Orchard & Vine Summer 2023

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Perennial Crop Renewal Program Drones Surveying the Valley Wine Clubs Boutique Winery vinAmité Summer 2023 $6.95 Display Until July.15, 2023 Publication Mail Agreement No. 40838008 www.orchardandvine.net

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Rainbow over the vines at the boutique winery,





6 Summer 2023
38 20
Cover Photo by Anna Av | Dreamstime.com. We always wanted to have a dog on the cover, so here for your viewing pleasure is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever walking in an orchard. vinAmité
Events Calendar 11 News & Events
New Perennial Crop Renewal Program Announced
Drones Give Growers a Tactical Advantage
Wine Clubs
A Kitchen Connection – Family and friends are at the core of boutique winery, vinAmité
Katrina D’Costa, winemaker at Haywire Winery.
View – Lisa Olson 10
Seeds of Growth
Glen Lucas
– Valerie Maida
– Kelly Josephson
Mix – Leeann Froese
38 Canadian Winemaker Series: Katrina D’Costa, Winemaker, Haywire Winery
39 Photo credit: Lionel Trudel Photo credit: vinAmité Photo credit: Government of BC
Honourable Pam Alexis seen here with Mylon Fensek of Backyard Vineyards, announced the creation of the Perennial Crop Renewal Program.


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Time for Summer

Summer is almost here. What are your plans this season? After hibernating over the winter, the sun is out, business is getting busier and your visiting guests are arriving.

So many fun things happen for visitors in the summer with outdoor concerts, more wine tours arriving, working at the farmers markets greeting your guests at your farm, market, restaurant or winery.

Have you ever joined a wine club? There are lots of advantages of joining a wine club, especially if you don’t have the time to visit your local winery. Inside this issue we bring you a few different wine club options depending on what you’re looking for.

I hope your pruning worked out this year? It’s been a tough winter on some vineyard areas and it must be difficult trying to figure out what pruning method to use. I hope the system you decided to use works out for you and you didn’t lose too much of your crop. And speaking of tough winters, the cold snap in December last year caps off a recent series of difficult years for growers in BC. We’re happy to see the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food stepping in with a new replanting program, which will now include funds for wine grapes and hazelnuts.

We’re sure growers will make the most of this opportunity, and we will once more see the bountiful harvests we have come to expect!

Have you considered using drones as part of your operation?

The data they can gather are proving useful to help uncover plant stress, track frost, air movement and water flow, or helping to

find blueberry scorch. Check out the article inside this edition to read about their uses in blueberry fields.

Farming is busy at this time of the year, so I hope you have some time carved out in your hectic life to have fun too, whether you take a few quiet breaks, go camping, fishing, attend festivals or concerts or take a beach day every now and then to let the dog cool off.

Wishing you a great growing season and some free time for fun.

Enjoy the magazine!

Vol. 64, No 3 Summer 2023

Established in 1959

Publisher Lisa Olson

Editor Gary Symons

Graphic Design Stephanie Symons


Leeann Froese, Kelly Josephson, Glen Lucas, Valerie Maida, Ronda Payne, Gary Symons



Orchard & Vine Magazine Ltd.

Mailing Address

22-2475 Dobbin Road Suite #578 West Kelowna, BC

V4T 2E9


Phone: 778-754-7078

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.

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8 Summer 2023
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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Agricultural Land Reserve

It’s a happy birthday for the ALR in BC, which reached its 50th anniversary on April 18 this year.

The Agricultural Land Reserve was created by the NDP government of Dave Barrett in 1973 in response to the ongoing loss of critical farmland.

At the time, BC was losing an average of 15,000 acres of farmland annually, or 15 times the size of Stanley Park.

While the program has at times been controversial, in general it has received broad support from the public and successive governments.

“Fifty years ago, British Columbians had the vision to protect our province’s food security by establishing the Agricultural Land Reserve and it has never been more important than it is today,” said BC Minister of Agriculture and Food Pam Alexis. “We depend on the ALR for the food on our tables and we depend on it to support farming families and businesses in communities all over our province.”

The ALR protects only about five per cent of the land in BC, but in a province dominated by mountains, that five per cent is critical to food security and the provincial economy, Alexis notes.

“The ALR was formed in 1973 by people who saw the need and the value of preserving farmland for food production,” Alexis says. “That need hasn’t changed. The importance of preserving farmland so fu-

ture generations can enjoy fresh and local ingredients remains as true today as it was 50 years ago.

“That’s why our government will continue to work with farmers to support food production and protect the valuable agricultural land in the ALR,” she adds. “The fact is if you’ve enjoyed B.C. fruits and vegetables, meat or dairy this year, chances are high it was produced in the ALR.”

The BC Agricultural Council says BC farmers generate around $4 billion in direct sales, creating more than 35,000 jobs.

11 Summer 2023  SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS

BCFGA Optimistic For Better Harvest After Series of Difficult Years

The 2023 growing season in the BC Southern Interior region is off to a delayed start, with blossom and harvest times running about two weeks behind schedule.

While apple and cherry trees make up the majority of the region’s tree fruit acreage, the BC Fruit Growers’ Association says this season’s expectations are mixed for different crops.

Apples and pears appear to have suffered minimal damage, and growers are optimistic about a normal harvest for these hardier tree fruits.

On the other hand, apricots and peaches have been affected more severely due to bud damage from last winter’s extreme cold.

Apricot growers expect a very light crop this year, while the extent of damage to peach orchards ranges widely from orchard to orchard.

Despite these challenges, cherry growers are hopeful for a promising season, the BCFGA says.

Although bud damage is predicted to have impacted 10-20% of the cherry crop, the remaining cherries are expected to be larger in size, resulting in an overall tonnage that is not significantly impacted.

Over the past two years, tree fruit growers in BC have faced challenging weather conditions, including the Heat Dome in 2021

and the extremely cold 2022 winter. Despite this, the prediction of an almost-normal growing season in 2023 is a much-needed ray of hope for growers.

BCFGA President Peter Simonsen says growers are also more confident of a generally good year due to the strong affiliation BC consumers have for buying local produce,

which as helped growers literally weather the storms of the past few years.

“We thank consumers for shopping BC-local,” Simonen said. “The last few years have been tough, but we are committed to producing fruit of the highest quality for your tables.”

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Federal Gov’t Drops Excise Tax Hike From 6.3% to 2% to Help Producers

Wine, beer and spirits producers posted a major political win, as the federal government agreed to cap an increase to the excise tax to just two per cent.

While no one likes any tax increases, this was seen as a victory for the industry, because the federal excise formula would normally have seen the tax increase by 6.3 per cent this year.

The issue is that the excise tax is based on inflation, so if prices rise generally, so does the tax rate.

But wineries, distillers and microbreweries protested that the increase, combined with rising costs, would have a huge and negative impact on their bottom lines.

“This proposal temporarily caps the inflation adjustment for excise duties on all alcoholic products at 2 per cent for one year only as of April 1, 2023,” reads the budget.

Beer Canada president CJ Hêlie said he was grateful for the government’s help in reducing the excise tax increase.

“Faced with already very high tax rates, increased operating costs and depressed beer sales volumes, a 6.3% federal beer tax increase this year would have been devastating to brewers, brewery workers, the hospitality and tourism sector and hard-working Canadian consumers.” CJ Hélie said in a statement.

