff, so I’m very excited to share what we found for you for this edition!

Someone we are pleased to be covering in this issue is Karnail Singh Sidhu, who is a talented winemaker and all around nice man. He is well respected and admired by his colleagues and community, you will want to read this heart warming success story. He came over here from India with his family in 1993, with only $40 US in his pocket, which was all the Indian government would let them leave with. After reading the story, I immediately emailed writer, Tom Walker and wrote, ‘What a beautiful article!!’ To which he replied, 'Thank you, he is a very nice guy, I could’ve written another few thousand words." We visited Northern Cherries in June to take a few photos of their newly expanded packing line and were super impressed with the size of this operation. It’s very clean, organized, and so high

Publisher Lisa Olson Photo by Kimberly Brooke Photography

Thinking about innovations during this time in the world seems a bit strange. However, the more we looked, the more we discovered that there are lots of new advancements and developments driven by the response to the pandemic. Wineries have created virtual tastings, virtual events and virtual parties. Some wineries have created intimate appointments and tastings for in-person visits while following the distancing requirements.

Established in 1959

tech. The new tracking system they’ve implemented improves the grading and sorting of the cherries. Congratulations go out to longtime master winemaker, Howard Soon who received an Honorary Doctor of Science Award from UBC. You’ll like reading about the other new products and advancements, such as edible packaging, compostable bottles and can holders, robots to pick weeds, using bees to improve crop quality and so many others. It saddens me hearing about the businesses that have closed down, struggle to survive and of the families that have trouble making ends meet. I hope that during this time of reading that things are going well for you and you are able to make the best of your season and adapt to this changing world with a smile on your face (most days) and in good health. ■

Editor Gary Symons Graphic Design Stephanie Symons Writers Leeann Froese, Carie Jones, Kimberly Brooke Photography, Ernie Keenes, Glen Lucas, Ronda Payne, Tom Walker Contact lisa@orchardandvine.net Orchard & Vine Magazine Ltd. Mailing Address 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 the Okanagan, Kootenays, Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Washington State and across Canada. Orchard & Vine is also available online. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40838008 Copies should be sent to:

Providing Canadian Grapevine Solutions BRITISH COLUMBIA Nathan Phillips p. 250-809-6040 bcsales@vinetech.ca 6

Innovation 2020

NOVA SCOTIA Ian Kaye p. 902.740.2493 nssales@vinetech.ca

ONTARIO Wes Wiens/Tina Wall p. 905.984.4324 sales@vinetech.ca

QUEBEC Wes Wiens/Tina Wall p. 905.984.4324 sales@vinetech.ca

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NEWS & EVENTS

Wholesale Pricing for BC Bars & Restaurants

Photo by Wines of British Columbia, WineBC.com

It may have taken a global pandemic, but the Province of BC has approved a wholesale pricing model that will allow liquor licensees to purchase beer, wine and spirits at reduced cost. The measure will be in place from the end of July 2020 until March 31, 2021, when the program will be reviewed. “The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, badly hurting the more than 190,000 British Columbians who work within the sector,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Offering a wholesale discount for licensees was something we were explor-

Black Hills Celebrates Nota Bene Black Hills Estate Winery usually throws a big public party to launch their latest Nota Bene vintage. This year, with safety and social distancing in mind, the winery is taking the party online, and to make it special for their customers, is including some of Canada’s most celebrated personalities, all to applaud the 20th anniversary of Nota Bene. Customers who purchase 12 bottles of the 2018 Nota Bene vintage will receive special access to the 20th Anniversary Virtual Nota Bene Release Party, held online on July 17. The exclusive party will feature a live music performance by recording artist Steven Page, joined in conversation by Jason Priestley, Erin Cebula, and 2018 Winter Olympic gold medal winner Kelsey Serwa. Winemaker Ross Wise MW (Master of Wine) will kick off the party with a guided tasting of the 2018 vintage.

ing before COVID-19, but after the onset of the pandemic we accelerated efforts in order to support these community businesses as they try to find their feet.” Restaurants, bars and pubs now pay the wholesale price, plus a retail markup. The new model will have licensees pay only the wholesale price of the products they order. “This change recognizes the restaurant sector’s important role in supporting tourism activity throughout the province,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

Castoro de Oro Wine in a Can The Similkameen Valley’s Castoro de Oro created a bit of wine history, becoming the first winery to offer premium, VQA wine in a can, made from 100 per cent BC estate-grown grapes. The View Winery in BC offers sparkling wine in a can under the “Bling” brand, but Castoro de Oro’s offering is the first for a premium still table wine. It was co-developed with Vessel Packaging of Vancouver.

Expansion at Ciao Bella West Kelowna's popular Ciao Bella winery is expanding, thanks to growing sales of their Italian-styled wines. Formerly a small, boutique winery, Ciao Bella has recently completed a new Norsteel building for producing their wines, and Famiglia Inc. (Italian for 'Family Incorporated') is also putting in 1,100 more vines for Pinot Gris, which will be ready for wine production in four years. Their acclaimed winemaker Jim Faulkner also says the company is now able to help other small winemakers. "We’re in a position to grow our own winery and also help other small wineries who may not have full facilities, as we have three-phase power, a wine press, filtering and so on." Sharon, Olivia, Roberto and Antonio Fiume and winemaker Jim Faulkner. 8

Innovation 2020


BC Wineries are Opening with Care

What’s changed is the re-opening of BC tasting rooms with enhanced safety protocols around social distancing, reserving ahead, group size, and sanitizing procedures. BC wineries have put in place a COVID-19 Safety Plan in adherence with BC government regulations and guide-

lines for safe and worry free wine tasting experiences. This is the year to enjoy the wine experience in smaller groups with a friend or two. Also, each winery’s safety protocols differ, so check beforehand if reservations are required. Typically, the tasting experience will be more structured and take a bit more time, but treat this as an opportunity to savour and enjoy the experience.

Photo by Checkmate Artisinal Winery

In our new normal, some things remain the same and some things have changed regarding tasting and purchasing BC wines. Whether it is opening tasting rooms with care for everyone’s safety, shipping our wines to consumers, or offering curbside pick-ups, BC continues to enjoy sharing the experience of local wines with wine lovers.

Thankfully, the one thing that hasn't changed is the superb quality of BC wines, so take your time, enjoy, and stay safe!

Congratulations Dr. Howard Soon Howard Soon, Master Winemaker at Vanessa Vineyards, has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from UBC.

Annie's Café & Lounge Opens at Frind Winery

He has also served as a volunteer on various industry and government boards, including the Scientific Advisory

Frind Winery has added to the food offerings at West Kelowna wineries with the opening of Annie’s Cafe and Lounge. The Cafe is situated on the beach with stunning views, and is open for breakfast and lunch.

Photo by vanessavineyard.com

Photo by Gary Symons

For almost four decades, Howard Soon has been on the leading edge of winemaking innovation in British Columbia. From 1980 to 2017, he was winemaker at Sandhill Wines, where he became one of the most recognized names in Canada’s wine industry and the recipient of many national and international awards. Board for Grape and Wine Genomics, a research project involving Genome BC and Genome Canada.

