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Reader's Survey Fruit & Wine Industry

Year in Fruit Year in Wine O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Canadian Winemaker Series

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Photo by Nalidsa Sukprasert |

View of Osoyoos and Haynes Lake Provincial Park on Okanagan Lake.

Features 21 2020 Fruit Round Up 24 Reader's Fruit Survey 30 The Year in Wine 2020

38 O'Rourke's Peak Cellars 50 Canadian Winemaker Series: Gavin Miller Cover Photo by Alexander Chaikin

Photo by O'Rourke's Peak Cellars

32 Reader's Wine Survey

Harvesting at O'Rourke's Peak Cellars. Page 38 4

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Regulars 6 Publisher's View – Lisa Olson 8 Calendar 11 News & Events 43 Seeds Of Growth – Glen Lucas 45 Legal Libations – Denese Espeut Post 47 Marketing Mix – Leeann Froese

Photo by WSDA

49 BCWI – Carey Jones

Scientist remove Murder Hornets in Washington State. Page 12

Year End 2020



Choosing Kindness


t’s December now, usually a time for decorating for Christmas and toasting in the New Year… but this year has been very different and deserves some extra special toasts as we have all come through a lot.

Vol. 61, No 6 Year End 2020

Many people spent time earlier this year worrying about their jobs, their health and well being, how much to stock up on essentials, and also watching their ‘goanywhere’ freedom become very limited. While others worried, growers were busy managing farm labour and getting their tender fruits off the tree, processed and delivered in a timely manner.


Wineries and cideries adjusted tasting rooms to offer intimate tastings with the recommended protocols, stepped up their online shipments and welcomed local wine drinkers who responded with more purchases. It seems appropriate at this time of year to share something I found on social media. It was an image that popped up that read, “If you have the chance to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.” We do need more kindness right now and especially toward others with all the division in the world today. Additional comments from the post from @katthegrape

Publisher Lisa Olson

Gary Symons Graphic Design Stephanie Symons Writers Photo by Stephanie Symons

The phrase, ‘we are better together’ was the action phrase for growers, who handled their own crises but also helped neighbours get their fruit harvested and into trucks for delivery. The U-pick and market operations took great care making sure their fruit was readily available.

Established in 1959

on Instagram read, “Choose kindness, it is always the right choice and the right time for being someone’s bright light.’” So this year I’m inviting you to include a toast of kindness… to loved ones, coworkers and also to those who may have made you angry. We are better together, even if we might disagree. In this Year End Issue we look over the year, talked to people in the various industries and asked some of our readers what has happened in their world this past year. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We kindly toast you and your families, wishing you all the best, from all of us at O&V. Enjoy the magazine!

Denese Espeut-Post, Leeann Froese, Carie Jones, Glen Lucas Ronda Payne, Gary Symons Contact Orchard & Vine Magazine Ltd. Mailing Address 22-2475 Dobbin Road Suite #578 West Kelowna, BC V4T 2E9 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: 22-2475 Dobbin Road Suite #578 West Kelowna, BC V4T 2E9

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Account Manager BC Interior 250-575-5047

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Ken S Uppal MBA P.Ag District Manager Abbotsford & Fraser Valley 604-621-3350

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British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards 2020 Upper Bench Estate Winery in Penticton has been named winner of the prestigious British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year Award for its 2019 Riesling.

“Quite an honour,” Miller said. “But you know, I always say I try to make my wine quite consistently, and we were using grapes from the same two vineyards as the year before, but I think in this year (2019) it was slightly drier which I think appeals to a somewhat more educated palate. That might have had something to do with it, but in all honesty wines are constantly evolving in the bottle, so to be

Screen Capture from

Upper Bench was among 107 wineries to be awarded for exemplary quality this year, the highest number to date. Coowner and winemaker Gavin Miller was typically modest about the win, saying he feels that sometimes you just get the right wine at exactly the right time.

Sommelier Emily Walker, Wine Director at The Naramata Inn and Wine Judge for the awards.

modest, I can say maybe it was just our day to shine with that particular bottle in that particular place!” The third annual 2020 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards were announced in October by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. The competition was open to all licensed BC wineries including those that produce fruit wines and mead. Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals were awarded, while the top one per cent of medal winners received platinum medals, with one wine receiving the 2020 BC Lieutenant Governor's Award for Wine of the Year.

Gavin Miller and Joshua Edwards of Upper Bench Winery & Creamery, win 2020 Wine of the Year.

“As this competition continues to grow, we are seeing not only the number of entries increase but more importantly the caliber of wines entered continues to get better each year,” said Okanagan

Wine Festivals Society Judging Chair, Julian Scholefield. “Our expert panel of judges certainly had their work cut out for them! We look forward to celebrating the list of 2020 winning wines that showcase the excellence our region has to offer and to growing the competition even more in 2021.” “I am delighted the partnership between the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has continued to flourish, giving us the opportunity to recognize the best of BC wines,” says the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. “This year had an added layer of complexity due to Covid-19, but the incredible showing of the 2020 Wine Awards indicates BC wine will continue stronger than ever in the time ahead.”

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Beekeepers Fret as Sixth Asian Giant Hornet Found in Fraser Valley In an industry already badly stung by the Covid-19 pandemic, now we have to deal with Asian Giant Hornets, an existential threat to the honey bees so crucial to the fruit growing sector.

Now these new pests have stirred up their own hornet’s nests. They’ve angered the humans, who have launched a campaign to eradicate Giant Asian Hornets from North America. On Oct. 24 entomologists wearing what looked like space suits successfully destroyed a nest by sucking the bugs out with special vacuums, and then pumping carbon dioxide into the nest to knock them out and collect the rest. Horrifyingly, in addition to the hundreds of worker bees in the nest, the officials found 76 queens, ready to start new colonies throughout the region. In fact, that’s already happening as the sixth Asian Giant Hornet was found in the Fraser Valley of BC; a clear indication nests

Photos by WSDA

Native to Asia and parts of the Russian Far East, the huge insects sometimes known, for good reason, as ‘Murder Hornets’ have now been found in multiple locations throughout the Pacific Northwest, beginning in late 2019.

Asian giant hornets in the nest.

have been established north of the border. So, why is this such a big problem? Regular Murder Hornets are massive compared to regular hornets or wasps, with workers averaging 3.8 cm long (1.5 inches), and boasting a 6mm (1/4 inch) stinger with venom so powerful that multiple stings can kill a human being even if they’re not allergic. In Japan, between 12 to 26 people are killed annually. More seriously, however, Asian Giants prey on honey bees. They are intensely predatory, and fewer than 50 hornets can exterminate a colony of tens of thousands of bees in a few hours. "We are working very closely with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to try to locate nests and then go through an eradication program," said Paul van Westendorp. The Ministry of Agriculture will be working with their American partners to track and eradicate Asian Giant Hornet nests, and hope to completely wipe out the invasive species.

WSDA entomologists analyzing the nest and its contents.

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Anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian Giant Hornet is asked to report the sighting to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1-888-933-3722.


Save the Date for BC's 2021 Organic Conference in February Highlights include a research roundup and conversations with authors Chris Smaje, Charles Massey, and Darrin Qualman, and the latest updates and advice about Covid-19 and its impacts. The podcast will be released one month prior to the conference to allow attendees to listen at their leisure.

Anyone interested in organic farming will want to save the date for BC's 2021 Organic Conference on February 27-28. The Certified Organic Associations of BC will host its annual conference with the theme for this year being Embracing Change. In light of the pandemic, the conference has a different structure. In-person workshops and seminars will be replaced by a podcast series featuring insights from around North America.

The conference weekend will feature socially-distanced farm tours around the province on Saturday. On Sunday, attendees will gather online for a keynote presentation and to converse about the

podcast and the farming year to come. Tickets will go on sale by mid-November and can be purchased online at OYAMA 10 Acres! High density Honeycrisp & Ambrosia apples + adjacent 3ac Gala lease. Sought after location north end of Middle Bench. Lake views, short walk to Wood Lake beach, boat launch, rail trail & General Store. 2 solid shops–1 with multiple bays & power, both with concrete foundations, & modest 2 bed home. MLS® $1,698,000 !


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SE KELOWNA 20+ acres - build your dream home in this upscale neighbourhood. Equestrian or farm property, mainly flat with some gentle slope. Two acres of cherries as well as a variety of older apples. Fully irrigated, farm status. MLS® $1,425,000

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LAKE COUNTRY Views of Wood & Kalamalka lakes! 9.25 acre modern apple orchard. Well-maintained, freshly reno’d 2 suite home, affordable taxes, desirable location. Close to beaches, parks, rail trail, elementary school & corner store. 20 min from Airport & UBC-O. Oversize single garage/ workshop. MLS® $1,650,000

SE KELOWNA 22.9 acre prime agricultural legacy property in exceptional SE Kelowna location. Spectacular views of Okanagan Lake, mountains and city. Ideally suited for a winery or vineyard or estate (previously planted to vines). Multiple building sites. Just 10 min from the heart of the city. MLS® $3,895,000





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Quebec Vineyard Suffers Grape Theft, Amateur Winemaker Suspected A vineyard in Montérégie, Quebec that had more than $5,000 worth of grapes stolen last week says it’s still stumped about the culprit, despite a few clues and a plea to the public for tips.