“We are appreciative that Minister Freeland’s took action to provide the sector some breathing room to recover.”

13 Summer 2023
| NEWS &

Clos de Soleil La Côte Vineyard Now Officially Certified 100% Organic!

Clos du Soleil, the British Columbia-based winery, has proudly announced their La Côte vineyard has received organic certification.

With this announcement, all four vineyards owned by Clos du Soleil, which span 30 acres of vines, are now certified organic, farmed biodynamically, and ‘Biosphere Committed’.

The winery’s managing director, Michael Clark, says the organic certification is central to their approach to winemaking, as it allows them to produce wines that speak strongly of terroir and place, as well as showcase their commitment to sustainable farming practices.

“Organic certification is really central to our whole approach at Clos du Soleil,” explains Clark. “We put a great deal of effort into producing wines of place, wines that speak of

the land on which they were grown.

“Organic practices are a crucial part of that process by encouraging healthy soils, and healthy vines, which make for more expressive wines.”

La Côte vineyard was purchased by Clos du Soleil in 2018, and the team began converting it to organic and biodynamic practices immediately. Vineyard and Operations Manager Steve Roche explained that organic farming practices help keep soils alive and healthy, which is crucial for maintaining vine health and for producing grapes that represent their place.

La Côte is also ideally located for grape growing, with well-draining stony soils and a southward-facing aspect that gives the entire plot the perfect conditions for growing high-quality fruit. Today, La Côte is home to Malbec, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet


Franc, with the Malbec being used to make Clos du Soleil’s annual sell-out Malbec Rosé. Clark believes every bottle of Clos du Soleil wine should reflect its place of origin, which is why the winery places a strong emphasis on organic farming. By doing so, Clark says they can sustainably produce elegant, age-worthy wines that taste unmistakeably of the Similkameen.

Having all its vineyards certified for organic farming is a significant accomplishment, and the certification of La Côte vineyard highlights the company’s commitment to the environment and the production of high-quality wines.

As consumers continue to prioritize sustainability in their purchasing decisions, Clos du Soleil’s organic certification could help the winery attract more environmentally conscious customers.

14 Summer 2023  SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
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50th Anniversary BBQ at Terralink

The agricultural inputs company TerraLink Horticulture is celebrating a half-century in business this year.

The Abbotsford, BC-based business first took root as a supplier of fertilizer to dairy, vegetable and berry farms under the name Coast Agri Crop Supplies. It was established as part of an expansion of the Chilliwack company Agri Pacific, but in 2000 it embarked on its own path under the TerraLink banner.

“From our humble beginnings in 1973 to one of the leading crop input providers in Western Canada, TerraLink has been serving growers and producers for half a century,” the company said. “That’s quite a long time for a business. This milestone is something to be proud of, and it calls for some major celebration!”

That celebration happens on June 27, as TerraLink will be hosting a customer appreciation BBQ party, providing a hearty lunch at its headquarters at 464 Riverside Road in Abbotsford.

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The Results Are In For 2023 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards

The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards competition recently concluded, bringing together fifteen professional wine judges from Western Canada for three intense days of blind tastings.

Over five hundred wines from more than one hundred BC wine producers were judged, with each wine meticulously tasted and scored according to a set criterion. The top-rated wines were classified into Silver, Gold and Platinum categories.

The prestigious Platinum category is the highest accolade a wine can achieve and the best among them is crowned the Wine of the Year. The rigorous judging process ensures that only the best of the best wines receive recognition.

Master of Wine and 2023 BCLGWA Judge, Barbara Philip, shared her enthusiasm for the competition, saying, “Judging at the BCLGWA is a special opportunity because it gives us a snapshot of the industry. What are the unexpected varieties and styles of wine that are emerging as high-quality examples? What are the new trends for our established varieties and styles? And the standard of quality keeps going up and up!”

Out of the five hundred wines submitted, a total of 185 wines medaled in the prescribed categories, showcasing the stringent selection process.

On June 9, 2023, the platinum winners will be feted at the awards reception as anticipation builds for the announcement of the Wine of the Year, which is chosen from the list of Platinum Award winners as the best of the best.

Platinum Award Recipients

• Quails’ Gate 2020 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay

• Inniskillin Okanagan Winery 2018 Estate Riesling Icewine

• Township 7 Vineyards & Winery 2015 seven stars Sirius

• Township 7 Vineyards & Winery 2019 Reserve 7

• Moraine Estate Winery 2021 Malbec

• O’Rourke Family Estate 2020 Clone 943 Pinot Noir

• Hillside Winery & Bistro 2021 Viognier

The BC Fruit Growers’ Association

Supports research projects for the tree fruit sector:

❶ Introducing our new Horticulture and Research Project Manager, Gail Nelson.

❷ Research funding:

• Effect of water stress on Ambrosia fruit.

• Cover crops for drive alleys.

• Hot water fumigation of fruit trees.

• Molecular markers in cherries.

• Detection of Little Cherry Disease.

• Cherry fruitlet nutrent analysis.

• Van Westen Vineyards 2021 Viscous

• Lake Breeze Vineyards 2020 Syrah

• Fort Berens Estate Winery 2020 Cabernet Franc Reserve

• Fox & Archer Wines 2020 Malbec

• Kismet Estate Winery 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

• Stag’s Hollow Winery 2020

• Renaissance Pinot Noir

• Backyard Vineyards 2020 Syrah Reserve The complete list of winners is at https://www.thewinefestivals.com/awards/ results/9/1/


BCFGA funds research projects:

➔ Apple Pests and Alternative Control Strategies

➔ Apple Crop Load Management: Enhancing Thinning Predictability and Tree Response

➔ Extending Storage Life and Maximizing Quality to Reduce Postharvest Apple Loss

16 Summer 2023  SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
New Naramata boutique winery Fox & Archer was among this years Platinum Awards recipients. Photo credit: Fox & Archer
1-800-619-9022 info@bcfga.com www.bcfga.com

O’Rourke Family Estate Ranks Top 10 at Chardonnay du Monde

O’Rourke Family Estate, a relative newcomer to the Canadian wine scene located in Lake Country, has received international recognition for its 2020 Chardonnay.

The wine was awarded top honours at the Chardonnay du Monde wine competition, which took place in Burgundy, France. O’Rourke Family Estate was the only Canadian winery to be recognized in the top 10, out of a field of 530 entries from 32 countries.

Proprietor Dennis O’Rourke’s vision for the winery was to be in a class of its own, and it seems that winemaker Nikki Callaway is leading them in that direction. With 110 acres under vine on over 300 acres of land, O’Rourke Family Estate is home to world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Callaway has received recognition for her winemaking skills in the past, but the winery’s inaugural vintage has now put them on the world map.

“I could not be more excited for our entire team to have received such an esteemed award so early in our journey,” said Callaway.

She attributed the win to the exceptional fruit grown in the Lake Country sub-GI and the team’s approach of letting nature lead the way to showcase the elegant characteristics of Chardonnay.

The recognition received by O’Rourke Family Estate at the Chardonnay du Monde competition reinforces the winery’s commitment to producing high-quality wines and positions them as one of the world’s top Chardonnay producers.