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Innovation 2020

9


INNOVATIONS

Compostable Eco-Six Pack Ring Years ago, our editor and his family found a seagull on the beach that was inextricably tangled up in a plastic sixpack ring. If they hadn’t freed the bird, it would certainly have died. Other wild animals, like whales or dolphins, are often harmed by ingesting plastics, and plastic generally has become a major issue for pollution on land and in waterways. Now, a company called E6PR™ (Eco Six Pack Ring) has developed the first ecofriendly six pack ring made from byproduct waste and other compostable materials, designed to replace the plastic rings, which are damaging to our environment.

When disposed of properly, the E6PR™ finds its way to a composting facility, where it will degrade in just days. In cases when it’s unfortunately left out in open land or a water system, it will degrade in a matter of weeks. The material is also made from compostable organic materials that do not cause harm to wildlife in case of ingestion. The company’s six pack rings have been featured on CNN and Time Magazine, among others, and have already been adopted by more than 150 companies worldwide.

Paper Beer Bottles an Unlikely but Eco-Friendly Option European beer giant the Carlsberg Group has unveiled two new research prototypes in their quest to create a sustainable beer bottle made of … wait for it … paper. While it sounds counter-intuitive, Carlsberg and its research partners have developed two versions of its Green Fibre Bottle, which are the first 'paper bottles' to contain beer. Carlsberg also announced it has been joined by other leading global companies who are united in their vision of developing sustainable packaging through the advancement of paper bottle technology. These developments are a key part of

Carlsberg’s sustainability program, Together Towards ZERO, including its commitment to ZERO carbon emissions at its breweries and a 30% reduction in its full value chain carbon footprint by 2030. Myriam Shingleton, Vice President Group Development at Carlsberg Group, said, "We continue to innovate across all our packaging formats, and we are pleased with the progress we've made on the Green Fibre Bottle so far. We're driven by our constant pursuit of better, to create more sustainable packaging solutions that help people to live more sustainable lives.”

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Edible Plant Derived Packaging extends value and increases operational flexibility for growers/suppliers and retailers.

A California company has come up with what may be the ultimate in sustainable packaging options for fruit and vegetables.

Apeel is a company formed to fight the global food waste crisis, but its solution may also lead to a decline in packaging waste.

Apeel Sciences has developed an edible, plant-derived coating that acts as a little extra “peel” on the surface of fruits and vegetables, doubling to tripling the shelf life of many produce types without the need for refrigeration.

Apeel produce, which is currently commercially available for avocados, citrus fruits and organic apples, maintains its just-harvested quality, flavour and freshness longer than produce without Apeel. Consumers therefore have a longer window of time to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, which in turn reduces the

It does this by slowing the rate of water loss and oxidation, which are the main factors that lead to spoilage. By introducing more time, access and freshness across the supply chain, Apeel’s solution

level of food that is wasted at home. At the retail level, Apeel is on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from going to waste in 2020. https://apeelsciences.com/

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INNOVATIONS

Weeding Robots Will Save Time, And Your Back!

Every farmer in the world with an aching back… which is EVERY FARMER EVER… has undoubtedly dreamed of having their weeding done by a robot. Well, wait no more. The French tech firm Naio Technologies has unleashed a range of specialized robots on the world of weeds, and one named TED is designed specifically for weeding vineyards. A “Multifunctional vineyard weeding

robot,” as their website describes it, TED is a highly precise weeding tool for vineyards. TED’s main asset is that it frees the hands and minds of wine growers so that they can spend more time on tasks with a higher value-add, and not on stooping to pull weeds. Fifteen TED robots are maintaining vineyards in France, and sales are now expanding into other countries. www.naio-technologies.com

New Tech Has Honeybees Working for Farmers enter the dispenser through a one-way return flap and exit through another portal. As they do so, they pass through and pick up powder material in BVT’s Vectorpak™, taking it with them as they leave the hive.

No one can outwork the humble honeybee, and probably more than one farmer has dreamed of being able to put these industrious little creatures to work on the farm. Now that dream is a reality, as honeybees have been drafted to work the land through a new technology called “Bee Vectoring.” Mississauga-based Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) literally uses commercially reared bees to provide highly targeted pest and disease management solutions. The company harnesses the power of nature’s best workers by using a proprietary dispenser to load the bees up with a powder containing beneficial chemicals for crops. BVT’s groundbreaking system provides highly targeted and effective pest and

disease control, improving the quality of crops, with minimal resistance buildup and a significant reduction in chemical load. The system is simple to use, requires minimal training, and delivers an impressive total return on investment. Bee Vectoring Technology has developed an inoculum dispenser system that is incorporated into the lid of a commercial bee hive. Commercially-reared bees

Inside the dispenser is BVT’s Vectorpak, a removable, easy-to-use tray that contain Vectorite, a specially formulated, patented powder made from all natural material. Vectorite adheres to bees, aiding in the transport of added active ingredients to the crop of your choice. Biological controls, bio stimulants or plant amendments are active ingredients that are added to Vectorite within Vectorpaks. This single or stackable powder mixture is what bees pick up as they leave the hive and deliver to plants. http://www.beevt.com/

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12 Innovation 2020


It Takes a Weed to Catch a Weed It’s said that it takes a thief to catch a thief, and now scientists say it also takes a weed to kill a weed. Thanks to a seed grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) has discovered a new approach to control and eradicate invasive plants and weeds. Vineland’s innovative solution utilizes the unique natural chemistry of invasive plants as a source of new sustainable control tools.

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Innovation 2020 13


PRODUCT PROFILES

Mahindra Roxor Now Available in BC

Move over Jeep; the Roxor from Mahindra is here, offering workers and offroad enthusiasts a rugged new choice of vehicle, but you won’t find it at your local car dealer.

upgrade of the Willy’s jeeps from World War II, and maintains an all-steel body with a fully boxed, ladder construction frame.

Abbotsford-based Handler’s Equipment has now added the Mahindra Roxor to their lineup of agricultural and construction equipment for sale. To continue meeting the needs of the mining, construction, agriculture and off-road communities in British Columbia, ROXOR arrived on-site earlier this week.

The Roxor is designed to out-compete smaller, lighter utility vehicles with a starting price of only $16,599. A 5:38 axle gear ratio allows the ROXOR to climb hills effortlessly and livens up the powertrain, enhancing power responsiveness. Off-road enthusiasts have been buying up Roxors, but it really is designed as a work vehicle.

While the Roxor somewhat resembles the iconic Jeep, it’s smaller and is really designed to take on the ATV and utility vehicle market. It looks like a serious

“We saw ROXOR continue to gain strength and momentum in 2019,” said Joel Venema at Handlers Equipment. “The ROXOR is strong, tough,

and vastly outperforms light-duty utility vehicles when it comes to getting real work done. It will be great for fleet and ranch/agricultural work around here. No other side-by-side can compare.” See more at https://www.handlersequipment.com/mahindra-roxor-powerful-off-road-side-by-side/

CFP Aims High For Growers with Van Wamel Perfect Grading Line When your business model is based on maximizing returns for some of B.C.’s best fruit growers, you set the bar high. This is the goal Janice Niedzielski, production manager for Consolidated Fruit Packers, had in mind when she first consulted with Fruittek Canada to develop a grading line strategy for their new planned investment. “We had the opportunity to visit several of Fruittek Canada’s installations in operation before deciding that their gentle and precise approach to fruit grading would be the best fit for our grower base,” Niedzielski said.