Vignoble et Cidrerie Coteau Rougemont was the victim of grape theft.

Michel Robert, owner of Vignoble et Cidrerie Coteau Rougemont, says the thief stole 500 kilograms of grapes, cleaning off a quarter of a row of vines. The theft was discovered on Thursday morning when workers arrived to harvest them.

That quantity of grapes would have produced almost 300 bottles of white wine, Robert said, adding he believes that’s exactly what’s being done with them now. “There is no market for the resale of grapes to producers,” he told CTV News. The thief “is truly believed to be an individual, for his own consumption.” Vineyard staff also believe it’s someone local because there were ATV tracks in the area of the theft.

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5 Generations of Family Farming Experience in the Okanagan!

Great Great Grandfather Thorlakur Thorlakson harvesting grain on the Commonage near Predator Ridge in Vernon.

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Grandfather Rexford Marshall next to a newly planted orchard in the Carrs Landing area of Lake Country.

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Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau says supporting Canada’s growers is a priority for the federal government during the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking at the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry's first-ever virtual Fall Harvest event, Bibeau praised the strength and resiliency of Canada's fruit and vegetable producers and processors amid the pandemic. Bibeau also highlighted the Government of Canada's efforts to support produce farmers and processors who are facing significant challenges during the crisis, including the new $35 million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund to support farm workers' health and safety, and the $50 million Surplus Food Rescue Program to ensure surplus goods reach vulnerable populations while providing a fair return to producers. Bibeau says the federal government has taken several steps to facilitate the arrival of temporary foreign workers into Canada, which resulted in about 85% of workers arriving at Canadian farms compared to the same time last year. The Government also extended to November 30, 2020 the $50 million Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which helps growers cover the costs of observing the mandatory quarantine periods for those workers.

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Bibeau also announced three new smaller projects to benefit the sector totaling $387,000 under the AgriRisk Initiatives program. These projects will examine better financial tools and insurance products to provide growers with greater stability and sustainability. They included: Research of the Ontario horticulture sector to support development of a wholefarm producer-paid top-up insurance product; a risk management financial product for disease and insect infestations for greenhouses; and development of a tool for growers to assess their vulnerability and take the necessary actions to increase their resilience to climate change.

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TELUS Agriculture is Launching with Big Plans for the Global Food System

TELUS has created an entirely new business unit dedicated to providing innovative solutions to support the agriculture industry with connected technology. The company says TELUS Agriculture will optimize the food value chain by leveraging data in new ways to increase efficiency, production, and yields, delivering better food outcomes for businesses and the end consumer. To do so, TELUS will leverage its expertise in connectivity and data to streamline operations, improve food traceability, and provide consumers with fresher and healthier food. TELUS Agriculture currently supports more than 100 million acres of agricultural land, backed by a team of more than 1,200 experts across Canada, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Ar-

menia, Germany, China, and Australia. “By means of our technology innovation, artificial intelligence and human compassion, we will help farmers and ranchers produce food for the world’s everexpanding population more efficiently, safely and in a more environmentally friendly manner,” said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS. “Our efforts to optimize food production will contribute to a better yield of food supply to meet the ever-growing requirements of our hungry planet.” Over the course of the last year, TELUS has completed several key acquisitions, assembling a suite of key assets in the agriculture industry. Also on Nov. 12, TELUS Agriculture announced its most recent cornerstone acquisitions, global sales and distribution solutions powerhouse AFS Technologies and SaaS farm management platform Agrian. With the addition of AFS and Agrian,


Photo by the Government of BC

The Canadian telecom giant TELUS has now set its new goal for growth in a surprising area, with the November 12 launch of TELUS Agriculture.

TELUS Agriculture is now a global leader with customers in more than 50 countries, the company says.

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US Trade Actions Expanded The US government is broadening its trade measures against Canadian food producers, announcing three separate investigations into blueberries, bell peppers and strawberries. They include a ‘Global Safeguard’ investigation into blueberries, and fact-finding investigations into bell peppers and strawberries. As the investigations have implications for products across production types including field and greenhouse, and all regions, several working groups at the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) are engaged says Rebecca Lee, executive director. Blueberries: On Sept. 29, the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally requested that the US International Trade Commission (USITC) launch a Section 201 Global Safeguard investigation into whether the imports of Canadian blueberries are causing injury to domestic US producers. On October 23, the USITC issued its foreign producer questionnaire, to which Canadian blueberry producers and exporters were required to respond by November 16. The USITC’s investigation will lead to a recommendation by next March as to whether the US President should impose a duty or a quantitative restriction on imports into the United States, including those from Canada. “In order to defend your interests and increase the likelihood that no such tariff or quota will be imposed, it is very important that Canadian producers fully participate in the investigation, by filling out the foreign producer questionnaire,” said Lee.  Lighthizer subsequently asked for similar investigations of bell pepper and strawberry imports, which may transition into an expedited Global Safeguard investigation as has already happened with blueberries.   After this, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) could recommend tariffs and duties against foreign producers, including Canada.

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Ontario Craft Wineries Petition to Change Tax Structure

Photo courtesy

The Ontario wine industry is calling for major changes to taxation of their products, saying they are the most heavily taxed industry in Canada. “The wine industry here in Ontario is at a crossroads,” said Ed Madronich, president at Flat Rock Cellars in the Niagara Peninsula. “We pay an import tax here in Ontario of about 35 per cent on our wines to sell them here. In addition to that there’s a 6.1 per cent additional tax that’s put on. Nowhere else in the world has to do that.” Ontario Craft Wineries has started a petition at asking people to support their call for changes to the province’s taxation system. The group is asking for the 6.1 per cent tax to be scrapped, and for the province to look at a reduction to the 35 per cent ‘import’ tax. Other provinces do not charge taxes or fees on wines sold at the farmgate, and for BC wineries, wine sold either online or at the winery are by far their highest margin products. The BC Wine Institute has also said BC’s policy of encouraging farmgate sales increases employment, as estate wineries hire people for tasting bars, sales, and marketing. As well, Madronich says the heavy import taxes put Ontario wineries in a bind as they try to compete against often lower priced imports from large manufacturers.

Flat Rock Cellars in the Niagara Peninsula.

“ The Ontario industry doesn’t want a handout,” he said. “We just want a level playing field to compete with international wineries. There are 11,000 jobs that are on the line, and an amazing culture and an amazing experience that we’ve been able to build over the years.” Allan Schmidt, president of Vineland Estates Winery, says the drive for change is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit many wineries hard due to reductions in local and international tourism.

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WorkSafe BC's COVID-19 APP

New app for your COVID-19 Safety Plan

New mobile app helps workers and employers access WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 resources on the go

Develop your required COVID-19 Safety Plan directly on your mobile device with our new app for iOS and Android.

Like many other essential services, employers in agriculture had to act quickly to protect their workers, do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and continue to operate safely. For many employers in agriculture, accessing health and safety information can be challenging due to the fact that their business rarely involves sitting behind a computer at a desk. Often they're working in fields, orchards or vineyards, where smartphones and other mobile devices are their main source for information. To help address this, WorkSafeBC has a new comprehensive app containing resources, industry specific guidance, and a COVID-19 safety plan template — all available to access from a smartphone or tablet. The new app leverages the resources and information available on worksafebc. com and has been created to provide an additional way for workers and employers to view the COVID-19 prevention information for their industry. Employers are guided through the process of developing their COVID-19 safety plan within the app, and directed to industry-specific resources to help them do so. They're then able to email their safety plan to themselves to print out later. Workers can select their industry in the app to see guidance and protocols relevant to their job.

The app includes checklists and links to industry-specific protocols and resources that can help you keep workers healthy and safe. Visit

By improving access to these valuable health and safety resources, this industry now has access to information they need to stay healthy and safe. The app is available for iOS and Android. Stay up to date with COVID-19 information, resources and courses at

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District Wine Village Welcomes Their First Wineries It has been a truly monumental year for District Wine Village, located just north of Oliver. With construction having just started in February, the team at Greyback Construction have already erected the first six buildings, two of which saw their first onsite crush in October, and construction has begun on the 600-person capacity entertainment plaza and two additional buildings. This first phase of construction will be completed in spring 2021, with eight producers, as well as the onsite restaurant set to open to the public in late May. There is additional space for up and coming craft wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries to launch their dream brand this spring. New lessors will join the likes of Gneiss Winery, Wapiti Cellars and Vintners Cove, all of which executed their first onsite harvest this year. Trading Post Brewing, which currently operates a brewery in Langley and two eateries in the Lower Mainland, will be opening an onsite brewery and have also signed on to operate the onsite restaurant. Stay tuned for exclusive introductions to the team from Gneiss and Trading Post in future issues. Today, we are excited to bring you a taste of Vintners Cove. Eric Mide and father Leo Mide, along with renowned local grapegrower and Osoyoos Indian Band member Sam Baptiste, started Vintners Cove, adopting the name from their resort development and vineyard at the north foot of Osoyoos Lake.