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Nikki Callaway, winemaker at O’Rourke Family Estate. Photo credit: O’Rourke Family Estate

Quail’s Gate Winery Receives Sustainable Winegrowing Certification

Quails’ Gate Winery Estate in Okanagan Valley, B.C., has achieved certification from Sustainable Winegrowing B.C. (SWBC) in recognition of the estate’s sustainable practices.

The certification complements Quails’ Gate’s 2022 vineyard certification, and makes it the sixth winery in British Columbia to receive full certification.

The winery uses low-impact practices and a holistic ecosystem management approach to grape growing, focusing on efficiency and waste reduction in winemaking and sourcing farm-to-table ingredients.

“Environmental stewardship has always been one of the foundational pillars at Quails’ Gate,” said CEO Tony Stewart. “We feel a personal responsibility to protect this land for future generations to enjoy.”

Senior Winemaker Jeff Del Nin added that the winery’s commitment to sustainability “is not just a philosophy, it’s a way of life.”

Arrowleaf Celebrates 20 Years Since Wineshop Opened

The Arrowleaf Cellars in Lake Country is marking 20 years in the wine industry this year.

Arrowleaf is a family-owned business that was founded in 2001 by the Zuppiger family.

Arrowleaf was born from the family’s passion for organic farming. Joe and Margrit Zuppiger moved to Canada from Switzerland in 1986 and established an organic orchard and dairy farm.

After ten years in the dairy business, they moved to the Okanagan and purchased Suncrest Vineyard and the Carter Farm. The family grew grapes for Gray Monk Winery for five years before establishing Arrowleaf Cellars.

The family sent their eldest son, Manuel, to Switzerland to complete a three-year apprenticeship program in wine making. Manuel gained industry experience by working as a cellar hand for three seasons in Australia and the Okanagan.

18 Summer 2023  SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
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Historic Investment in Food Security Supports British

British Columbia’s government is investing over $200 million in food security to ensure the people of the province have better access to an increased supply of affordable, local food.

The funds will be invested in new and enhanced programs to strengthen British Columbia’s food supply chain, expand local food production from producers to processors and packers to retailers, and help agricultural producers and food processors grow their businesses and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.

“Food security in British Columbia requires an available, affordable, and uninterrupted supply of nutritious food,” said Premier David Eby. “At the same time, we need targeted, effective programs that support the people and communities most impacted by rising inflation, climate events, and supply-chain shocks.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will also be investing in Indigenous communities to help with the availability and cost of food and to improve local food security, particularly in remote and rural communities.

The investment aims to give British Columbians access to more nutritious, local, and affordable food while maintaining agriculture as a key economic driver in the province.

Furthermore, grants from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction are intended to strengthen food banks, food distribution, and food access.

This includes providing food to underserved communities through trusted partners, such as FoodBanks BC and the United Way, as well as increasing the availability of fresh food in rural, Northern, and Indigenous communities.

Food insecurity has increased due to COVID-19, inflation, supply-chain issues, and climate emergencies that interrupt food supply and production. This unprecedented investment recognizes the diverse challenges of food producers, processors, suppliers, retailers, and consumers, strengthening food security for everyone.

James Donaldson, CEO of BC Food and Beverage, said, “As we feel the continued strains

of inflation and supply-chain interruptions with our food system, there is no greater time to invest in our food system in British Columbia.

“It is imperative that we continue to ensure all British Columbians are nourished, and our food system thrives,” Donaldson added. Michael McKnight, CEO of United Way BC,

emphasized that “No one should have to go to bed worrying about how they will get their next meal or feed their families.”

He praised the funding, which will support the expansion of United Way BC’s 20 regional community food hubs, strengthen service delivery, and work closely with other social service agencies to help those in need.

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The BC government will provide up to $15 million for a new program to help farmers adapt to climate change and extreme weather events.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food announced on Sunday, May 30, the creation of the Perennial Crop Renewal Program. Much of the funding will be directed to help farmers with a replanting program, replacing current vines and fruit trees with varietals that can better withstand extreme heat or cold.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Pam Alexis says the PCRP is designed to revitalize the hazelnut, grape, berry, and tree-fruit industries, all of which have suffered through climate-caused disasters such as flooding, heat waves, extreme cold events and wildfires.

“The Perennial Crop Renewal Program is about renewal and ensuring our farmers are profitable and have sustainable production in the long run,” Alexis said. “Our producers have faced recent challenges, such as ex-

treme weather and disease, and by supporting them so they can plant more resilient, climate-friendly crops, we will improve their bottom line and strengthen both the food economy and food security in BC”

Also, for the first time, the provincial replanting programs will cover the wine grape sector in BC, which has seen its annual yields dropping for 10 straight years due to events like the 2022 cold snap, or the 2021 heat dome.

As Orchard and Vine first reported on March 22, a study by the Summerland Research and Development Centre found widespread crop damage from a December 2022 cold snap, which could result in up to a 50% decline in the grape yield for 2023.

As a result, the Winegrowers of BC asked to be included in the replant program, with CEO Miles Prodan saying the local industry will have to begin a wholesale replant from traditional European vinifera grapes, to hardier grapes that can withstand extremes of heat and cold.

Even before the most recent crisis, caused

by the December cold snap, the wine sector was seeing steadily declining crop yields. According to the BC Vineyard Resiliency Report issued in July 2022, crop yields have declined in BC by roughly 33 per cent between 2018 and 2022, with the tonnage decreasing from 30,000 tons to 20,000 tons over that period.

Most winemakers and viticulturists said that decline is due to a combination of climate change in general causing extreme weather events, and also the ‘knock-on effects’ of damage from recent weather anomalies like the heat dome, the flooding in 2021, and a damaging cold snap in the Thompson-Okanagan.

“Generally, we’re seeing some of the worst crops over a nine-year period,” said Prodan. “We’re very concerned about how climate change is affecting our grapes.”

Ross Wise, chair of the BC Wine Grape Council, says the Perennial Crop Renewal Program is a good first step in helping fruit growers become more resilient to the onslaught of global warming.

20 Summer 2023


“The Perennial Crop Renewal Program will help to ensure that growers are implementing best practices for sustainable winegrape production and regenerative agriculture, proven innovations and technologies, and planting clean, virus-free material,” Wise said. “We are pleased that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is supporting us with a program that will strengthen our industry for years to come.”

Of course, it’s not just the grape growers and winemakers who have been adversely impacted by global warming. BC’s booming cherry industry has also been hampered in recent years by adverse weather events, and the berry growers in the Fraser Valley suffered greatly from increased numbers of pests in their fields, and by the devastating floods in 2021.

“The announcement of the Perennial Crop Renewal Program is wonderful news for BC’s berry sector,” said David Mutz, a berry farmer and director on the BC Agriculture Council. “It will see the continuation of raspberry replant, which has successfully been

helping re-invigorate the BC raspberry industry.

The new crop removal stream will also be very important to maintaining the success of the BC blueberry industry, which is currently facing heavy virus and disease pressure in some fields, which put newer and uninfected fields at risk.”

Sukhpaul Bal, president of the BC Cherry Association, says his members are relieved to see help on the way to deal with the challenges brought by climate change.