The Van Wamel Perfect Unigrader is known worldwide for its gentle transitions and robust vision sorting technology, which in combination have helped growers and packers around the world deliver uncompromised final pack quality that looks as fresh in the box as it did in the orchard. Van Wamel’s Unigrader is the culmination of several small improvements from its predecessor the Unicup grader. One of the most notable improvements is the isolated weight sorting module mounted on an independent frame to ensure extremely precise weight measurements. Other improvements include larger, more forgiving cups, even gentler transitions, as well as enhancements to the singulator rollers to ensure full

14 Innovation 2020

rotation of the fruit under the cameras to visually scan 100 per cent of the fruit surfaces, regardless of fruit shape or variety. All these improvements are augmented by one of the fruit industry’s most adept and user friendly optical sorting systems by Ellips. High resolution frame captures, and a visual 3D model of the fruit, allow for precise external defect detection, sizing and color sorting, resulting in very consistent and visually appealing final packs. With the 2020 peach and apple season fast approaching, CFP is excited to start realizing the benefits their new sorting technology will bring to their expanding grower base and markets, said Niedzielski.


Aromaloc™ The Sweet Smell of Success When it comes to tasting and smelling wine, the human nose is our body’s most mission-critical sensory organ. The human nose is capable of differentiating between thousands of unique scents, and it’s our olfactory abilities that allow us to discern the sheer variety of flavours that are offered up in a single sip. The tongue, by contrast, is limited to sensing broader and coarser indicators of taste, such as salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. To truly taste a wine, it’s the nose that picks up flavour scents. Simply put, aromas can make or break a wine. Their presence — or absence — can spell the difference between a premium product and cheap plonk. The problem is, aromas are stripped from wine by the CO2 produced during fer-

mentation. If the winemaker can smell aromas outside the barrel, they have forever left the developing wine, and there is nothing on the market that can bring them back. But what if those same aromas never escaped? AromaLoc, based in the Penticton/Naramata region, has invented and patented a method to solve this challenge. The AromaLoc™ system is a totally additive-free, hands-off process that prevents aromas from leaving the wine, and with no tampering or interfering with the fermentation process. Intervention only occurs with the headspace gas composition above the juice, and this produces desirable changes in the fermenting liquid below. Continuing R&D has resulted in a muchimproved system, lowering winery costs and improving results. Fuelled by its

steady product improvement, this small, innovative BC company is starting to turn industry heads. Better aromas mean more attractive wines, and ultimately an enhanced bottom line for innovative companies. With AromaLoc,™ winemakers can enjoy the sweet smell of success! www.aromaloc.com

The Aesthetics of Effervescence MANNOSPARK® is a yeast cell wall manoprotein that helps lengthen the foam and refines the bubble sizes to ensure elegance. The quality of the bubbles and foam is incredibly important to the consumer, with a more generous bubble collar being desired. Mannospark will allow for improvement in the size of the bubbles, and the thickness and stability of the collar, in order to obtain a harmonious and persistent foam in sparkling wines. MANNOSPARK® contributes to the improvement of the bead and foaming in sparkling wines:

• Contributes to stabilisation of tartrates and colloids in wine. • Makes the bead finer, ensuring its elegance. • Favours bubble persistence at the surface in the glass. • Allows the formation of a more generous collar of bubbles, which is more stable over time. • Respects the freshness and fruit of the wine. • Does not affect wine filterability. cellartek.com

Delivering Powerful Grading Solutions Affordably Multiscan S50C Cherry Pre-sorter

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Grading solutions B.C. fruit producers have grown to trust, with 10 grading systems operating in B.C. in 2020! Call: (604)855-8062 or Visit: www.fruittek.com

Innovation 2020 15


PRODUCT PROFILES

Sophisticated Glass Wine Bottle Designs

The global packaging giant Ardagh Group believes both the look and the ‘feel’ of bottles are critical when consumers choose one wine over another. So Ardagh has introduced three new textures that can be applied to a variety of wine bottles. Ardagh’s new REMO™, CUADRAS™ and VINA™ designs deliver an emotional connection to the consumer using unique shapes and textures, thus establishing a more interactive consumer experience. The designs provide inspiration and ideas to wineries interested in using textures to create brand differentiation on store shelves. “Innovative bottle designs provide wineries with opportunities for differen-

tiation in today’s market,” said John T. Shaddox, Chief Commercial Officer for Ardagh’s North American Glass business unit. “Ardagh’s new glass wine bottle options leverage a modern, premium look and feel that respond to consumer interest.” Ardagh has been producing 100 per cent and endlessly recyclable glass bottles for more than 125 years, starting in the United States. Ardagh now offers a wide selection of premium wine bottles in a variety of colors, sizes, styles and finishes which are produced from its glass manufacturing facilities located in the heart of the major wine-producing areas in North America.

To view Ardagh’s extensive wine bottle stock portfolio, visit ardaghgroup.com/ wine2020.

Multiparameter pH Meter Hanna HI2020 edge® Multiparameter pH Meter. Sleek and Great value ph meter package. This portable multi-parameter benchtop meter has been modified to include a specific wine ph electrode HI10480. We have also included ph buffer 7.01 and 3.0, storage and cleaner solution as well as a bonus stirrer. http://ecom.bosagrape.com

Intelligent Pump All In One from LIVERANI is an intelligent pump that allows the operator to organize, monitor and schedule all fluid transfer operations in the cellar.

ShapeArt Closures Iconic closures for distinctive brands, you create the shape according to your needs: Dimensional and recyclable closures that demand attention and elevate the world’s most exclusive wine brands. Amcor’s ShapeArt offers an innovative way for brands to set themselves apart – both in bars and on retail shelves. The closures’ distinctive customized shapes make a powerful impression on consumers. cellartek.com

16 Innovation 2020

On the 7 inch multifunction touch control panel it’s possible to view the transfer data in progress, program the volumes to be transferred, and record the various actual operations (traceabilty). From a simple intuitive menu the operator can perform the following operations: free transfer, filling, barrel filling, pump over, traceability and diagnostics. cellartek.com


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Innovation 2020 17


Photos by Tom Walker

Karnail Singh Sidhu – BC Viticulturist of

Karnail Singh Sidhu, BC Viticulturalist of the Year Award winner and Narinder Sidhu of Kalala Organic Estate Winery.

The land is a gift to you from your next generation so keep it good for them… and if you want to live on a farm and raise your family there, it should be organic. Karnail Singh Sidhu By Tom Walker Emigrating from India as a young man was the start of a long journey in the wine grape industry for Karnail Singh Sidhu, viticulturist and owner of Kalala Organic Estate Winery in West Kelowna. Karnail is careful to give credit to the many people who helped him with that journey, and that community mindedness in part is what makes him a top member of the grape growing industry. In June, Karnail was awarded the first BC Grapegrowers Association(BCGA) award for viticulturist of the year. “What really stood out for the judges was Karnail's community engagement,” says John Bayley, president of the BCGA. “He is open to new ideas, cooperates with on-farm research, participates in industry events and shares with other growers.” 18 Innovation 2020

The viticulturist of the year award was drawn up to spotlight the best wine grape growers in BC, Bayley says. “To commend those in our industry who rarely get the public recognition, yet provide the grapes needed for the fantastic wines we produce.” This is a peer judged award, Bayley points out, with a BCGA board member, an industry member and a government researcher conducting vineyard visits the previous August. Bayley was full of praise for Karnail as a grower and member of the community, saying all of his colleagues in the industry “... had nothing but kind, supportive and encouraging words to say ...” about his positive attitude and vineyard practices, adding that many spoke about the “very high level of quality wine they produced” using his grapes.