Mike Daley, Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA, Kimberley Barnes BCWI and Elen Walker Mathews TOTA.

Eric and Sam have been working together as garagiste wine producers for several years, and joining District Wine Village this year has allowed them to take their business to the next level and fulfill a lifelong family dream for Eric and Leo. “With a love of the land and craftsmanship, my Bestefa [Grandfather] always had a dream of owning his own winery,” Eric remarks. “He emigrated from Denmark to Canada in 1948 and, after finally settling in the Lower Mainland in the 1952, started an orchard and also began growing table grapes. Although he passed away long before this project began, it lives on through my Dad and I. It was amazing to see the glow on my Dad’s face when he came in during harvest and

saw our dream becoming reality.” With assistance from Consulting Winemaker Aaron Crey, Sam, who is also the general manager of Nk’Mip Vineyards, selects only the finest fruit from some of the Okanagan’s oldest and most prestigious vineyard blocks. When they open in May 2021, the team will release their inaugural vintages of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Ehrenfelser as well as their Ignition Red (Merlot dominant blend) and Vintners Cove Reserve Red (Cabernet dominant blend). For more information about Vintners Cove and to learn how you can start building your dream brand at District Wine Village, visit DistrictWineVillage. com.

Build the brand of your dreams at Canada’s first wine village • Limited spaces available • Opportunities for craft wine, cider, beer and spirit producers • Turnkey production facility with built-in tasting room • Low capital outlay • Access to shared crush pad & production resources • Co-operative marketing and PR DISTRICTWINEVILLAGE.COM

20 Year End 2020

Call 250.809.1869 or email to discuss lease rates and start creating your story!

A Different Kind of Year

There’s no mistaking that 2020 was filled with more than the usual challenges, but there were positives to be found. By Ronda Payne Every year is different in farming, orcharding, beverage production and growing, yet 2020 certainly took the prize for being the most unpredictable, chaotic and challenging year in recent memory. Most people want to put 2020 behind them and forget about it, but in truth there were some positives to be found in this year’s growing season and those items will be brought to the forefront in this, Orchard & Vine’s 2020 annual fruit round-up. Here you’ll find the pluses and the minuses that growers celebrated, suffered through, and shared. It’s been a long year for most and simply making it to the end of 2020 is an accomplishment. Learning from the challenges and rejoicing in the successes will hopefully make moving into 2021 easier and more prosperous for everyone.

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We set up a separate entrance for u-pick to have social distancing away from the farm market. Before they entered the route into the u-pick, there was a sanitation station. Kevin Husband

Together we are better Farmers and fruit growers, unlike those in other business segments, believe in sharing and in helping their fellow growers do well. Orchardists want to see their fellow fruit growers succeed so they pass on information and share resources in a collaborative fashion. It will be a cold day you-know-where when a company like Coca-Cola sends employees over to help out on the bottling line at Pepsi, but that’s exactly what growers did this year. 2020 marked a year of helping each other out in a variety of ways, whether that was through labour, equipment or information sharing. In Delta, on Westham Island, berry grower Kevin Husband of Emma Lea Farms knew fairly early into the season that COVID-19 was going to impact his u-pick operation. He’s a glass-half-full kind of guy, so instead of bemoaning it, he sought to work with the regulations as he understood them to make things work. “We set up a separate entrance for upick to have social distancing away from the farm market,” he says. “Before they entered the route into the u-pick, there was a sanitation station.”

It took the farm team about two weeks to get everything from partitions and stickers for the new buckets to Interac machines in the field and drive-thru flat pick-up set up, but it was worth it. The process was fairly streamlined and the numbers of visitors were up by about a third. “The people were able to go outside and do an activity and it was a beneficial activity,” Husband says, adding, “It was the most economical way to source your fruit and secure your fruit for the winter. I never realized how strong [a motivation] that was.” He says COVID has heightened awareness of the importance of domestic agriculture. Husband’s u-pick system was so successful that berry industry specialist with the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Carolyn Teasdale, shared the standards and format with others in the industry. “It was really nice to be able to work with her, to put something together,” he says. Husband had worries, of course, about his team. “It was very stressful. Each day you’re

Kevin Husband of Emma Lea Farms designed a COVID consc

worried about the contact on your farm,” he notes. “You’re worried about your workers and your employees. We were uptight all season because of the possible risk. We just feel so blessed now that this year turned out the way it did. We had no idea what our future was for u-pick.” Berry outcomes As was the case with all fruit, weather and labour seemed to be the biggest hurdles in berries this year. These are ongoing issues that were exasperated by the challenges COVID presented. Labour especially was a major concern this year. While some berry growers were able to make u-picks work more effectively to get berries picked and sold rather than relying on an uncertain labour force, other growers weren’t comfortable offering u-pick as an option or didn’t have the facilities to do so. Strawberry growers in micro-climates, like Husband, had strong growing seasons with good fruit and positive yields, describing it as a great season. Others,

22 Year End 2020

“It’s actually been pretty good. Overall the crop is up from last year,” he says. “The quality is pretty good, the colour’s been nice. There’s just some varieties where the fruit just didn’t size up.” Additional positives for cranberry growers are the new varieties coming from Rutgers Cranberry Research Center and Valley Corporation, he says. “Also seeing what varieties work best for BC at the BC Cranberry Research Society Farm trials,” he notes. “Because of them, Rutgers have released a new variety specifically suited for the BC west coast called Vasanna.” Trade challenges for berry growers

Photo by Ronda Payne

The US political climate has left its mark on the future of BC berry growers as the Americans took action on a variety of allegations, and blueberries have been targeted first.

ious u-pick system that has become a standard format for the industry.

Raspberries were also hit with rain that led to mould, but expectations are for overall volumes to be up slightly over last year’s given the cold snap that kept 2019’s yields down. Like strawberries, results in raspberries were variable among growers and labour issues saw some berries rot on the canes. Meeting last year’s yield levels will be positive as acreages have declined over previous years and growers await new varieties that can withstand Fraser Valley weather and machine picking. Blueberries were down pretty much across the board due to poor pollination, weather and labour challenges. Yield results are expected to be down by as much as 25 per cent when final numbers are tallied. It was an exceptionally hard year for blueberry growers who have had excellent years recently like the 189 million

pounds of berries produced in 2019. Cranberries are among the lucky ones this berry season, according to the feedback from Grant Keefer of Yellow Point Cranberries in Ladysmith. He’s also the treasurer of the BC Cranberry Growers’ Association.

Anju Gill, executive director with the BC Blueberry Council, says it’s too early to

Photo by Emilio |

like many of those in Abbotsford, were hit with too many rain incidents that made for mouldy berries. The total crop volumes are expected to be slightly up when numbers are finalized.

In late September a US International Trade Commission investigation was announced into the cross-border trade of blueberries. If trade actions are taken against Canadian blueberries, these will take effect in June, but more information will be available after January 27 when information on the initial stage of the investigation is released. While Canada is the fourth largest source of blueberry imports to the US, the investigation is done on a global basis that will include Canadian berries. However, due to the CanadaUS-Mexico Agreement, Canadian berries will also be assessed separately.

Strawberry blossom weevil has been found in BC.

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say if BC growers will face new challenges accessing US markets. Legal counsel has been retained by trade officials in Ottawa to prepare Canada’s case with the involvement of the BC Blueberry Council.

as another import to be investigated and raspberries (while not yet named in the official report that cited blueberries and strawberries) have been mentioned by US bureaucrats as another potential target.

“There’s obviously some politics involved, but it’s really data analysis,” Gill explains. “It’s very early to say what this could look like.”

Strawberry blossom weevil identified

Other berry groups are watching the process as strawberries have been put forth

Tracy Hueppelsheuser , the Abbotsfordbased, provincial entomologist for the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, notes that in the first week of September the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

announced the discovery of two pests of note: strawberry blossom weevil and grape phylloxera. Now Hueppelsheuser is ready to help arm growers with the information they need. The strawberry blossom weevil – anthonomus rubi – was confirmed through a submission from a Fraser Valley backyard grower and is the first detection in North America. “We did an area-wide survey… and visually looked for this insect in wild cane berries,” she says. “We found it in many places in the Fraser Valley.”

Photo by Warren Wong

While the pest prefers strawberries and cane berry plants, it was also found in wild roses and cultivated roses used as road-side landscaping. Hueppelsheuser cautions growers to look for dying buds or buds that don’t open in the spring. What may look like botrytis may actually be a weevil in the bud. Parasitoid wasp Leptopilina japonica (left), which is one of the species from Asia that is now established in British Columbia. The parasitoid finds fruit infested by larvae of spotted wing Drosophila (right), and inserts eggs into the larvae beneath the surface of the fruit using a syringe-like “ovipositor”! (sort of like a stinger). The parasitoid’s offspring eats the spotted wing drosophila larva from the inside out and develops into an adult parasitoid (rather than a fly).