“Our growers are adapting to the ever-changing climate, and this investment will give our members the confidence to make the necessary changes on-farm to remain competitive in local and global markets,” Bal said. “Having the renewal program open to various crops throughout B.C. is vital, as it encourages crop diversity, which will make B.C.’s food security more resilient in the future.”

In the case of cherries, the issue is all the more vital as the fruit is facing high and

rapidly growing demand in foreign markets, such as China and most recently South Korea. Those markets are taking all the BC cherries they can get, at attractive prices, but losses due to weather events is eating into the farmers’ bottom line.

Another sector that will see new funding is BC hazelnut growers, who typically have not enjoyed a great deal of replant support in the past. This time out the hazelnut growers are specifically included in the Perennial Crop Renewal Program.

“B.C.’s hazelnut sector is being revitalized, thanks to programs like this, which support our growers with planting disease-resistant trees and help the industry become more sustainable and resilient,” said Zachary Fleming, the president of the BC Hazelnut Growers Association. “Through the Perennial Crop Renewal Program, we look forward to seeing greater production and more market opportunities for the sector, which will ensure a bright future for B.C. hazelnuts.”

However, while those working in the agriculture sector universally agreed on the

21 Summer 2023

need for the program, some believe the funding amount is not sufficient for the scale of the challenge.

Al Hudec, a lawyer who specializes in advising wineries, and splits his time between Vancouver and the Okanagan Valley, said he is “underwhelmed” by the funding announcement.

“The funding is extremely limited relative to the need,” Hudec said in an open letter to the Kelowna news outlet Castanet. “The program provides for only $15 million to be shared by raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, hazelnut, and tree fruit growers. Nova Scotia recently announced a similar program with $15 million dedicated to grape growers only, in a province that has less than onetenth the vineyard acreage.”

Hudec also notes that applications from grape growers will be deferred for a year, with priority given to raspberry and hazelnut farmers. Grape growers will be able to begin applying in April, 2024, with coverage provided for 75% of nursery plant costs and new trellising, to a maximum of $300,000 per farm.

“Relative to the challenges faced by the B.C. wine industry due to climate change and shifting consumer preferences, the province’s response is totally inadequate,” Hudec argues. “It fails to recognize the fundamental importance of the wine industry as a driver of rural prosperity, economic activity and agri-tourism.”

That said, most agricultural organizations were quick to applaud the government’s new direction. Glen Lucas, the general manager of the BC Fruit Growers Association, says the program looks very encouraging thus far, although he notes not all the details are finalized just yet.

“Funding and timelines are very encouraging for growers that can take advantage of the Perennial Crop Renewal Program over the next two to three years, until the funding is fully allocated,” Lucas said. “It is expected the criteria in the Planting stream will be more extensive, and that the level of grants will be higher than previous programs.”

While the details of the program are being finalized, there is a great deal of information for growers to learn about in the coming month. The Investment Agriculture Founda-

tion has helpfully created a detailed outline of the program, the eligibility requirements, a description of the various funding opportunities or ‘streams’, and a timeline for the various application deadlines.

You can find that information at this link: https://iafbc.ca/pcrp/

22 Summer 2023
Agriculture and Food Minister Pam Alexis checks out the status of cold ravaged vines with Mylon Fenske of Backyard Vineyards. Photo credit: Government of BC


Having a bird’s eye view of farm, orchard or field has always been of value to farmers and when drones came on the scene, the novelty of using them to provide helpful photos led to many landholders having pictures of their property from the sky.

Recently, however, the concept of flying drones over farmland became more tactical.


Identifying tree lines, water courses and other factors from airplanes was possible but expensive and somewhat limited in the information that could be obtained. As technology has advanced, using drones became affordable and easy and multiple tools can work in tandem with them to deliver greater information, but how can this new opportunity better support agriculture?

Todd Letourneau, owner of Geosurv Solutions in Salmon Arm, had the same question. With more than 20 years in the field of surveying and mapping, he knew drones could make a positive impact on the work he does; as well as to the results for those in agriculture.

“We’re just moving into the drone space,” he says of his business. “It can take a little while for people to appreciate what this can do for them.”

He has helped landowners find ideal placement for various crops, tracked frost and air movement and determined flow of water, but it was all done by foot, on the land. Now, looking to mesh that expertise with his skills around sky-based tech, he’s doing more for Thompson-Okanagan region growers. It began with his relationships through BCIT and the programs that have helped him advance his skills.

Together with Eric Saczuk, head of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) operations with BCIT, Letourneau has worked on an agricultural project that made use of thermal data to assess the impacts of soil movement. He plans to advance into providing help like

this after he garners more experience using drones with his existing surveying and mapping expertise on agricultural sites.

Saczuk says drones are a relatively safe way to collect data, especially in areas where walking the ground would be difficult or impractical.

“The ability to get a very detailed snapshot of crop or orchard health as often as you need,” is a major benefit, he says. “It can also help identify and prevent the outbreak of pest infestation or a particular crop disease before it spreads and damages the whole crop.”

The use of drones in blueberry fields is showing potential in helping control blueberry scorch disease as well, and significant analysis and mapping projects are underway to create databases of scanned regions. In grapes, as in blueberries, the hope is to save growers time and money; not to mention a significant amount of frustration.

Surveying and mapping is step one for drones with Letourneau and for growers.

“What I had to do was physically walk the site and shoot it point by point,” he explains. “But with a drone, in half an hour, you can get so much data with respect to topography. It’s phenomenal really.”

While many individuals fly drones, without

Letourneau’s expertise, the interpretation of that topography and the nuances of the images may be lost.

“That’s where my strength is,” he says of his surveying and mapping knowledge. “It’s bringing that data down to the land and making it clear.”

Of course, the sky is the limit to what drones can do and what they will be able to deliver to growers and farmers going forward. In some work he referenced, drones are being used to assess grape volume by colour and shape. There is the ability to analyze woody growth at the end of a season and so much more.

“Drones are already changing the business of agriculture,” says Saczuk. “It mainly boils down to understanding how data gathered by these tools can help you run your operation more safely and efficiently.”

Drones can apply chemicals and amendments day or night with GPS precision. Questions about plant health can be answered as well as those about pests.

Those looking to harness the power of drones can reach out to an up-and-coming operator like Letourneau or look into webinars and presentations being offered across North America through virtual learning. Having accurate data on hand makes a world of difference to growing success.

24 Summer 2023
Surveying to determine future planting arrangements can be enhanced with the use of drones . (above) Letourneau brings his substantial experience in mapping and surveying to Thompson Okanagan growers page 23.
Photos contributed
Bo helps out on the ground level during a site survey.

If the club fits

Wine clubs are about more than wine. Winery-based or general, there are no wrong answers.

What is a wine club, if not a collection of people who love a certain winery’s product? Sometimes a wine club is about people who love wine, but want to try new things. Or, it may be that it’s about experiences that are paired with wine.

Or perhaps all of the above are true.

It may seem to some that a wine club is a way to “lock in” business, but in reality, immediate sales are far from the most important aspect. A wine club creates fans. Raving, crazy, rabid fans.

These are the people every winery (or wine club) wants, because they tell others about the things they love and they do so with such exuberance, people can’t help but join them on the bandwagon.