The view from Kalala Organic Estate Winery. Karnail came to Canada with his family in 1993 not as a viticulturist, but as an electrical engineer, but the Canadian government was reluctant to recognize his qualifications and he turned to labouring in the fruit industry to earn an income. His parents had been farmers in India and farming was part of the high school curriculum. “We arrived in Surrey in July and we started picking blueberries,” Karnail re-


the Year

calls. That led to seasonal farm jobs in the Okanagan, including working at Le Comte Estate winery, now the site of Arterra brand’s See Ya Later Ranch. That’s where he got the idea of opening a winery. “My brothers and I didn’t know what was involved, but selling fermented grape juice for 12 dollars a bottle (1994 prices) sounded pretty good,” Karnail chuckles. “We agreed that we should do it someday.”

His first full-time job in the industry was at Summerhill Winery, where Alan Marks was the winemaker. “I have always really appreciated Steven Cipes and Allan Marks. If they hadn’t given me a job, I would probably not be here today,” Karnail says. “My belief is whoever helps you, you don’t forget about those people.”

yard manager. The organic practices jibed with his family farming background and their views on chemicals. In India there was a time when the government would spray Karnail’s entire neighbourhood with DDT to control mosquitos. “They would demand to come and spray inside houses as well,” Karnail recalls. “But my father refused to let them in.”

Summerhill was an excellent fit, and over 10 years Karnail went on to become vine-

From his first jobs pruning and picking grapes, Karnail went on to complete the

Innovation 2020 19


viticulture technology course at Okanagan College, with a sponsorship from Summerhill. “Alan was always ready to help me,” he says. “Over the years we have become like brothers.” Owning a winery might seem like a strange business choice for someone who does not drink alcohol. “I like wine, but wine doesn’t like me,” Karnail explains. “I taste all the wine, but I spit it out.” But he remembers the pact he made with his brothers to open a winery. “We started by leasing a 10-acre vineyard here in West Kelowna in 2001, and we bought our first 10 acres in Oliver in 2004,” he recalls. The home property was bought in 2005 and they opened the winery in 2008. All told, they now own 70 acres of organic vineyards, the majority of which are in West Kelowna. The winery bottles about 6,000 cases of wine per year. They also sell bulk wine and grapes, all organic. The vineyards are home to over a dozen varietals including the top Okanagan grapes as well as Blaufrankisch (for blending) and the hybrid Vidal Blanc (for late harvest and ice wine). Not drinking the wine does not dull Karnail’s passion for farming the grapes. ‘I’m good at growing things and Alan always told me 90 to 95% of the quality of the wine is in the grapes.” Organic methods are a key for the future, Karnail says. He recalls a saying from his birthplace in India. “The land is a gift to you from your next generation, so keep it good for them,” he says. “And if you want to live on a farm and raise

Karnail Sidhu receiving the award from John Bayley BCGA president. your family there, it should be organic.”

that help to control mildew.”

The second point was brought home years ago when one of his daughters was playing in the vineyard and nibbling at the fruit. “I didn’t have to rush out and tell her to get out of the vineyard and stop eating the grapes.”

Karnail’s vineyard management is focused on preventing problems rather than delivering a cure. He is a fan of early leaf removal to open the vineyard canopy to light and air. While organic practices may limit his yields to some extent, that may also be a blessing. “If you want good wine you don’t want large tonnage anyway,” he points out.

Karnail’s vine rows don’t stand on weed free soil, so he lets natural cover crops fill in the understory. Biodiversity in the field helps keep everything in balance, he says. “Some people think that our vineyards don’t look nice,” he notes. “But we did some research and we found out that with high vegetation between the rows, there are different fungi that live there

Tibor (Tibby) Erdelyi, who also came from Summerhill, has been the Kalala winemaker from the start, and Alan Marks consults on their top tier wines. The Dostana wines are made to recognize Alan’s input, explains Karnail. “Dostana means friendship. We don’t make it every vintage. If Alan doesn’t think it should be made, we don’t.”

Photos by Tom Walker

Giving back to the community is also important for Karnail and his family. Along with local causes such as the Food Bank he regularly sends money back to his home village of Kalala to support the school there.

Gazebo at Kalala Organic Estate Winery. 20 Innovation 2020

A village legend says that many years ago farmers came upon a wolf and a lamb sitting peacefully together. Inspired by that coexistence, they moved their village to that spot. Kalala means “miracle place” a fitting description for a successful vineyard and winery, at the end of a long journey. ■


Photos by Tom Walker

AUTOMATING THE VINEYARD

Workers connecting the dripline to the new irrigation system while others follow the planting machine ensuring the vines are straight.

By Tom Walker At a new vineyard in south-east Kelowna, the planting machine from Vinetech sets each vine exactly 1.1 meters apart, in perfectly straight rows spaced 2.1 meters. The crew is methodical, but they don’t have to hurry; with the planting machine they will get a lot done.

A lot of BC vineyards are using GPS technology to set out irrigation systems; we can use those maps and the measurements to help with the most precise set up of the vines. Wes Wiens

“The most we used to be able to plant by hand would be six to eight thousand vines on our very best day,” explains Wes Wiens, the owner of Vinetech from his head office in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario. “And that was with a crew of 14 workers.” The German-manufactured Wagner GPS planting machine can nearly triple that, he says. “Depending on the terrain, we can do somewhere between 18 to 20,000 vines now in a day, with a crew of four.” This is the third year coming out west for the Vinetech crew. They are working land owned by Stewart Family Estates (SFE), which also owns Quail’s Gate Winery in West Kelowna. The company has three of the Wagner machines and works in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, as well.

Ready for another row, the planting machine is just about to drop into the soil.

Innovation 2020 21


In addition to SFE, they have also planted blocks for Phantom Creek and Corcelettes wineries. “A lot of BC vineyards are using GPS technology to set out irrigation systems,” says Wiens. “We can use those maps and the measurements to help with the most precise set up of the vines.” Efficiency and crew size are important for Chad Douglas, Viticulturalist for SFE, as he is a bit behind where he’d like to be this year. “We were able to bring in all of the seasonal agriculture workers from Mexico that we had hoped for,” he says. "But one crew was under quarantine for two weeks in Vancouver and the extra precautions the company is taking to protect the workers in the current situation means everything takes a little bit longer.” Time and labour are only part of the reason Douglas has brought in the Vinetech crew. The machine plantings are the initial step in setting up this new vineyard for future automation, he explains. “There is a lot of technology that is out there now that helps to automate vineyard practices,” Douglas says. “But to get the best use of that technology, you need perfectly straight vine rows and even spacing.” Trimming and pruning equipment, as well as mechanical harvesters, work best when rows are evenly spaced and straight. “If the occasional vine is off center a machine might graze it and damage the vine,” Douglas notes. “And harvesters can really chew up wooden posts if they are out of line.” Douglas gets to avoid those difficulties as he directs the planting at these newest SFE vineyards, on the former Stewart Brothers Nursery property on the southeast Kelowna bench. The first vines went Workers hand load the bare-rooted dormant vines into the VineTech planter. The GPS receiver for the guidance system sits on an arm behind the tractor cab.

in there in 2017 and all told there will be 160 acres of an assortment of varietals suited to the site including Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gamy. “Satellite mapping technology helps us lay out the vineyard blocks in the most efficient way and the accuracy of the GPS planter makes sure we get the optimum spacing in our plantings,” Douglas says. Pinot Gris vines brought in from France ready to be loaded into the planter. 22 Innovation 2020

“You set up a vineyard for 30 to 40 years and you want it looking good,” adds

Douglas. With all the attention the winery is paying to sustainable farming, including addressing climate, soil, varieties, clones and root stock, this is just one more piece in trying to balance the vine, he says. “If everything is evenly spaced, the vines will get the same light penetration and you should be able to prune it the same, fertigate it the same and get the same results.” ■


Food Tracking Essential to Public Health By Ronda Payne A Kelowna cherry grower has created greater traceability of food with help from the province of BC and feds.