“Collect some buds,” she says. “Call me and we’ll make arrangements to have a look." As a major pest in Europe, the strawberry blossom weevil could be a significant

2020 Fruit Survey – We Asked & You Answered The fruit industry has been hit this year with a series of calamities of truly biblical proportions, literally including pestilence, plague, and natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic was obviously the biggest news for most economic sectors, including fruit production, but growers also faced problems with new pests, and cherry growers in particular were devastated by heavy rains that wiped out millions in revenue. In our annual Grower’s Survey, we asked and you answered on the hottest topics facing the industry, from how you’re getting through the pandemic, dealing with crop losses and new pest infestations, what the industry needs from government, and how growers are preparing for a post-COVID future. The only good news in the industry this year, it seems, comes entirely from the fortitude of growers themselves, who have shown both grit and an innovative spirit that bodes well for fruit growers in the coming years.

24 Year End 2020

What types of fruit do you grow? Cherries 53% Blueberries 40% Strawberries 33% Apples 27% Vegetables 27% Grapes (table) 20% Niche Berries 20% Peaches 20% Apricots 13% Plums 13% Raspberries 13% Nectarines












issue for berry growers. More information about the pest will become available over the winter. SWD has a new sheriff in town Spotted wing drosophila originates from Asian regions, so it stands to reason that a parasitic wasp that uses SWD larvae as an egg laying site is also from the same area. Hueppelsheuser notes there were two parasitoid wasps researchers were hoping to find and one was detected coming out of fruit in 2019. These nonstinging, tiny wasps are naturally occurring in BC. “They have established themselves in the areas where there is spotted wing,” she says. “[We are] trying to get an understanding of how wide spread the wasps are and how abundant and will they help to impact the spotted wing in fruit production.” As research continues, growers can expect a new helper in the fight against SWD in the future, but management practices like clean picking and proper disposal of fruit will continue to be important.

How do your sales compare to previous years?

Better Optics for cherries Cherry growers likely feel there is little to cheer about in 2020. Like other fruit growers, they faced labour challenges while weather issues severely challenged the crop from start to finish, according to Rick Chong, director of sales with Sutherland SA Produce. He estimates overall tonnage may be down by as much as 60 per cent over average years.

27% UP

Harsh frosts in 2019 caused issues as did rain-pitting, which hasn’t been seen this severely in Chong’s memory. “We saw splitting but the biggest issue we saw was pitting,” he explains. “It

How do your crop yields compare to previous years?

47% DOWN

27% SAME

“Some of our growers had maybe a 20 per cent crop and some didn’t have any crop,” he says. “Some weren’t able to get them off the trees.”

73% DOWN

13% SAME

13% UP



Have new products added value to your business? "Not this year and many of our "value added" events have been cancelled due to covid. Our sales this fall has been hit due to not being able to host field trips to the pumpkin patch."

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Another positive is the conversion to optical packing by the majority of cherry packers. All the Canadian packers, they are world-class now, they can compete with anyone on quality. Rick Chong wasn’t new, but it was severe. We’re seeing 20 to 25 per cent pitting that was due to rain.” With pitting not showing up until after fruit was shipped to importers, it was a hard blow to Canada’s reputation for great quality fruit. It shocked the industry, Chong says. Add this to countries facing COVID lock-downs and trade was a bitter pill this year.

On a brighter note prices in Canada were strong because of the lack of crops and Chong says the value of a bucket of cherries doubled. People were willing to pay it because of their increased awareness of local food during COVID. “Canadian prices were probably at record prices,” Chong says. Another positive is the conversion to optical packing by the majority of cherry packers. “All the Canadian packers, they are world class now,” he notes. “They can compete with anyone on quality.” New varieties of cherries out of the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre will also help with better varieties for the export market and improve grower returns. Great vintages coming from 2020 grapes Grape growers were hit by an early sudden frost, but Troy Osborne, director of viticulture for Arterra Western Vineyards isn’t too worried. Most vineyards were able to get their grapes off before there was too much fruit drop.

Troy Osborne, director of viticulture for Arterra Western Vineyards.

“We had a slow start, bud break was a bit delayed, we had a cool wet spring and

Technolgy - We Asked & You Answered Are you planning on adding more technology/ machinery to reduce reliance on labour or make your life easier? "Our new plantings are done using the KGB training system which is easier to pick (no ladders) and therefore more attractive to pickers. It is also simpler to prune." "Tough to do with apples." "Buying a blueberry cleaning line." "Purchasing a platform summer pruning sickle blade." 26 Year End 2020

early summer which resulted in a below average fruit set,” he says. “We had a pretty average late summer, but we had an exceptional fall.” Most grape growers who responded to the Orchard and Vine survey felt it was a good growing year. They also found there were positives to be had in the midst of the pandemic. This included the opportunity to slow down, spend more time with family and even become more organized and adjust the business. Many started or increased online sales with great results. In the survey, wine grape growers reported Pinot noir and several



the high fruit quality Osborne sees. “Although the yields are down, the quality is exceptional,” he says. “I’m really excited. We saw similar conditions in 2016 and some of the wines from ’16 were fantastic.” Although powdery mildew was something of an issue, Osborne says the majority of growers were able to spray at the right time to create an overall clean harvest.

white varieties were their best performers of the season. Growers also worked together to manage labour issues according to Osborne. “Certainly for some of our independent growers, labour was an issue,” he says. “Everybody really pulled together. People are pulling together to get [the fruit] off. There were definitely labour shortages throughout the industry without a doubt.” Obviously, the biggest challenge in labour was during harvest, but the crunch is expected to be worth the chaos given

Unfortunately, grape phylloxera was found on Vancouver Island in September and wine grape growers who aren’t prepared may suffer from the adverse effects of the aphid-like insect. “It’s native to eastern North America and it has travelled around the world into major grape growing regions,” says Hueppelsheuser. “It was a grower that submitted it as a suspect sample.”

“If you have weak or declining areas in your vineyard, check the roots for galls from this insect and call CFIA or me if you find anything suspect,” she says. “You may have phylloxera in your vineyard, but if you have resistant root stock, then the plants won’t get impacted.” Diversity brings growers together Lauren Sellars, owner of Snowy Mountain Organics in Cawston, believes in the strength of diversity, both within her orchard and with other farmers she works with. She has about 20 different types of peaches, 20 types of apples, 18 varieties

Coastal BC was one of the few regions free of the pest until this discovery, she says. It works like a root aphid and a leaf aphid, spending time both above and below ground. Photo by Emilio |

Photo by Gary Symons

Phylloxera Shows Up in BC

The solution is simple, though not easy. Growers need to make use of resistant North American root stock and graft European varieties onto it. With the milder coastal winters, grape growers in these regions don’t have the same protection as interior BC growers where the bug is knocked back by the cold.

“It’s actually the root damage that causes problems to the vines,” she notes. “It causes gall. At this point, we do not know how widespread it is on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Island wine grape plantings. Surveys are beginning.” This pest’s root feeding will eventually kill vines after a few years of decline.

Leaf of grapevines with galls of grape phylloxera.

What do you need to stay competitive?

Have costs of production increased?

Supply management board, government with a backbone to stop imports.

Picking costs higher - local demand for pickers drove up per pound cost for picking.

Access to crop protection chemicals to replace those we are losing.

 abour is in demand, thus more expensive. It's also L more expensive to pick a sparse crop than a full one.

Short term work visas (ie 3 months) for visitors who want to pick fruit.

Covid costs - at least extra $12,000.

More buyers, less government interference, prices need to come down, labour availability, more automation.

Due to Covid rules. Cost way up mainly because of labour and new rules and inputs.



Minimum wage increase increased all other wages.

Year End 2020


of plums, cherries, apricots, nectarines and more in what she calls her “diversity garden.”

other’s products. It allows for attendance at more markets with a greater diversity of produce.

Her experience with fruit was similar to non-organic growers this year. Cherries were awful, apricots were “off” while the other fruits did well and demand was up. However, she had to raise her prices to offset the labour challenges. She was able to get inexperienced labour, but that in itself is problematic.

“We leave the farm on Friday. We go and we pull into another cooperatively owned farm, Glen Valley, there’s two farmers there and three businesses: Close to Home Organics, Earth Apple Organic Farm and Glen Valley Organic Farm Coop,” she explains. “We give them some of our organic fruit and they give some of their organic vegetables to us.”