This has definitely been part of the success of Carl’s Wine Club.

The Generalist

Carl Boucher, the Chief Wine Officer with Carl’s Wine Club, was a wine consultant for international wines for more than two decades. Canadian wines hadn’t really been on his horizon until he took a contract with WestJet and the caveat was, he had to include Canadian wines.

“I absolutely fell in love with what we do in our own backyard,” he says. Now, he’s converting others. “We want to keep Canadians connected to their favourite brands. We feature exclusively Canadian wine, 100 per cent.”

The club was born three years ago on Canada Day, as the pandemic had taken hold. Carl’s wife, Mira, brought the idea up earlier, but he shut her down the first few times. Fortunately, wives are persistent and he eventually listened and saw the benefit of focusing on Canadian wines, creating virtual tastings and giving wine-lovers choice.

“We have built our 10,000 members almost one-by-one because they came to trust us,” he says. “I score every single wine, to give a perspective to people. I tasted over 1,200 different wines last year.”

Boucher’s scoring is based on factors includ-

ing price so that members know how their favourite $20 merlot stacks up against other $20 merlots – not how it ranks against $60 merlots.

“I don’t rate the wine on my personal taste,” he says. “I rate the wines on quality versus price-point, versus popularity.”

The other key benefit of Carl’s Wine Club as a generalist club is that it is opt-in. That means that the club features a wide range of wines, but club members have no requirement to buy, nor do they have any forced shipments or expectations to engage. The club sends out weekly emails offering wines from a fea-

tured winery at a special price to members who are interested, who either buy or don’t.

“Our brand alignment is all about community,” he says. “I’m a storyteller and people love to connect emotionally to the stories. They are discovering the difference between Naramata Bench and Niagara.”

There are no expectations, no pre-built cases, and no demands.

“We do not work for any winery,” Boucher says. “You don’t have to buy every time. There’s no pressure. No commitment.”

Each year, Carl’s Wine Club sends an email to about 300 wineries asking if they want

25 Summer 2023
Mission Hill seating for a summer concert. Events are a major draw for many wine club members.

to participate in the club. Rob Hammersley, owner and winemaker with Black Market Wine Company in Kaleden said ‘yes.’

Small But Mighty

Hammersley bought an existing five-acre vineyard in 2018 that had been growing grapes for other wineries for more than 35 years. Instead of following that routine, he opened Black Market Wine Company in 2020 and makes about 3,000 cases a year, with the help of contract acreage. It’s a small winery with a big vision.

“For a small winery, I produce quite a few different wines,” he says. “We have upwards of 12 to 14 different SKUs at any time. Many of the wines we do are wine club exclusive or tasting room exclusive.”

Not only has Hammersley made his wine available through Carl’s Wine Club, but he also offers his own winery wine club. It’s the best of both worlds for a smaller operation.

“It’s called the Secret Society wine club,” he says of his own club. “We have a six bottle and a 12-bottle level. We do only two shipments a year, spring and fall. It’s completely customizable by the member. People are always able to get exactly what they want.”

That level of customization is why he delayed launching the club. He was waiting for the system that allowed for control. There are also club-exclusive wines, free shipping, discounts and the wine club fare offered by small wineries. He enjoys how the Secret Society meshes with Carl’s Wine Club because it provides an opening to a whole new market of wine lovers. In fact, Boucher’s club members voted Black Market Wine Company the BC winery of the year.

The best of BC and best of Ontario held parties at both a BC location and at an Ontario location featuring both wineries’ products. It’s part of the appeal of Carl’s Wine Club in action.

“Using offers through Carl’s allows us to get our wines a little further into the market than we could do ourselves,” Hammersley says.

Insider Benefits Are Experiential

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery was established in 1981 and officially began its wine club in 2015.

“It’s definitely evolved a lot,” says Graham Nordin, general manager, about the wine club. “We really recognize that the wine club is an extension of our winery family. These are the most important guests we have on the property; they are our story tellers outside of the winery.”

There are three different levels of wine club membership: Reserve, Terroir and Legacy. Club members benefit from club exclusive wines, fully customizable shipments, discounts and benefits other clever wineries know to provide. But there are a number of special offerings that are specific to this beautiful vineyard. One is the estate room, exclusively for wine club members; another is nothing short of what life memories are made of.

In 2008, the first concert was held, taking advantage of rolling hills, the deepening sky at dusk and the intimate vibe only possible in a vineyard overlooking a lake. Now, concerts have become an annual expectation with the winery’s Summer Concert Series.

“Tickets go to wine club members first,” Nordin says. “They’re not just an incredible opportunity to see an amazing artist in one of the more beautiful places in the OK valley, but we’ve also evolved a unique culinary experience as well.”

Concert-goers can choose a three-course meal with wine tastings on the Terrace or in the Chagall room; or those looking for a less formal option can choose the patio picnic complete with a bottle of wine and three lighter courses. Or, there’s the simplicity of just pairing concert tickets with a couple of glasses of wine.

“It’s become such a fabric of what we do here at Mission Hill,” he says. “We’re trying to create these really unique memories and experiences you can’t get anywhere else.”

Unique they are. With capacity for just 900 concert goers, this year’s line up is nothing short of stellar with Diana Krall, Dean Brody, Lyle Lovett, Colin James and (unsurprisingly sold out) Sarah McLachlan. Guests enjoy the show from the outdoor amphitheater on custom-built chairs that feel like they are on the grass, without the stains.

26 Summer 2023
With a focus solely on Canadian wines, Carl of Carl’s Wine Club has a lot to showcase. Carl and Mira share the best of Canadian wine through their opt-in, general wine club. Photos contributed

“You’re overlooking the lake, the vineyard,” he says. “It’s just as the sun is starting to set over the mountains. Then the first notes come up from the amphitheater.”

Mission Hill members can also enjoy pick up parties if they choose to pick up their wine order, first access to cooking classes, wine tastings and other events, like those held outside of the Okanagan in recognition that not all wine club members can be on-site for experiences.

“We wouldn’t have a wine business if it weren’t for our wine club members,” Nordin says. “It transcends the ‘oh, I get wine from a winery’.”

Wine clubs are more than selling wine.

They are community formation and friendship. Large, small; winery-specific, general. Wine clubs bring together individuals who share a love of wine and want to experience it in a variety of ways. The most successful wine clubs get to know their members and find ways to gradually create memories together. 

27 Summer 2023
Scenes from a Mission Hill concert event and dinner in Summer 2023. Photos by Stephanie Symons


Family and friends are at the core of boutique winery,

28 Summer 2023


It’s not the road less travelled, but it can be easy to fly along the Okanagan Highway just south of Oliver and miss vinAmité Winery and Wine Lounge.

It looks a little bit like a fruit stand snuggled into a hillside. Once people get to know that there is fruit here – just in the form of luscious grapes fermented in a French fashion – they seek it out and keep coming back not just for the wine, but also for the comfortable feeling.

Catherine Coulombe is the winemaker of the family operation and says that while the wine making process and end results are taken very seriously, guests will see nothing but a relaxed inviting environment at this winery.