Hardeep Khela, owner of Kelowna’s Northern Cherries has been able to take a step towards greater efficiency with a $38,000 grant from the federal and provincial governments to improve traceability. Khela applied through the Traceability Knowledge Transfer program through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership in 2018 for equipment costing more than $100,000 to reduce manual entry and tracking from field to cooler for the company’s fresh cherries. Northern Cherries was one of 20 BC recipients. “We have to track everything,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if we have manual or electronic [systems].” Northern Cherries has about 10 or 15 cherry varieties throughout the 200 acres of orchards and also packs cherries for another four or five growers. While the new tracking system isn’t fully set up yet, Khela explains that it is already proving that things will be easier. “We have a number of people picking cherries, we have all their information. And our field supervisor, he assigns who is picking which row each day,” she explains. “We have a barcode given to ev-

Photo by Stephanie Symons

Tracking food is essential to public health, yet it’s not as easy as one might think. Consider fruits and vegetables. Knowing the details about their journey from field to packing house, to cooler and retailers is possible, but can often involve a number of manual, time-consuming and inefficient steps.

The packing house is ready to manage the incoming cherries with barcodes for more efficent tracking.

Our field supervisor assigns who is picking which row each day. We have a barcode given to each picker. We scan those barcodes when we do the count. Hardeep Khela ery picker. We scan those barcodes when we do the count.” Barcodes allow Khela to keep track of who picked which buckets, how many they picked and what to pay a piece work picker. The buckets are scanned when they enter the packing house and the picker information is stored, then replaced with data about the cherry va-

riety, block number, picking date and time, the lot and other details as the fruit goes into the bin. “On the packing line, all that information, that’s where the software helps a lot,” she says. “I will be able to manage the incoming fruit with the barcodes more efficiently.”

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Innovation 2020 23


Photo by Stephanie Symons

Grower information is also added to ensure those who have their cherries packed by Northern Cherries have the same traceability benefits. “It is all entered into the computer, then we pack one lot at a time,” she says. “Only one block, one variety is packed at one time.” The block’s information goes through the computer system and labels are generated as boxes are packed. The high-efficiency labelers purchased with the grant money and Northern Cherries’ own funds automatically apply the labels complete with the barcode and detailed information to the boxes. It’s a vast improvement over the old system where the line had to stop every 20 or 25 boxes in order to do the labelling or change over for a new lot. Now, the entry of each lot’s information happens from scanning buckets and bins prior to their entry into the packing line. As the boxes come off the line there is an automatic tally of what goes into the cooler. The new system is faster and more accurate. “I would go into the cooler and count with my notebook,” she says. “Sometimes you count the boxes one time, two times, three times. Now the computer does it all.” While this doesn’t complete the whole process for Northern Cherries, the automatic data entry and labelling make everything easier. Because the shipping tracing isn’t automatic or part of the new system yet, Khela must use her existing spread sheets and programs to track the movement of cherries from the cooler to sales outlets. However, the labels on the boxes ensure everything can be sourced back to the place and time it was picked no matter where they end up. In addition to helping with payroll and traceability, Khela believes the new system will also help with physical distancing requirements if COVID-19 protocols are still in place in the summer. “I think we can get away with fewer people,” she says. “If you have 10 people instead of 20 people, you’re managing your social distancing better than you did. We’ll also be able to bring expenses down.” She looks forward to a time when everything is integrated into one system from orchard to retailer, but is grateful for this big step towards that. “Now this should be very good,” she says. “If we have one program from start to end, it will be easier.” ■ 24 Innovation 2020


 MARKETING MIX | LEEANN FROESE

Throwback to the Innovation of EQ Instead, you may wish to market to personas. A persona is a profile of a fictitious character that is based on behavioral research and psychographics. Personas describe groups of users based on similar goals, motivations, and behavior (we have all heard about the meme persona given to a “Karen”). Personas group common elements among individuals that may span many different demographic categories, but they share patterns about motivations, aspirations, goals, activities, outcomes, and background for individuals.

Identifying Your Target Customer

As businesses reopen there is pent-up demand in the community from people craving to get out and have experiences, so you need to reach out and make sure people know what you have to offer. But, do you know who these people seeking travel and experiences are? Are they current customers or wine club members that need to know you are doing things differently, or are you seeking to attract brand new visitors and buyers? You may need to adjust your marketing and your message for both legacy and new customers, and first you need to think about your offering, who it will appeal to, and if you need to adjust your offering.

Have you identified a profile for your usual customer? Have you then taken time to define it, and target to that profile accordingly? You want to take this time to think about and create a target audience profile, because this is the group of customers most likely to respond positively to your marketing promotions, products, and services. The channels, language, and information you use to connect may not be as effective with one demographic as it is with another. Finding your target audience definition will help you to create the messaging that resonates with your customer. For example, if your usual average customer is 60 years old, your marketing tactics are going to be very different from those if most of your customers are in their 30s.

Throwback to EQ Great news for anyone offering a tourism experience seeking to identify a customer persona is that Destination Canada has done the work for you. Instead of defining people on age, income, gender, etcetera, they have looked deeper at people’s belief systems, social values, and view of the world. This approach was a major innovation when it was launched in 2013, as research uncovered that these

Traditional audience segments are based on demographics such as geographic location, age, gender, income, relationship status etc.

are the factors that drive people to seek out certain types of experiences. A leading-edge tourism marketing tool called EQ (Explorer Quotient) was created by Destination Canada and is a registered trademark of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). When the CTC launched it, they stated “since tourism is the business of selling experiences, a psychographic tool like EQ offers the tourism sector an advantage.” The Explorer Quotient is a marketing segmentation program based on demographic, social values, and behavioural research to identify nine traveler types; and ultimately, to help the most desirable travellers find the right products for their needs when visiting. In Canada, there are specific EQ Profiles that apply when visiting wine country. Based on the experiences offered and which Traveler Types are influencers and spend the most on a visit, suitable EQ Profiles* may be these four:

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Innovation 2020 25


• Cultural Explorers are defined by their love of constant travel and continuous opportunities to embrace, discover and immerse themselves in the culture, people and settings of the places they visit;

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• Authentic Experiencers are typically understated travellers looking for authentic, tangible engagement with destinations they seek, with a particular interest in understanding the history of the places they visit; • Free Spirits are highly social and openminded. Their enthusiasm for life extends to their outlook on travel. Experimental and adventurous, they indulge in high-end experiences that are shared with others; • Rejuvenators are family-oriented people who travel with others to escape from the stresses of everyday life to get pampered and indulge themselves.