“I think it was hard on easily 90 per cent of [growers],” she says. “I know really good people who couldn’t hire anyone to pick their stuff.” But Lauren is looking to the future by exploring ways to create a farmer-owned collective farm-based coop. This meshes well with her collaborations with others to attend farmers’ markets with one an-

Growers with similar philosophies and growing practices can expand their product offerings this way and create more sales opportunities. “It’s the best way to do it,” she says. “It’s an art in progress.” Brown marmorated stink bug expands its turf into nuts The brown marmorated stink bug has been taking advantage of much of southern BC and Hueppelsheuser says it has made its way into hazelnuts. “Yes, there is BMSB around these rural properties,” she says. “We can detect corking and some damage in the fields. There is some low level of damage caused by the bugs in these fields but it looks like it’s confined to the edges at this point.”

Brown marmorated stink bug.

She says the bug has been a significant problem in southern Europe’s nut crops

and there are signs of impacts in Oregon as well. “Even if you are looking at nuts and they are grading out, you won’t actually be able to see the damage until you cut that nut open,” she says. Apples and pears up a size The cold snap in late October caught some apple growers off guard, but the plus was, those apples harvested without damage were large and good quality. Hank Markgraff, horticultural consultant

We Asked & You Answered


How do you feel about the ALR, Bill 52 and Bill 15?

Think the government should do more

"ALR should be abolished, it is unfair to farmers to restrict their land. Initially when it came into law there were crop guarantees as compensation." "I feel ALR is easily manipulated by big $. Should be more open to farms earning value added revenue." "Bill 52 - I would like to be able to have a smaller second residence on the farm that is not necessarily moveable."






How do you feel about the ALR, Bill 52 and Bill 15? 28 Year End 2020

in July and August, and September was looking good until the forest fires in California led to smoke cover. “It did decrease the amount of sunburn we got on our fruit,” he says. “But we just never cooled down at night. No cooling down at night means no colour formation.”

Photo by Francis |

So apple and pear growers waited and with that wait, some were hit with the surprise freeze.

with Hank’s Horticulture, notes that the season was “pretty darn good,” all things considered. “We had a good fruit set and good weather following bloom,” he says. “June threw a wrench into everybody’s works. It was cool and rainy so we have seen more apple scab than we have in, I’m going to say, 30 years.” The scab occurred in varieties on which Markgraff hasn’t previously seen the disease. Spraying wasn’t enough with the non-stop rain in June. It warmed up

“Yields were actually up this season,” he notes. “Especially for those that could get their hands on labour and could get through their thinning in a reasonable timeframe.” He feels that yields were up by about 10 or 15 percent, but losses due to the freezing are likely in the range of 10 to 12 thousand bins. It will end up putting the crop at about the same level as last year. “But the fruit size is bigger,” says Markgraff. “The same number of boxes, but instead of being size 100, they’re size 88.” Stone fruits garner strong prices The reduced volume of stone fruits on the market meant high demand and good pricing. The supply moved quickly due to the slightly below average overall yields. Apricots were hard to find and when they were available, the prices

Do you feel the government should do more to help the industry?

were strong and they were grabbed up fast. While the winter may have impacted overall yields, the few growers doing stone fruits are fresh market sellers with strong demand and little competition. Easier access to information Sure, COVID has sucked the life out of most people, but it has actually come with a few positives. One of these is the ease in which growers and farmers can access great information without leaving their comfortable chairs. Consider the fact that the Pacific Agriculture Show and Fortify (the conference for fermenters and distillers) have both created online events, as have organizations like Young Agrarians, BC Young Farmers, FarmFolk CityFolk and many, many others. In fact, a person could easily get a case of information overload without ever switching seats. There’s no doubt 2020 has been a year with unique challenges beyond the expected weather and pest issues. Here at Orchard and Vine, we want to genuinely and humbly thank our farmers and growers for persisting, looking at positive solutions and working together. Our food supply, and therefore our very existence, depends upon your work. Thank you. ■

Have you received any extra government funds related to COVID-19?

"Labour subsidies as for other businesses."

"We have applied for some funding but it hasn't gone through yet."

"Labour and promote local." "My co-orchardist had help with his workers." "Streamline SAWP process ie. regional blanket Labour Market Index Assessment when labour is short."

"I have applied for the Domestic Temporary Worker Covid Benefits (up to $1000 for PPE etc) but have received nothing yet."

"Yes and no. What the government thinks is help is sometimes detrimental!" "No hand outs!! Just restrict imports, imports are not on even playing field re: costs and regulations."

"Too little and too much red tape to get it and the wait."


Received Funds


Have Not

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The BC Wine Industry By Gary Symons Like most other industries around the world, winemakers and growers will look back at 2020 through the dark lens of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, when the BC Wine Institute surveyed the industry in mid-August, the results that came back in September painted a dismal picture of a sector in crisis. The poll by Leger Marketing showed that 83 per cent of wineries had been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and worse, one in 10 wineries and grape growers said they were at risk of losing their business, with 58 per cent saying they had suffered a large loss of revenue, and 55 per cent saying they had reduced access to customers. But what a difference a few months can make. While updated news out of the wine industry in BC has been anecdotal, BCWI CEO Miles Prodan says the vast majority of industry leaders he’s spoken to said they’ve bounced back and expect to earn revenues in line with 2019. “We were a little surprised to learn at the time that one in 10 wineries …. thought they would not make it through Covid,” Prodan said. “Generally it was relatively pessimistic, albeit it was in the middle of August so it was in the middle of the tourism season. “But, subsequent to that, it’s all anecdotal,” Prodan added. “There are some who have done reasonably well, others who have done very well, and others not so much.” In general, Prodan says it appears most wineries have fared far better than they expected when BC went through its first lockdown. That was no accident, he said, because winery owners, the BC government and the BC Wine Institute worked very hard to create a workable situation to prosper despite the pandemic. “Initially of course wineries were closed, and as they reopened we worked with them very closely on how to handle tastings,” Prodan said. “It was quite restricted at 50 per cent of capacity, but as 30 Year End 2020

Corcelettes Estate Winery

it turned out it was a quantity vs. quality issue, and the quality was up.”

buying more wine, it all netted out to be about the same.”

Prodan explains that most wineries went to a reservation system, giving them more time to spend with each customer, and that effort paid off.

In fact, some wineries found business improved in 2020, thanks largely to a combination of two factors. The first is that BC wine drinkers are loyal and very supportive of the local wine industry, and the second was an increase in local tourism that helped make up for the decline in international tourism.

“It gave people time to sit down with those guests and talk about the wine and the winery and that resulted in an increase in sales,” he said. “So, less people

in 2020 evident this year because there were far more local visitors to wineries this year, due to restrictions on travel due to Covid-19. “In the Okanagan Valley if you talk to tourism operators and hotel operators I think it was fairly busy,” said Prodan. “Because of Covid-19 and travel restrictions, people were less inclined to go very far, and so I think what we saw was a lot of people from the Lower Mainland planning their trip coming into the Okanagan. “They clearly replaced any foreign visits, even from Alberta if you want to call Alberta foreign … so we’re very fortunate.”

Photo by Wines of British Columbia,

By contrast, Vancouver and the Lower Mainland were harder hit in terms of overall tourism, but even there, wineries in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island got some benefit from having more people in the region unable to travel, and therefore looking for things to do close to home.

Michael Clark, co-owner and winemaker of Clos du Soleil in the Similkameen Valley, said those factors came into play for his business, with the result that the winery improved its revenues over last year. “Yes, Covid certainly was a challenge, but in fact our business was very strong this year,” Clark said. “Clos du Soleil has been lucky to win some good awards this year that helped spread the reputation of our wines but the main thing is that in BC

generally, and certainly for Clos du Soleil, we are blessed with very loyal customers, who have really stepped up to support us during what has been a crisis period for the world, so that’s been great for our business. “Despite the challenges, things are going well, but I don’t want to make it sound like Covid has made things easy.” Prodan says that loyalty was particularly

“I spoke to my tourism colleagues in Vancouver and in Victoria, the big centres, and they are down,” Prodan explained. “There’s no cruise traffic, conventions or meetings, so it was that idea of staycations that benefitted the Okanagan, and it’s true of the wineries in Kamloops, because they enjoyed a really strong year too. The Fraser Valley and the Island, they were also really taking advantage of the Staycation concept and people going out to visit their own wine region.” Clark agrees with that theory, saying his own winery experienced very strong sales at the farm gate and through the wine club, something he has heard from others as well. “Maybe if I was at a much larger winery my answer might be different,” Clark said. “Usually we get a lot of people here from the United States, but the offset of these travel restrictions is that people locally need things to do, and for us it more than made up for the reduction in travel from other countries or provinces. “We also had very strong demand from online and from our wine club, so overall we are up.” Year End 2020


Troy Osborne, the Director of Viticulture with the Arterra Group and a director on the BC Grapegrowers Association, agrees that 2020 was a case of wineries and grape growers triumphing over adversity, but adds, it wasn’t easy.