“Unpretentious would be a good word to use,” she says. “While taking the wine very seriously. But at the end of the day, it’s a beverage that you can share with the people you love. We’re too small to be putting out a product that doesn’t fit our brand. After 10 vintages of making wine, we know our style.”

That style – French with slight tannins - was formed through the family’s tastebuds. Wine creation including the blending and tasting, then tasting and blending is very much a family event.

“We do all the tasting together,” Coulombe

says of her father Ray, mom Wendy and sister Nathalie.

Wendy, notes that her husband and their daughter Catherine have “the same taste buds. And I have a love of my vines; to take care of them in terms of health. We don’t use any herbicides or pesticides, so we are really fussy about our vines and our grapes. We are sustainable.”

And the vines are where this family’s story with wine began. Ray and Wendy had been running their own marketing communications firm in Montreal for more than 20 years but craved a change of pace. They began travelling North America extensively and thought they’d move to the country. In 2008 they found their way to Oliver and started a new love affair.

“They found this beautiful five-acre vineyard,” Coulombe says. “They fell in love with it. Just being out there nurturing the vines as natural as possible.”

The couple went to Okanagan College to learn about pruning and vineyard management. They grew the grapes for other wineries until 2013 when Coulombe followed her parents’ move to the Okanagan.

“They used to do it all by themselves, just the two of them and they loved it,” she says. But although they were a grape grower for wineries, her dad had a vision of making their own wine. “It was a dream. It wasn’t

29 Summer 2023
A family that wines together wins together! Family values are what comes into play at VinAmite with Wendy, Ray, Catherine and Nathlie. Photos contributed

something we necessarily thought would happen,” says Coulombe.

In 2012, they made a very small amount of wine, just enough for friends and family to try, but it was enough. More than good enough for a boutique winery to be established in a tight-knit community that still believes in bartering and sharing with neighbours.

“Duck eggs and duck fat in exchange for rosé,” she says. “The morel guy comes in with his muddy boots with handfuls of mushrooms.”

The open community feel is a fit for a tasting room that mirrors a good friend’s home’s kitchen in both its style with comfortable chairs and tables and the atmosphere. Coulombe’s sister’s paintings adorn the walls and ensure her presence is at the winery even when she can’t be.

“It’s like an art gallery when you walk in,” she says. “It feels like you’re with family. It’s comfortable, it’s cozy.”

Nathalie used to work in the vines a lot before her artists’ career took on more of her time, but she still participates in all of the important winery decisions with her family because she is an integral part.

“The name, vinAmité, in French means friendship and wine,” she says. “That’s how we were brought up. My parents would collect our friends who didn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving. My dad grew up in a large family on the prairies where everyone played an instrument. I think it just always shone through our personalities to have that little bit of, ‘You’re always welcome and you should feel at home here’.”

The four acres under vine on the site are supplemented with grapes from local vineyards the family knows well. Chardonnay, pinot gris, gamay noir, cabernet sauvignon, petit Verdot, merlot, malbec, viognier, and cabernet franc make up the varieties used in the wines.

As a boutique winery, the first couple of vintages were single varietals and these still exist in the vinAmité pinot gris, chardonnay and gamay noir wines. There are also a number of blends as well as a rosé and a port making up the portfolio of nine wines.

“I think the most we’ve made is just under 3,000 cases,” Coulombe says. “It’s pretty small compared to a lot of bigger wineries, but for our size, it’s just right. It’s manageable.”

In addition to Wendy’s oversight of the vine care and Catherine’s winemaking, everyone participates in keeping things running smoothly, including in the lounge which offers Canadian cheese and charcuterie boards inside, or on the outdoor patio with sweeping views of the vineyard. There are food items for sale and books focused on wine, food, the Okanagan and more. It’s a nod to one of Ray’s passions, which is short story and fiction writing.

Under the patio is Coulombe’s wine room; the house sits atop over the barrel room. It’s all purposely built into the hillside so it can be deceptive when people drive up thinking they’ve stumbled upon a fruit stand.

“When we’re small like we are, we know

many of our customers,” she says. “We’re lucky in this area that there are so many different styles of wineries.”

This allows smaller, intimate wineries like vinAmité to refer visitors to other similar wineries, creating their own niche within a wine region. It all comes down to taste, which she agrees is personal.

“At the end of the day, it’s about your own personal taste and thinking about that taste and when you’re going to share it with people,” she says. “It shouldn’t be complicated.”

When the wines are a fit for someone, they can join the wine club which is a commitment of just one case at any time in the year and can be personally curated to ensure the exact right wines for the customer. 

30 Summer 2023
Photos contributed

BCFGA Making Progress on Replant and Apple Pricing

be funded by the program. Now the good news, and there is lots of it!

• It appears the planting stream will go beyond replant to include planting, which in the past was referred to as ‘bare land’ planting.

Eligibility and project criteria will be developed through an “opportunity assessment project” and subsequent recommendations by an independent consultant.

• Tree fruit

• Grapes

• Blueberry

• Hazelnut

• Raspberry

The BCFGA’s top three priorities this year are 1, Replant Programs, 2, Orderly Marketing for the Apple Sector, and 3, a special one-time investment paid to Tree Fruit Growers after several years of market and climate challenges.

Replant Renewed - Now Planting, plus more Anticipation for the start of the growing season means decision-making and planning for the coming season, and a frequent request from members to the BCFGA is about replant.

The BCFGA recently noted to new Minister of Agriculture Pam Alexis that renewal of the tree fruit replant program would be

• A removal stream will be offered. It is unclear whether Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 removals will be eligible. The BCFGA is urging that these removals be eligible.

• A third stream will support projects in support of perennial horticulture planting. As an example, the idea of high-density peach production was once discussed under the old Tree Fruit Competitiveness Program, and is now again a possible project under the third stream of the Perennial Crop Renewal Program.

The sector development stream will allow investigation into the best types of cultivars and root

It is expected the criteria (project requirements) in the Planting stream will be more extensive, and that the level of grants will be higher than previous programs. The BCFGA is advocating for reasonable, straight-forward program criteria. The Planting program design work may take several months to complete, so a little more patience is required before the program requirements are clarified. Requirements for the Removal stream are likewise not established yet. It may be ruled that Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 removals are not eligible for a removal grant, but Fall 2023Spring 2024 removals would be eligible. BCFGA has requested further discussion on this issue and will continue to seek retro-

Total funding for the program is $15 million. Program intake will be continuous, with specific dates set to process batches of applications. Program funding will be allocated in order of application date, so long as the project meets the program criteria. Once the program funding is fully expended, the program will end.

Orderly Marketing for Apples

Following a trial run of an Apple Packer Group, more progress was needed to overcome the destructive internal competition in the industry that has resulted in BC apples being sold within Canada at a significant discount compared to competitors.

In order to overcome this deficiency and threat to the apple sector, a new way of doing business is needed, considering acreage is down from 8,500 to 6,700 acres in the past four

The Tree Fruit Industry Stabilization Plan has approved funding to examine orderly marketing. Despite some opposition, it is

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- There is no predetermination on a solution; only direction that some form of orderly, disciplined marketing must displace the current, financially unsustainable direction.