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Destination Canada has an EQ Toolkit to aid you in applying EQ to your business. A deep dive into each of these profiles will allow you to study them for an indepth description and marketing tips, and to help you improve your positioning to meet the needs and expectations of your target types. This includes the best writing and photographic styles for each Explorer, so you can adjust your website, marketing tactics, promotional materials, and messaging to attract your target Explorer group. There’s far too much for this one article, but you can learn about it in depth at Destinationcanada.com. Using EQ, you can work to target the right customer, with the right offer and the right message. ■ *profiles courtesy of Destination Canada

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

Alyssa Meyer Account Manager BC Interior 250-575-5047 Alyssa.Meyer@td.com

Ted Hallman Account Manager BC Interior 250-470-3029 Ted.Hallman@td.com

Michelle Curcio Account Manager Vancouver Island 250-246-0859 Michelle.Curcio@td.com

Ramil Biclar B.Comm Relationship Manager Abbotsford & Fraser Valley 604-870-2229 Ramil.Biclar@td.com

Dave Gill Account Manager Abbotsford & Fraser Valley 604-870-2224 Baldev.Gill@td.com

Lynda Ferris BBA, CAPA Account Manager Abbotsford & Fraser Valley 604-870-2222 Lynda.Ferris@td.com

Rahan Ahmad Account Manager Abbotsford & Fraser Valley 604-870-3819 rahan.ahmad@td.com

Leeann Froese owns Town Hall Brands – a marketing and graphic design agency that specializes in branding and promoting in the areas of agriculture, beverage alcohol, food, and hospitality. See more at townhallbrands.com or on social @townhallbrands.

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26 Innovation 2020

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 SEEDS OF GROWTH | GLEN LUCAS

How will the Pandemic Impact Technology part of the image (or to distinguish the individual apples from an overlapping image of apples). This ability to complete an incomplete image, or to see an object from different perspectives and recognize it as the same object, is natural to a human being but for machines it is a difficult problem. However, rapid progress is being made in machine vision.

about how to achieve better food security for Canadians.

B

efore the pandemic, consumers and governments did not think much about food supply chains. Now, most Canadian consumers are probably aware that 40 per cent of the beef they eat comes from a single meat processing plant in High River, Alberta. Consumers are also aware of how dependent we are on foreign workers in our food processing plants and on our farms. While the food supply system did not break, the pandemic has shown that our food supply system is vulnerable to ‘external shocks’. Once the pandemic starts to end, we will enter into a public discussion of food security. Many farm organizations and governments are even now thinking

How will our food supply system evolve to reduce risks of an external shock like the pandemic? One obvious change will be increased automation of farms and processing plants. This automation will take labour efficiency to a new level. Entire categories of manual jobs will be eliminated and we will be less reliant on manual labour (foreign or domestic). The push for automated harvest machines will increase, in order to decrease reliance on manual labour.

A more immediate and basic gain in labour efficiency can be made through the use of self-propelled platforms in orchards. Previous attempts have shown a need for a selfleveling platform, perhaps with a combination of conveyor belts and gentle loading of bins. These machines now exist, and growers will be more tempted to invest due to the pressures on the labour supply.

But we are still a long way from a machine that can ‘think’ like a skilled apple harvester (let alone pruning and thinning). Nonetheless, progress is being made with ‘machine vision’. Machine vision is needed because it is not enough to refine or make clearer the picture of an apple on the tree. What is needed is to be able to remove the image of the leaf in front of the apple and fill in the missing

There exists enormous amounts of data in the tree fruit sector that are simply being collected and not utilized. The pandemic shows that using data to assess a situation

(e.g. determine which strains of the virus are spreading fastest or have the highest mortality) and to do contact tracing is essential. Similarly, the food system needs to increase its ability to use data - to improve efficiency, to guide products to the best markets taking into account the incremental costs of gaining that market, to anticipate how consumers in different countries respond to different types of apples or cherries. For example, we have a tremendous amount of production data on farms, but unfortunately, a lot of it is written down and not in electronic format. We have a tremendous amount of storage data and also retail sales data. It is not linked. There is no learning possible, unless we do special research in limited situations - as we do now. However, rather than sporadic improvements by collecting data for specialized research projects, linking the existing data could lead to enormous

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Innovation 2020 27


and consistent gains for the food system.

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Another area that has changed as a result of the pandemic is the commerce of selling and transporting goods. In order to better manage the flow of goods from producer to packer to retail market, better tracking is needed. Once the information on location, transfer between sites, and the status of the product (e.g. date packed, quality and size, variety, temperature regime in storage, transportation method and time in transit), then management of the system for efficiency can be assessed and implemented. Up until now, these improvements were from periodic studies or system breakdowns. Now, the information will be available constantly and assessed continuously. The age of “blockchain” has arrived, where data will follow a product throughout the system. This ability to trace and build food product information at each stage will result in enormous change and improvements in our food system and food security. Beyond all of these possible technology changes, food security requires a fundamental re-thinking of our food system. Has government policy to achieve the lowest food prices helped or harmed our food security? Has our increasing reliance on consolidated packers and retailers increased or decreased food security? Are we sharing the gains in efficiency and food security fairly between all of the participants in the food system? Developing new technologies and answering basic questions on food security will be an outcome of the world pandemic of 2020. ■ Glen Lucas, General Manager BCFGA

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 RULES OF THE GAME | ERNIE KEENES

Justice for Hybrids ministering and enforcing the VQA regulation in BC is the British Columbia Wine Authority. The VQA regulations do not guarantee that BC wine is “good” or that you will enjoy your wine, and, apparently unlike the Ontario VQA assessments, they do not regulate typicity of wines (that is, that a wine labelled Gerwurztraminer will taste like “Gewurztraminer”). Tasting panels, scientific analysis, and audits simply assure clean, fault-free wine from grapes grown in BC in a GI or sub-GI zone, and wine labels that communicate this accurately. The regulations involve other factors, but they are tangential to my focus on hybrids in this article.

ternational varietals were planted to complete with the expected flood of imported wines.

T

his year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Vintners' Quality Alliance, the British Columbia wine industry's rules of self-governance. The purpose of this article is to examine one relatively small aspect of those rules for their justice and fairness, and relevance for the future.

You can describe the history of the BC wine industry in three phases. The first phase was the production of mostly sweet port and sherry-style wines made with indigenous North American grapes. The second phase, beginning in the 1960s, focused on dry red and white table wines from grapes that were hardy enough to survive North American winters. The third phase begins pretty precisely in 1988, the beginning of the Canada-US/North American Free Trade Agreement, when many hybrid vines were pulled out and “noble” in-

The achievement of palatable table wines – without the “foxy” flavours that dominated dry wines made with North America grapes - from vines that survived the winter was accomplished with grapes from European hybrid vines. For reds these included Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, Chambourcin, Chelois, and de Chaunac. For whites there were Seyval Blanc and Vidal. In the wake of the FTA transition to the third and modern phase of the industry, some plots of hybrids remain and continue to provide distinctive wines of interest from many vineyards and wineries.