One of the problems faced by growers were the delays in getting foreign seasonal workers in from Mexico and other locations due to the Covid-19 related travel restrictions, but Osborne says that only caused some delay at the front end until the BC government and industry groups managed to come up with safety protocols. After that, the main concern wasn’t so much production, but safety for the workers. “There was a bit of a delay getting some of our folks in from Mexico, and of course, when they did get here they had to quarantine, so there were challenges there, but we pulled through and now we’re ready for it next year,” Osborne said. Osborne also says that, despite fears earlier in the year that Covid would dramatically affect grape growers throughout the province, for the most part the industry has done well this year, putting out roughly average production numbers but with very

Photo by Gary Symons

"It slowed us down until we got our policies and procedures in place, so it was a bit of a scramble at first, but once we got everything dialled in and made sure we stuck to our work pods … I wouldn’t say it was business as usual, but we are certainly coping and it hasn’t affected what we’re doing in the vineyard or even in the winery, so I feel we are on track,” said Osborne. “I would say it hasn’t affected us other than in having to get organized and work around it.”

Grape bin on the Naramata Bench.

high quality. Of course, much of that success had to do with the weather, as always. The early part of the growing season started out as a challenge, with a colder than normal spring and more precipitation, followed by a cooler summer. That, combined with the issues getting workers into the fields and the potential for lower sales to struggling wineries, had many growers concerned about their income this year. But Osborne says, like the Covid situation, the weather also ended up being less of a negative factor than expected.

2020 Wine Survey – We Asked & You Answered


he year 2020 will obviously be remembered first for the COVID-19 pandemic that tragically killed more than a million people, and devastated a variety of industries in Canada and throughout the world, but in the BC wine industry it will also be known as a year of triumph over tribulation. Just a few months ago the BC Wine Institute released a survey that painted a bleak picture of how COVID was affecting this year’s wine business, with one in 10 wineries saying they believed they could lose their business. But thanks to action by innovative wineries, by the BCWI and by both levels of government, wineries in BC have not only survived; they have thrived. In our annual Wine Survey, we asked and you answered tough questions on how the industry has responded to the pandemic, and the answers we got were inspirational. Rather than roll over and die, winemakers and owners fought back, embraced innovative solutions, and have turned out what many believe could be one of the province’s finest vintages. And this all happened as winemakers and viticulturalists dealt with a very difficult year, featuring a cold, wet spring; a lacklustre summer; thick smoke from the terrible fires in California, Oregon and Washington; and an almost complete lack of any international tourism. Here is the story of 2020, in your own words.

32 Year End 2020

Which grape varietals do you grow? 23%

Merlot, Pinot Noir


Cab Sauvignon, Chardonnay


Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris


Cab Franc, Gamay Noir, Riesling


Marechal Foch, Pinot Blanc, Muscat


Pinot Meunier

5% 3% 2%

Chasselas, Gruner Veltliner Optima, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Marsanne, Petite Verdot, Vidal. Albarino, Auxerrois Cayuga, Chenin Blanc, Dunkelfelder, Ehrenfelser, Gewürztraminer, Grenache, Madeleine X Sylvaner, Malbec, Mourvedre, Muscat Ottonel, Early Muscat, Muscat À Petit Grain, Orange Muscat, Ortega, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Schonburger, Siegfried, Siegerebbe, Tannat, Tempranillo, Verdelet, Zweigelt, Zinfandel.

“It was a bit of an odd year,” he admitted. “We had that slow start with a cold, wet spring, so there was a poor fruit set that had everyone quite worried, but that lower fruit yield in my opinion actually played in our favour as the season went on.”


Osborne says the summer was warm but not hot, but the unusually warm weeks from September all the way through October saved the season. Farmers had to do less thinning, and at the end of the year Osborne expects most growers will see higher yields and high quality, with little or no long-term impact from Covid-19 related labour shortages. In particular, Osborne expects the Valley’s Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cab Franc vintages will be extremely good this year, with pretty much all the white wines showing superior quality.


Clark says his experience at Clos du Soleil echoes what Osborne has said, with overall decent yields and higher than average quality.


How0 do your sales compare to previous years?

“The beginning of the season was slow to start, but that glorious Fall really allowed us to catch up,” he said. “The whites are all uniformly excellent, and for the reds, I really think this year we are producing an absolutely ideal Merlot.”

Shift from Wineshop sales to Online Sales. Loss of tasting room and hospitality sales.

The BCWI believes most wineries were able to make up for lost business and, like Clos du Soleil, some increased their business, but operating in a crisis has provided lessons to the entire industry, amid new challenges for 2021.

20% reduction due to restaurant sales.

More sales dollars per customer but down overall. Increase in visitors from BC regions.

For example, Prodan says all liquor sales increased in 2020, but while wineries did well in terms of revenue, their share of the overall market actually decreased.

We are 95% estate grown, so we sold out faster and will have a healthier financial year.

“Good news is that revenue from


Feel It Was A Good Year Overall

What is your most popular selling wine ?

What was your best producing varietal grown this year?

24% Pinot Gris

"It was a great year across all varieties ."


Pinot Noir


Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris



Pinot Noir Chasselas

6% Others

Alexandria, Muscat Blend, Bordeaux-style red blend, Gamay Noir, Red Blend, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah Cuvée Violette, White blend.

Albarino, Chasselas, Gruner Ventliner, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Verdelet

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winery visitations is up, and when you are buying directly from a winery, whether it’s onsite or online, they make the highest margin from those sales,” Prodan said. “But in a year when all liquor sales are up, our market share for VQA wine has slipped for the first time in years, plus, we are seeing people are trading down to less expensive wines and this is causing price pressure for BC wineries. “Hopefully this will correct itself, but this is a challenge we’re going to face in the coming year.” On the plus side, Prodan says wineries have shown themselves to be innovators who come up with solutions in the midst of a crisis, such as the massive shift to online and wine club sales. Co-owner and Head Winemaker Gavin Miller of Upper Bench Estate Winery says that was key to his company’s success this year. Photo by Gary Symons

“Unlike a lot of wineries here we’re open all year round,” Miller said. “So when lockdown happened it probably didn’t affect too many of the wineries until April or May, whereas it was big for us, so we really jumped on the online bandwagon very early, and we saw people take up on that like you wouldn’t believe. Grazing in the vineyard at St. Hubertus.

2020 Wine Survey – We Asked & You Answered Has 2020 overall been a good year for grape growing? The beautiful September, early October turned a possible bad vintage into what is looking to be an amazing vintage.

Season of contrasts; wet to start, patchy flowering, great September and into October then it all stopped... but great flavours will make great wines.

Renewed winter damage, wet spring, wet and cold flowering. Two heatwaves. Rainy harvest. Lighter tonnages than normal, and higher acidity on many varieties. It has been a challenging year for labour, weather, and life. The grape quality is good but harvest yields are down due to aggressive crop thinning due to early weather concerns. In this area we had a killing frost in January and lost a significant portion of our crop - Chardonnay hardest hit. 34 Year End 2020

Despite all the problems this year, has anything positive come out of this? Initiated an appointment system, and updated our point of sale technology, with excellent results.

This industry is resilient and knows how to deal with challenges.

More manageable and predictable days in the tasting room, an opportunity for more focused tasting experiences.

Online sales have greatly increased, partly due to the fact that we did not focus on it prior to Covid. This has been a big plus and should continue to be so going forward.

Yes it forced a slow down in lifestyle which was timely, however not being able to socially interact as per normal can get a tad depressing. It forced us to adjust our business model asap as wineshop and restaurants were no longer a sales channel.

“I would say we had the best February and March we’ve ever had.” While fewer tastings in summer hampered sales in July and August, Miller says constantly innovating and reaching out to the customer base means that revenue for the entire year roughly balanced out with 2019. Osborne agrees that while the Covid-19 pandemic was the central challenge for the year, the long-term impacts are not necessarily all bad. “Ultimately, some good stuff has come out of this as well,” said Osborne. “When you are forced to make changes you not only make do, but you find opportunities as well.” Photo by Wesbert Winery

He cited examples like having more people able to work mainly from home and more flexibility about work hours as two improvements he’s seen in the industry since the pandemic struck early this year. “For people who have kids, many were in that situation where you go to work and put in your eight hours, and that’s it,” he explained. “Covid has given us some flexibility and we’ve seen the world hasn’t fallen apart.”■

Dogs helping with the harvest at Wesbert Winery.

As 2020 comes to an end please let us know your thoughts; on the industry as a whole or your business in particular. What is working and/or what needs to change Wineries in the country need the ability to ship direct to consumer to any province - we need to continue to market buying local no matter whether it is food, veggies or wine .

Liquor laws need to change, especially with regards to direct shipping. The current laws are ridiculous.

More support from BC Liquor Board to put small wineries in their stores at a decent price not what is offered now. Put the hospitality pricing back to where it was.

I think as regards our own business, fine tune and adjust the sales for what is working now. As a whole there are many tiny start up wineries without the capital, vineyard or winery expertise. When you factor in their lack of economies of scale they all too often offer wine at inflated prices and the quality vs value doesn't equate. Wineries on Hwy 97 offering wine at $90 a case special or as part of a fruit stand belittles the efforts of people serious about making world class wine.