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The three-legged stool

With the new Planting Program and Orderly Apple Marketing, one of the BCFGA priorities remains unaddressed; namely the financial situation of the tree fruit sector after years of adverse weather and market impacts. The BCFGA continues to appeal to the Minister of Agriculture to help the industry in a time of financial stress, as there has been and will continue to be help for other commodities and sectors of the economy that are in dire financial straits. We are simply asking for fairness, based on measurable, real financial stress.

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Taking Sustainable Agriculture to the Next Level

their commitment to sustainability by participating in the Wildlife Habitat Steward program with Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship (OSS).

Sustainable agriculture practices are becoming increasingly prevalent, with more and more farmers each year implementing environmentally-friendly strategies to conserve water, promote healthy soil, and reduce their impact on surrounding natural spaces.

Practices like watering with drip hoses and using drought-tolerant ground cover crops are becoming the norm in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

Some growers are furthering

Wildlife Habitat Stewards work to care for natural areas in and around their farms, promoting biodiversity and helping conserve important wildlife habitats. In return, they receive recognition, advice, and technical support from OSS for this commitment.

Being a Wildlife Habitat Steward does not mean that these growers must make drastic changes to their production.

Over 50 orchardists and viticulturists currently work with OSS to implement best management practices for wildlife while maintaining all land use rights and decisions, and often these

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practices benefit the farm as well. Just like every farm is different, stewardship practices on each farm will also be different, ranging from planting native trees and shrubs, to encouraging nesting birds, to retaining untouched habitat.

Restoring natural areas is one way that OSS often helps stewards improve habitats around their farm. Many times planting happens around creeks and sloughs, as restoring these riparian habitats (the strips of land along streams, rivers, lakes and ponds) has a host of benefits for humans, farms, and animals.

A healthy replanted riparian area filters fertilizers and sediment from ground runoff, keeping water cleaner. Plant roots in the habitat also hold the soil

together to reduce erosion and high stream flows during spring runoff. Natural areas provide habitat for efficient native pollinators like mason bees and predatory insects such as praying mantids.

Sometimes, restoring habitat can have additional positive effects, like at Ranbir and Shinder Kambo’s cherry orchard in Osoyoos. In 2009, they partnered with OSS to help re-excavate and restore a wetland in their orchard that had been filled by previous owners. A few removed cherry trees later (and many replanted native trees and shrubs), the pond was complete and is now home to many species, including threatened Painted Turtles and Great Basin Spadefoots.

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This is obviously a huge benefit to wildlife, but the Kambos found that their cherry yield actually increased despite the removed cherry trees because the large amount of water in the orchard helped regulate the surrounding air temperature and reduced the impact from late season frosts.

Consciously caring for wildlife habitat around a farm nearly always has positive effects.

LEED-certified Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna has a significant Integrated Pest Management program. They strive to be insecticide-free and have numerous bird boxes scattered throughout the vineyards for insect-eating birds like bluebirds and swallows.

The abundance of insect-eating birds almost certainly provides a level of insect control that would be difficult to achieve otherwise; a single family of swallows will eat up 2,000 insects per day. In addition, several tall roosting posts are installed in the vineyards to provide vantage points from which birds-of-prey can hunt for rodents.

Tantalus Vineyards also preserves a 10-acre section of low-elevation forest habitat that provides a corridor through which wildlife can move safely, instead of coming into conflict with vineyard workers.

Leaving a natural area untouched is a simple and highly effective way to care for wildlife habitat.

The Venables and Brindamours of Forbidden Fruit Winery in Cawston do just this. They have one of the healthiest remaining Black Cottonwood forests in the Similkameen Valley, in addition to a large tract of beautiful sagebrush-steppe grassland. Recognizing the value of these areas, they have left them intact, providing habitat to all matter of local wildlife from rattlesnakes to the endangered Yellow-breasted Chat and Western Screech-owl.

As sustainable agriculture practices continue to grow in popularity and importance, so too does the importance of caring for natural habitats.

Initiatives like Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship’s Wildlife Habitat Steward program can help farmers implement wildlife-friendly practices while still maintaining all land use rights and decisions. For more information about OSS, or to inquire about becoming a Wildlife Habitat Steward, contact them at info@osstewardship.ca or 2507701467.

Valerie Maida works for the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society. Learn more at www.osstewardship.ca

34 Summer 2023
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Wine Growers BC: Annual Vintage Report For 2022

lenges, the 2022 vintage will be remembered for incredible harvest conditions, remarkable fruit quality, and average to above average yields.

Wine Growers British Columbia released its annual Vintage Report which tells the tale of two vintages for 2022: The first half of the year characterized by cool conditions, the second half by spectacular warm and sunny days.

These two tales have one ending; at harvest time winegrowers across the province welcomed bountiful yields of high-quality fruit.

“Wine Growers BC was pleased to host winemakers and viticulturists from across the province at our annual forum this past December to review the 2022 growing season in BC vineyards,” said Miles Prodan, CEO & President of Wine Growers British Columbia. “As reflected in the Vintage Report, there was resounding agreement that while not without its chal-

“BC wine lovers can look forward to celebrating the bounty this year as wineries release their 2022 wines in tasting rooms, wine shops, and on restaurant wine lists.”

The Okanagan Valley perfectly emulates the idea of 2022 being ‘a tale of two vintages’, with winter conditions steady, save a cold snap in late December 2021; spring being cool and wet, resulting in late budbreak and flowering; then summer arriving dramatically, with consistent heat and sun doing wonders for fruit development and quality.

“The wines all show brilliant natural acidity, great fruit profile and a wonderful balance,” said Evan Saunders, winemaker at Blasted Church Vineyards. Saunders is among the majority (4 of 5) of Okanagan Valley winegrowers who welcomed a return to what would be described as normal yields from their vines, notable after the

three-year short crop trend.

The neighbouring Similkameen Valley experienced a similar cool to hot growing season, capped off by ideal harvest conditions. The growing degree day (GDD) count from the Cawston weather station reveals 2022 as the fourth warmest vintage in the last ten years, impressive considering how cool and wet the season began. All that heat and sun the vines enjoyed through late summer and early fall resulted in clean fruit with concentrated flavours.

“The aromatic whites and rosé wines are bright and mineral driven with above average levels of fruit intensity,” said Dwight Sick, general manag-

er and winegrower at Seven Stones Winery. Of the red varieties, Sick mentions “great structure, bright acidity with low pH and moderate alcohol levels,” suggesting BC wine lovers can look forward to elegance and ageability from the 2022 wines. The interior BC wine regions of Thompson Valley, Lillooet, Shuswap, and the Kootenays followed a similar pattern of a cool winter with a notable cold snap, and a cool wet spring, but in the end recording on average or higher than average GDD levels for the year.

Observations on yield vary through these regions, with winter damage a site-specific occurrence in some cases result-

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ing in similar crop levels to last year. In Lillooet, Alex Nel, winemaker/viticulturist at Fort Berens Estate Winery, describes experiencing “no extreme heat and a cooler season,” adding he “expects it to be a very elegant vintage.”

Over to the coastal regions of Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island. Typically cooler than the interior regions, winegrowers here were doubly grateful for the warm and dry conditions from July through October, allowing the vines to thrive and produce ripe, flavourful fruit at higher yields than recent vintages.

Winemaker Mary McDermott, from Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, agrees with her colleagues from inland when noting that “2022 was definitely an interesting season” and in concluding “the resulting wines are well balanced with good acidity, balanced alcohol and sweetness.”