One of the things that the VQA regulations include is a long list of grape varieties that are eligible for VQA designation. Grapes not on the list can not make wine with a VQA certification. That does not mean that wine, including blends, made from unlisted grapes cannot be made and sold, but it cannot be VQA-certified. This matters from a commercial standpoint in that many grocery stores, especially some of those in Save-on-Foods stores,

The VQA regulations, which came into force with the third phase of the industry, were designed to reassure consumers that local wines came from local vines and were similar in style and quality to the expected growth in imports. The regulations were especially firm in banning indigenous North American vitis labrusca vines from inclusion as VQA wines. The body responsible for ad-

have VQA-only licences, so these wines are not available to these markets. In Europe there is a growing interest in hybrids in response to climate change and pest and disease resistance, and in North America hybrid development is driven by a desire to grow vines that will survive the winter and produce wines absent of the “foxy” flavours associated with indigenous vine DNA. A major developer of hybrids in Europe is Valentin Blattner, and there are substantial plantings of so-called Blattner hybrids (such as Cabernet Foch and Petite Milo) in the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. In North America a major developer of hybrids is the University of Minnesota, and some of these Minnesota hybrids, in particular Marquette, la Crescent, and Frontenac, are growing in the northern Okanagan and Thompson areas. There is a long list of Blattner hybrids eligible for VQA designation in the regulations, but the Minnesota hybrids are not eligible. Why? Part of the answer is like finding criminals in your ancestry.com

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DNA profile! There is science and politics in the reasoning. When I asked a BCWA staff member about this, the scientific answer was that when you look into the DNA provenance of the Minnesota hybrids there is too much North American DNA, that could introduce “foxy” flavours into the wine. However, if you look at the Minnesota hybrids in the Jancis Robinson et. al. volume on wine grapes you find that their DNA provenance is extremely complex. For example, they note that la Crescent is 45% vinifera, 28% riparia, and less than 10% each rupestris, labrusca and aestivalis. Here is where the politics comes in. Getting on the list of VQA-approved grapes is also subject to a vote amongst BCWA membership, and so far BCWA members have voted to keep Minnesota hybrids off the list. Tim Martinson and Bruce Reisch report that in 2009 the European Union relaxed its regulations regarding hybrids for environmental, health and cost reasons, and producers are responding with a reconsideration of hybrids. They argue that the distinction between hybrid and vinifera is becoming less useful, and that “current programs are using elite cultivars with excellent wine quality as parents along with lines carrying known disease resistance verified through DNA testing.” [Wine Business Monthly Wine Analytics 08/07/2018] The decision to keep the Minnesota hybrids off the VQA list is unfair to those vineyards and wineries that have chosen, or may wish, to experiment with these vines. It is also unfair to consumers who may wish to purchase these wines from stores with VQA-only licences. The ban on labrusca and other North American vine varieties made sense in the transition to the modern BC wine industry in the 1990s. But the mature industry of today and tomorrow faces new challenges, and North American hybrids could make a contribution. There is no obvious reason for a simple ban. Test and taste the wines, and if they do not measure up, then reject them. ■ Ernie Keenes is a retired journalist and political scientist. He works in wine retail and is a partner in a (strictly amateur) vineyard and winery in West Kelowna. 30 Innovation 2020


 THE WORLD ON WINE | CARIE JONES

BC Wineries Quick to Respond to COVID-19 tors flocking to the province, Ex Nihilo Vineyards in Lake Country, BC would typically start hosting outdoor concerts for its guests to enjoy along with great food, a great view and of course great wine. But after having to close its doors to the public for the foreseeable future, the winery had to come up with a new plan to continue connecting with their customers. On April 25th Ex Nihilo Vineyards hosted a virtual concert with Andrew Allen, local artist and one of the regular musicians in their annual outdoor concert series lineup.

demic. It could have signalled the end. Many could have given up. But in the true spirit of BC winemaking, resilience and heart won out, and the great pivot began.

I

t was completely unexpected. As the BC wine industry prepared for another successful BC summer - bringing warmer temperatures, experience seekers and wine enthusiasts alike - the unimaginable happened. BC wineries were forced to close their restaurants and tasting rooms in an attempt to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pan-

Wineries across the province were quick to respond to the new reality by taking to social media, online delivery and curbside pickup to keep their brands strong and ensure wine lovers across the country could still enjoy BC wine at home. The tasting rooms may have been closed, but it didn’t stop wineries from finding new and innovative ways to reach wine lovers across the country.

“We had to react very quickly and continue to connect with our customers,” said Jeff

With warmer temperatures and the usual flood of visi-

Harder, Proprietor and Managing Director of Ex Nihilo Vineyards. “We have a loyal following, and we wanted to still be able to keep in touch with them, give something back and say we know you’re at home, we wanted to reach out and say we’re still here.” Due to the intimate nature of the in-person, live shows, only 100 tickets are typically sold. But in the new reality, fans from across the country could tune in, enjoy the wine, listen to Andrew Allen perform and also have the option to stay after the show for a special zoom call with Andrew to ask questions and get up close and personal. “Seventy people joined us on

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the Zoom call following the concert with people from Saskatchewan, Ontario and even Nova Scotia. It allowed the customer to talk to the artist directly and provided the opportunity to ask me about the wine and the vineyard,” said Harder. The overall virtual concert saw 1100 people tune in, with many purchasing specially curated wine packages in advance of the show to pair with the songs. With tasting rooms closed across the province, many wineries switched to virtual tastings to help promote their wines and entertain customers who were staying safe and staying home. In the Similkameen Valley, Clos du Soleil winemaker Michael Clark hosted a virtual tasting with Il Caminetto, Whistler Wine Director and acclaimed Canadian sommeli-

er, Leagh Barkley to taste and discuss four of Clos Du Soleil's top-selling wines and discuss wine in general. Collaborating with local sommeliers provided an educational aspect to the virtual tastings while also offering an opportunity to collaborate with industry partners.

aging Partner, Winemaker and Viticulturalist, Severine Pinte hosted regular wine tastings and winemaking educational videos on social media starting March 20, only two days after their tasting room closed. “We were planning to open our tasting room on March 15, so we felt the need to connect with our customers and give them a similar experience as they would have in the tasting room; to give them a little bit of us while they were stuck at home,” said Pinte.

“To me, the important thing about all of this is how we’re all part of the same family in a sense,” says Clark. “To be successful as a winery we need to be there to fulfill the needs of our customers of course, but also retailers, restaurants and hotels that sell our wine - especially during a crisis – but all the time. We need to help each other to be successful in what we’re doing. A key component of these virtual tastings with sommeliers is to collaborate with other members of the broader industry.”

Being able to stay connected with their customers, and continue delivering a similar experience to what they would expect from an in-person visit, was the main goal of the virtual tastings with the bonus of promoting and selling the wine.