Overall we had a busy and successful season. We need more investment from the government in the small towns neighboring the wineries in order to be more attractive as a destination.

Refocusing on what the wine industry should be.

Appointments are awesome. Restaurant industry need to have more support so they can work better.

Continue to work together as we are all in it. Big guys don't forget about the small guys as they are equally important to the region and brand.

Year End 2020



Do you feel the BC wine industry can survive in the same form if tourism doesn't rebound? Will need to focus on online sales.

We need tourism to keep being strong. Canadians will be bored at some point so we need international tourism to kick in again.

Photo by Fielding Estate Winery

It is going to be tough. We will survive but in a lesser way. Local sales will have to pick up and we will need to increase online sales.

Photo by Gary Symons

Fielding Estate Winery in Beamsville, Ontario is now offering Outdoor Wine Dome experiences. "So far we have been very happy with the response. They are being reserved into the new year!" said Heidi Fielding

More options for those who visit in order to ensure that they feel safe enough to visit.

71% Photo by Wesbert Winery


Harvest at the Wesbert Winery

Tourism to our winery was up.

Businesses who were barely making it work will fail. The big guys will buy up even more wineries.

The crush at Hawkswood Wines.

Some wineries will not survive. Long term ability to have more than one tasting area will be important.

What problems did you face this year due to Covid- 19 ? 65% Staffing and hiring 59% Increased costs 41% Vineyard labour 65% Lost revenue 41% Supply chain problems

I believe the wine industry survived quite well with tourists once they opened. Changes to accommodate COVID visits this year may be the basis for positive changes for future years, attracting a different kind of tourist‌ ones who are actually interested in wine and the romance of it.

36 Year End 2020

24% Border closures 18% Quarantine 12% Other

Have you received any extra government funds related to COVID-19?


We took advantage of the $40,000 business loan, which if paid back is a $10,000 gift.

RECEIVED FUNDS What else should the government do?


Help develop the towns that link the wineries so they are more attractive to tourists.

Keep our extended patio licence permanently and keep helping restaurant folks so they can work and in return they can buy our wines.

Cut the red tape - open up all provinces for direct delivery. Photo by Monte Creek Winery

Advertise importance of supporting small business and buying local; allow the temporary tasting areas to become permanent.


More support in the BCLDB for BC for the long term. Pressure on Federal Government and Provinces to open borders for private shipping.

The crew at Monte Creek Winery.

Quit messing with taxes and improve the liquor laws. We don’t live in the Middle Ages anymore.

Have you made any long term changes to your business due to the pandemic? Shortened hours.

Most respondents did not make any long term changes.

Organizing how we manage the TFW program .

Photo by Wines of British Columbia,

Yes, much more focus on online sales and social media to deal directly with our customers. Also having our customers pre book a tasting experience was excellent for our staffing requirements and we intend to keep the practise going forward.

Changed our way of doing our tastings and had to invest in more materials and will invest more over the winter to make our space even better.

Year End 2020


O’Rourke Peak C By Michael Botner The next chapter of the Okanagan Valley’s climb to world class wine prominence is unfolding in Lake Country, the area practically at the northern periphery of the wine region. Not so quietly, but with little fanfare, O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars on Commonage Road is taking shape on the rocky, rugged, steep, south-west facing hillsides of Carrs Landing. Founder, developer and builder of the winery project, Edmonton businessman Dennis O’Rourke, soft pedals his success at “building roads for a living” in Alberta. “I am an expert at digging ditches,” he quips.

Hired by O’Rourke in 2013, New Zealander Adrian Baker, previously senior winemaker and cool climate specialist at Craggy Range winery in Hawke’s Bay, developed and carried out plans for selecting and planting the grape varieties. Baker knew it was the best possible land for growing cool climate varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As explained by O’Rourke, “the tougher the land, the 38 Year End 2020

The Next Okanagan Destination

O'Rourke Cellars has drilled and blasted 330m of wine caves into the bedrock of the granite hillside. Temperatures

Photo by Michael Botner

Like many Albertans, O’Rourke was drawn to the Okanagan as a home away from home. He still lives in the house built forty years ago on Juniper Cove lakefront land in Carrs Landing. The quest for property as the foundation for what he intends to become Lake Country’s preeminent wine estate began in 2009 with the purchase of the old Goldie Road market garden, a four-acre section of the historic Rainbow Ranche, just up the road from Juniper Cove. Several factors influenced O’Rourke’s decision to buy up these orchard blocks in Carrs Landing, consisting of 13 lots encompassing 130 acres, including a Timber Kings-inspired, five-bedroom, log home and guest house built in 2006. After the 2008-2009 recession, “land prices were in the doldrums and many of the lots were up for sale,” says O’Rourke. “I thought it would be better to invest in hillsides than banks.”

Winery construction continues on Commonage Rd.

Cellars Founder, developer and builder of the winery project, Dennis O’Rourke.

Photos contributed

Stephanie Stanley, O'Rourke's winemaker.

Winery in 2022

s in the caves at 10-12º C throughout the year are perfect for aging wine.

Tim Parsons, Vineyard Manager.

better the grapes.”

In 2012, O’Rourke rolled out ambitious plans to construct a large-scale winery on a rocky bluff just below Commonage Road overlooking Lake Okanagan. Most apparent from below is the skeleton of a massive amphitheatre. Not at all visible is an indoor theatre below. Even more extraordinary are 330m of wine caves drilled and blasted into the bedrock of the gran

Photo by Gary Symons

So far 104 acres have been planted: 100 in Carrs in two blocks, and a four-acre site on Goldie Road. Pinot Noir leads the way at one-third of the total, with the remainder consisting of Chardonnay (30%), Pinot Gris (20%), Riesling (11-12%), followed by plantings of Gewürtztraminer and Grüner Veltliner, as well as small blocks of Gamay Noir and Merlot. Using his expertise and graders, O’Rourke spared no effort to build solid roads on the steep slopes.

O'Rourkes's wine producing facility.

Year End 2020


ite hillside with access points from several different points of the winery. “Structural support is provided by 12-foot stabilizing rods drilled back into the rock, followed by spraying concrete to seal the surfaces,” says Stephanie Stanley, winemaker at O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars Goldie Rd. winery. “Temperatures in the caves at 10-12C throughout the year are perfect for aging wine,” she says. O’Rourke moved in crews and equipment from his Alberta operation and purchased a local batch plant to make concrete and cladding. He used rock crushers to transform larger rocks mined above the winery site into smaller material for making aggregate. With O’Rourke Family Vineyards on Commonage Road scheduled to open in 2022, an operating winery was required in short order to make wine from estate grown grapes and serve the public. Chase Wines opened in 2016 on Goldie Road, but was later renamed as O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars over a trade mark infringement complaint. It has been a crowd-pleasing endeavour, with a casual, year-round bistro, a bright, spacious cellar door and a wellequipped wine producing facility overlooking vineyards and Lake Okanagan. A graduate of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Program, Okanagan-native Stephanie Stanley stepped in as winemaker in 2017 after meeting Adrian Baker during a six-month stint working in New Zealand.

The view from the Garden Bistro.

With fruit from young vines, Stanley makes 12 different wines from all the major varieties grown on the estate. In particular, kudos go to these three wines: The 2017 aged Chardonnay is elegant and poised. Barrel-fermented and French oak aged, it shows a green apple, apricot, pineapple, vanilla and hazelnut nose with poised flavours suggesting green apple, squeezed lemon-lime and toast. The 2019 Grüner Veltliner takes its name from Austria’s most important grape variety. Made from estate grown grapes, it is brimming with aromas of white flowers. peppercorns and peaches. The almost creamy palate features pineapple, melon and gooseberry, hints of fresh herbs and white pepper, capped off by a hint of flinty minerality. The 2018 Pinot Noir highlights the enormous promise of this variety in Lake 40 Year End 2020

The tasting room.

The Garden Bistro charcuterie plate.

Country. Intensely rich and ripe, it delivers concentrated black cherry and plum fruit and notes of beet root, cigar box, cocoa and pepper, backed by smoky tannins.

Looking to the launch of the elite Commonage Rd. winery – O’Rourke Family Vineyards - in 2022, the focus will be on producing multiple, higher end tiers and small batches of single block, single clone wines. To that end, O’Rourke hired renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialist Nikki Callaway in 2019. A

Photos by Gary Symons

Soon to be released will be O’Rourke’s first sparkling wines under the Peak Cellars label, according to Stanley. Currently cellared in the caves on Commonage Rd., they include a traditional, champagne method bubbly made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and a crémant-style Riesling.

The pizza oven.

Year End 2020


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graduate of the Université de Bordeaux with a Diplôme National d’Oenologue (comparable to a Masters degree), Callaway has gained viticulture and winemaking experience in various regions of France including several appellations in Bordeaux. If all goes according to plan, Lake Country could very be the recipient of a subGI (Geographic Indicator) designation in the not-too-distant future. The idea took root after the arrival of Tim Parsons as Vineyard Manager at O’Rourke’s in 2017. A viticulturist in the Central Okanagan for almost 20 years, Parsons realized that “we have something special, unique soils and climate, in Lake Country. The area encompasses the west-facing slope from the top of the ridge to the lake and includes all the growers from a little past 50th Parallel Winery to just south of Gray Monk Winery."