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After a delayed but abundant harvest, those winemakers who left fruit on the vine intending to craft the rare late harvest, and rarer still Icewine, continued to monitor weather forecasts closely. Temperatures dipped to the required -8C for Icewine, with pickings taking place in early November in Kelowna, and late November in Cawston, the last on record being late January 2023 in the Shuswap region.

The total tonnage for Icewine from the 2022 vintage reached 113, an increase over the previous two years which saw35 tonnes in 2021, and 75 tonnes in 2020.

The Wines of British Columbia Vintage Guide provides a snapshot of the growing conditions in BC vineyards for each vintage from the last ten years. While the nine geographical indications of British Columbia are all distinct in climate, terroir, and resulting wine styles, the Vintage Guide is a useful educational tool for BC wine professionals to reference when tasting or serving BC wine from multiple vintages.

The 2022 vintage has now been added to the guide, which is available on WineBC.com. 

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Seven Ways to Stand Out Among Wineries and Cideries

wines that have a distinctive flavour profile.

For example, winemakers can use different types of oak barrels or different yeasts to create a distinguishing flavour, or use production methods such as using wild yeast or aging the wine in clay pots.

more likely to become repeat customers and advocates for a brand that they feel aligned with their values and personality. They also may be willing to pay more for a brand that they perceive as higher quality, authentic, and aligned with their values.

and hotels, can help wineries and cideries reach new audiences and increase brand awareness.

Owners and marketing contacts should consider partnerships and collaborations that align with their brand values and target audience.

Today’s customer is spoiled for choice. Your business is just one of dozens that the discerning customer may choose from, so how can you attract customers and stand out from the crowd?

British Columbia wineries and cideries can define their unique offerings in a variety of ways. Here are some tips and reminders to consider:

1. Emphasize the region: BC has a unique climate and terroir that can produce high-quality wines and ciders.

Wineries and cideries can highlight the unique features of the exact region, local climate, and soil, to showcase the unique flavours and characteristics of your products. Something special about your orchard? Are you in a Sub GI? Wine from a single vineyard? Where it’s grown can give the beverage a flavour profile that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Tell us about it.

2. Celebrate local: Using local grapes, apples, and other fruit makes our wines and ciders distinct from those made in other regions. People love to support local and local ingredients showcase the flavours of BC’s terroir. Remind people that when they support you they are supporting local economies.

3. Experiment with different varieties and methods: Wineries and cideries can experiment with lesser-known varieties to create unique and distinctive products. Wineries can also use winemaking methods to create

4. Embrace sustainable practices: Many consumers are becoming more aware of the impact of human activities on the environment and are seeking products that are produced using sustainable practices.

Sustainable wines and ciders are often made with methods that minimize the use of chemicals and reduce carbon emissions. Sustainable wines and ciders are often made with organic or biodynamic farming practices, which means they are free from synthetic chemicals and pesticides.

This can appeal to consumers who are concerned about their health and the potential risks associated with consuming products that contain synthetic chemicals. Wineries and cideries can adopt sustainable practices, such as using organic or biodynamic farming methods, to appeal to these consumers.

5. Develop a strong brand: A strong brand can help wineries and cideries stand out in a crowded market.

Owners and marketing contacts should consider developing a unique brand identity that communicates the values and personality of their winery or cidery. A strong brand can help to build trust with consumers by communicating the quality and authenticity of its products.

Consumers may be more likely to trust a brand that has a clear and consistent message and are

6. Engage with consumers: Engaging with consumers can help wineries and cideries build brand loyalty and create a community of supporters. Owners and marketing contacts should consider hosting events, in addition to offering tours, and engaging on social media to connect with consumers.

7. Collaborate with other local businesses: I’ve said it before: collaboration with other local businesses, such as restaurants

By emphasizing the unique features of BC’s terroir, experimenting with different varieties, adopting sustainable practices, developing a strong brand, engaging with consumers, and collaborating with other local businesses, BC wineries and cideries can define their unique offering and stand out in a competitive market.

Leeann Froese owns Town Hall Brands. townhallbrands.com or on social @townhallbrands


Katrina D’Costa, Winemaker at Summerland’s Haywire Winery

O&V: How did you get started in the wine industry?

Katrina D’Costa: In 2014 I decided to take a leap and change my career. I started a tasting room position with two small wineries on the Naramata Bench and in one I found an amazing mentor that brought me out into the vineyard before and after my shifts, and taught me about winemaking and viticulture.

I fell in love with being out in the vineyard and working with the wine, but it took me a couple years to get my feet firmly planted in a cellar in the field, so I worked as a wine club and tasting room manager as well as social media and marketing manager to get to know as much of the ins and outs of a winery as possible.

O&V: Where did you go to school or apprentice?

Katrina: I was lucky enough to work for a small, family owned and operated winery on the Bench as their winemaker, under the consultation of winemaker Bradley Cooper, who was a wonderful mentor to me in my first two years in the cellar.

The following years of winemaking were filled with people who always made the time to work with me and teach me until I was able to develop my own style and confidence in the cellar and vineyard. Currently I am working under Matt Dumayne, who has helped me refine my style in organics and sustainable wine, along with Duncan Billing, who always has time to talk about new and interesting organic farming methods.

O&V: Have you worked in any other countries?

Katrina: Not yet. I will be heading to Japan this year to learn more about their wine industry and hopefully get to see something truly unique!

O&V: What is your favourite varietal to work with?

Katrina: I think Gamay is a beautiful grape, but my favorite is Cabernet Franc.

O&V: What is the best thing about your job?

Katrina: Honestly, there is very little I don’t

love about my job. It encourages me to be out in nature and understand environmental sciences, biology, chemistry, and math but it also inspires creativity.

O&V: Is there a particular wine or vintage that you have made that you are most proud of?

Katrina: 2018 would have to be the year and vintage I was most proud of. It was the first vintage that I felt I crafted and grew that had my stamp on it, so to speak. The feeling of bottling that vintage was such a cool and exciting moment. 

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Katrina D’Costa, Winemaker at Summerland’s Haywire Winery

pages 38-39

Seven Ways to Stand Out Among Wineries and Cideries

page 37

VS Spreaders from Kubota

page 36

Wine Growers BC: Annual Vintage Report For 2022

page 35

Meet our Agriculture Services Team

page 34

Meet the 5075EN Bac k EN Ac tion

page 33

Taking Sustainable Agriculture to the Next Level

page 33


page 32

BCFGA Making Progress on Replant and Apple Pricing

pages 31-32


pages 29-30


pages 23-24


pages 21-22


page 20

Historic Investment in Food Security Supports British

page 19

Quail’s Gate Winery Receives Sustainable Winegrowing Certification

page 18

The Results Are In For 2023 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards

pages 16-17

50th Anniversary BBQ at Terralink

page 15


page 14

Clos de Soleil La Côte Vineyard Now Officially Certified 100% Organic!

page 14

Federal Gov’t Drops Excise Tax Hike From 6.3% to 2% to Help Producers

page 13

BCFGA Optimistic For Better Harvest After Series of Difficult Years

page 12

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Agricultural Land Reserve

page 11


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