In Oliver, Le Vieux Pin’s Man-

“There has been a lot of good

feedback from people saying they’ve learned a lot, and we’ve had much higher online sales than previous years,” said Pinte. “I think we’d continue virtual tastings in the future, particularly the educational part of it. Not everyone is coming to the vineyard, so I think it’s a good way to keep in touch even if it is via social media. It keeps us connected even if it’s not in person.” While many BC wineries took new approaches to events and tastings, others also chose innovative ways to give back to their communities. In Langley, Backyard Vineyards produced and donated 2000 bottles of hand sanitizer for the Fraser Valley Health region. "We've seen such strong local support for our business we thought this would be a unique way to donate right back to our community,” says

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Colin Campbell, General Manager of Backyard Vineyards. The hand sanitizer was donated to Fraser Valley Health Region hospitals, Royal Columbian and Langley Memorial, as well as to the Langley Doctor’s Association and other General Practitioners in the area. “All of the hand sanitizer was 100% donated. We saw a need, and this is something tangible to support frontline workers in the Fraser Valley and residents of our community,” said Campbell. In the Cowichan Valley, Blue Grouse Estate Winery on Vancouver Island helped feed children in their community through donations from online wine sales. Through April, in honour of BC Wine Month, the winery committed to donating $1 for every bottle sold to Nourish Cowichan Society, a charitable organization helping feed families in need, which was matched by another dollar from the Brunner family, owners of the winery. Thanks to the support of wine lovers across the country and restaurant and retail partners, the winery was able to sell 4,000 bottles by April 30, making a total $8,000 donation to the charity. The Brunner Family decided to round the amount up to $10,000, reaching the original goal set by the winery team. The money contributed by Blue Grouse Estate Winery will provide 2,500 meals to families in need. "We found in our research that the Cowichan Valley has the highest rate of child poverty on Vancouver Island (30 per cent) and the second-largest in BC. We really wanted to focus locally and give back to help make a difference where

we live,” said Blue Grouse general manager Jenny Garlini. After speaking with the head chef at Nourish Cowichan Society, Garlini says the organization increased their capacity from 200 to 400 kids fed a week and with the donation, they will be able to continue helping children and their families through the end of June. Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna also donated $1 per bottle in honour of BC Wine Month, raising $7,380 for Food Banks Canada. With more than 350 wineries in British Columbia, these examples only scratch the surface of the incredible ways the BC wine industry pivoted during an uncertain time to ensure BC wine stayed top of mind while giving back to the community in a time of need. The sheer grit, heart and tenacity of the BC wine industry has never been more apparent than now. Despite an incredibly scary time, the industry as a whole stepped up in a big way to change course and continue providing wine lovers with incredible BC wine. To help connect wine lovers with BC wineries and experiences, the BC Wine Institute launched the new Wines of BC Explorer app. The app allows wine lovers to input their wine preferences to create a personalized experience for exploring BC wine country, even from a distance. It also provides an easy channel for wine lovers to purchase their favourite BC wines, providing a streamlined way to discover what they love in BC wine country. ■ To continue supporting local and #DiscoverWhatYouLove, visit WineBC.com.

Innovation 2020 33


 CANADIAN WINEMAKERS SERIES | JUSTIN HALL

Nk'Mip Cellars Winemaker Justin Hall Justin Hall is a proud member of the Osoyoos Indian Band and a winemaker at Nk’mip Winery, where he has worked with head winemaker Randy Picton since 2003. We spoke to Justin about how his persistence and determination allowed him to get ahead in the world of wine.

There were a lot of the other students who had already graduated from college or university but they hadn’t done any actual winemaking, and they would ask me thousands of questions, and in return, I would ask them, like, how do I reference a quote? And that worked out pretty good for all of us.

How did you get started in the wine industry? When I was 22 years old I was going to school for auto mechanics and I worked at the golf course for a summer job, but it was only part time. So, in 2003 I went to our chief (Chief Clarence Louie of the Okanagan Indian Band) and I said, I have a son to support, do you know what else is out there for work? And he said, yep, how about the new winery down the road? We just started up Nk’mip Cellars not long ago and they’ve got positions, so why not try there? I phoned down there and the boss said, no, we’re fine right now, but keep calling back if you want, keep in touch. So I did. I went through October, November, January, February … it was about four months of calling once a week, once every two weeks, and just keeping in touch … and he finally said, yeah, come on down. Where did you go to school or apprentice. I signed up for Okanagan College when I started at Nk’mip, but they said you can’t start right now, it’s halfway through the term. But I said, I don’t want to start in September, I need to start right now, and that’s what I ended up doing. I jumped in mid34 Innovation 2020

Have you worked in other countries?

Nk'Mip Cellars Winemaker Justin Hall

way, and it was very hard, but I rode the rollercoaster and I got it done. Years later I also went to Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand. I took the post-graduate diploma, where they take 10 months of the hardest programs and they just jam pack it on you, throw you into the 200 and 300 level programs and say, get it done. That was really cool; probably one of the best experiences of my life was going into university and learning the book side of things. I guess I already had a lot of experience in the wine industry (so) it wasn’t as hard at that point, but writing an essay was extremely hard! I can talk about sparkling wine all day long, but put an essay in front of me, that’s a different matter. Most of the students taking the wine course already had science degrees, biology degrees, they’d already done their three-four year program. So here’s me coming in, barely through high school, and 10 years later, saying, what do I do?

Back in ’06, before I went to school, our winemaker approached me again, and asked me if I was interested in working abroad, and of course I said yes! I ended up working at Goundry in Western Australia for three months, and learned how to make wine in a hotter area of the world, and also a very large facility. It gives you a little perspective how small BC is but also how special it is. There are wineries out there that produce the equivalent of all of BC’s annual production in 12 days, and that’s not even the biggest wineries. Most people who work in the wineries or the wine shops in BC are from the area. There are 370’ish wineries that are mostly the mom and pop size of business, so you know they are pouring their heart and soul into every bottle, because it’s literally their name on the bottle. What is your favourite varietal to work with? It’s a very hard question but I would probably say Syrah. I think BC makes exceptional Syrah. We’re not quite in the California range of jamminess, or Australia, but also not as lean and acidic as the Syrah

from the Rhone (Valley). We have a little more body and sweetness to the wines because we are from the Okanagan. I think it’s gorgeous. If you’re talking a variety to work with the vineyard guys would probably laugh at me, because it’s unruly. It likes to grow like a maniac and it’s often big clusters and it can be temperamental with ripening, but I’m still going to stick with Syrah, for its peppery nature and it’s complexity. What is the best thing about your job? Every vintage is different and working with different varietals or different blocks. They’re like children. They each have their own temperament. They each have something you’re trying to coax out of them or suppress. Actual winemaking is about coaxing out the best of each grape … and then of course, the wine tasting is always nice too! Is there a particular wine or vintage you have made you are most proud of? I think the wines I’m most proud of are the ones that came in with issues, so maybe there was a little bit of botrytis out in the vineyard, or it wasn’t the greatest vintage. To make those wines, you really have to be a winemaker now. Having trust in a winery is like a friendship. If I keep giving you a good product, you’re going to trust me and you’ll keep coming back. So, I guess the wines I’m most proud of, in a way, were the ones that were the most difficult to make. ■


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Profile for Orchard & Vine Magazine

Orchard & Vine Innovation 2020  

Inside this issue we feature new Innovative products, ideas and methods. Our writer Tom Walker talked to Karnail Singh Sidhu of Kalala Viney...

Orchard & Vine Innovation 2020  

Inside this issue we feature new Innovative products, ideas and methods. Our writer Tom Walker talked to Karnail Singh Sidhu of Kalala Viney...

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