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The soil profile features more granite and glacial till at higher elevations and more silty clay lower down with coarser soils in the middle. Parsons describes O’Rourke’s stretch of vineyards as a premier site with south-west-facing slopes and ample degree days, sunlight hours and frost-free days. Parsons found broad support for the sub-GI proposal through extensive consultation with growers and wineries in Lake Country. It has led to an intriguing twist that may add a vineyard bench over yonder in Oyama, on the eastern slopes of Wood Lake. Roger Wong, the winemaker at, and co-founder of, Intrigue Wines, also on Goldie Road, lives on a farm in Oyama with his family. Roger and wife, Gillian, planted a six-acre vineyard, named Two Wongs make a White, primarily with Riesling, in 2008. With adjoining neighbour’s vineyards, the total is now 20 acres. “The elevation of our vineyards is higher than those in Lake Country and the soil is well-drained and gravelly,” says Wong. “We have the same sun exposure and lake effect, although Wood Lake does freeze occasionally in winter for a month. The strong downward effect of air means very little disease pressure.” It is also well-suited to Riesling because the soil dries right out. “The ability to control moisture is the key to producing small berries with intense flavours in the skins,” he says. ■

42 Year End 2020


What Happens to Industry Post-Pandemic? were left without customers, such as BC wineries, micro breweries, and agri-tourism ventures. But even here, adjustments have started.

lower numbers in the sectors hit with reduced crops due to frost damage to buds (cherries) and difficulties in planting crops due to weather and early season labour availability (vegetable crops).

COVID-19. This will be a year that many wish to be done and never revisited. For horticulture crops, including tree fruits and grapes, the disruption of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) arrivals in March and the reduced numbers for the remainder of the year was only compounded by the lack of backpacker labourers, both from Canada and abroad. It is notable that the federal and provincial governments recognized early the need for food security and got the SAWP program back operating and eventually achieved 79.3% of the total workers in 2020 compared to 2019. In BC, that figure drops to 67.4%, but could be due to

Some of the business adjustments made during the pandemic will be permanent, while other changes will not permanently displace the old ways but a new mix of ways of doing business will emerge, and in many cases, businesses will simply revert to the old way of doing business.

Agriculture labour availability and making workplace adjustments for COVID-19 were the largest factors impacting the horticulture sector. Of course, this compounded financial trouble for already weakened balance sheets following years of poor returns (for apples) and following a year of difficult summer weather (cherries). Industry associations are actively lobbying for increased support from government, as has been the case for several years, but made more urgent by the pandemic impacts.

So, where will the trends be accelerated or new trends emerge? Will there be less business travel, now that we are getting used to meeting on video conference calls? Many people agree that in-person meetings will remain important, but the economics of traveling less and participating in video calls is appealing when budgets tighten. Not traveling also frees up a lot of time, though many business travellers work while on the airplane.

In other sectors, the impact of the pandemic was a sudden, severe jolt. The impact was especially acute in the hospitality and tourism industries, as regular tourism shut down. Movie theatres, cruises, hotels were closed and operations that rely on a flow of tourists

Local customers and tourists have assumed greater im-

portance. People cannot get away to their hot weather destinations in the winter, so they are switching to the warmer areas of Canada. It is now difficult to get a vacation stay in Osoyoos and Victoria; vacancy rates are approaching zero, compared to the usual ‘low season’ open rooms. People are focusing on outdoor activities more. Bicycle sales have boomed. Travel trailers are in tight supply not to go to Arizona, but to visit local provincial parks. Provincial Park reservations were booked online, but filled up in minutes. In fact, there was so much interest from local tourists that the reservation system crashed. Many farm offices are fairly isolated to start with, but the partial or full shut down of agriculture organization offices and the move to ‘virtual’ home offices happened quickly. Will we ever wholly go back to the five day a week office routine? Employers needed to move to a new way of trusting that their employees would do the work

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Year End 2020


at home. What we generally found was that employees were working too much and burning out! The work-life balance of working at home depends on having some time where personal time is not taken up or disrupted by work. Employers and employees are still learning, but seeing that there are benefits in some time to work-fromhome. In a sense, farmers already have this benefit. The farm office is usually located in the home, usually, and the farm operations are generally adjacent to the home. Finally, change is accelerating due to the pandemic. One area where changes will be lasting is in our short-term adjustments to labour constraints. A shortage of labour will lead growers to automate faster.


6 issues per year - including the Buyer’s Guide Next Edition - Pre Spring 2021

One example is the self-levelling picking platform that Asif Mohammad is testing in his orchard, assisted by an AgriInnovation grant. Asif feels that he is saving 20% of the labour to do the same work, and further, that he can continue to work in rainy weather as the platform gently handles the slippery fruit and workers seem to stay drier on the platform. Another example is the greater use of information technology to reduce unnecessary work. Why spray if the timing is not right or if weather is delaying maturity of insects and delaying stages of their growth? The DAS system of

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SIR therefore becomes more important as farms become more restricted in the availability of labour. Weather predictions become more important and the weather station network in the Okanagan takes on newfound value. The pandemic also shows the value of data, such as knowing where the COVID-19 outbreaks are located, tracing of possible infections, and knowing the variables that may cause faster transmission (cool, damp meat-packing plant environments, for example), and protecting vulnerable populations are all areas that we knew about, but where we are now having to implement good practices. Everyone is learning that science and technology are going to beat the pandemic, not immediately, but through diligent, disciplined and dedicated work. We have also learned to focus on the positives that we can achieve, and not dwell on or become mired in a very difficult economic situation. The truth is, we have learned to adapt. It will be a long time before we return to normalcy, and our future will definitely be different than our past. We will look back on the pandemic and be surprised at how much we, as an industry and society, were able to accelerate the pace of change as a matter of survival. We will all be stronger as a result. ■ Glen Lucas, General Manager, BC Fruit Growers’ Association

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How Do You Define What Is A Farm Worker? ing, ranching, orchard or agricultural operation and whose principal employment responsibilities consist of growing, raising, keeping, cultivating, propagating, harvesting or slaughtering the product of a farming, ranching, orchard or agricultural operation, clearing, draining, irrigating or cultivating land, operating or using farm machinery, equipment or materials for the purposes of paragraph (a) or (b).

may harm the farm worker’s health and safety.


arm workers are essential to the food supply chain and provide invaluable assistance to agricultural operations, but when it comes to employment legislation, farm workers are treated differently from non-farm workers. Our B.C. employment law sets out minimum standards for employees for hours of work, overtime wages and the statutory holiday entitlements. However, other than the standard against excessive hours, B.C. law exempts farm workers from these minimum standards. What does this mean in practice? Farm workers do not receive overtime or statutory holiday pay, but an employer cannot require or allow a farm worker to work excessive hours which

Sometimes disputes may arise between employers and workers regarding whether the worker is a “farm worker”; the employee will demand payment for overtime hours and holiday pay while the employer will take the contrary position. If the dispute cannot be resolved, the worker may make a complaint to the BC Employment Standards Branch which is a provincial government office that helps workers and employers resolve problems. Once the complaint is filed, it may proceed to an investigation, mediation or complaint hearing. The Director of Employment Standards (the “Director”) will issue a written decision which can be appealed to the Employment Standards Tribunal (the “Tribunal”).

In the Tribunal’s September 10, 2020 decision in Lazy F-D Ranches and Hay Sales Ltd. (Re), the Tribunal reviewed the Director’s determination that the employer failed to pay the worker overtime, statutory holiday pay, annual vacation pay and length of service compensation. The Director ordered the employer to pay over $50,000 plus interest to the worker. The sole issue before the Tribunal was whether the worker was a “farm worker."

The Tribunal released a recent decision which considers whether an employee is a “farm worker” which is defined in our law as:

The worker was employed as an Agricultural Equipment Technician on the employer’s farm under a Labour Market

a person employed in a farm-

Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) permit. The Tribunal confirmed the Director’s finding that although the employer was an agricultural operation, the worker was not a farm worker. As a Technician, the worker’s main tasks were to inspect, test, maintain and repair agricultural equipment which are not tasks included in the legal definition of “farm worker." The employer argued that the worker did perform farm work tasks related to the harvest and cultivation of land, but the Tribunal confirmed the Director’s finding that, when looking at the worker’s employment as a whole, the worker’s principal employment activities did not consist of “farm worker” tasks. The Tribunal further noted that because the worker worked under a LMIA, which permits an employer to hire a foreign worker as there is no Canadian worker or permanent resident available to do the job, “the federal government was satisfied no Canadian was available to perform

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Year End 2020


the work of an agricultural technician.” So, while there was evidence before the tribunal that the worker completed no or very little mechanic duties for large amounts of time (especially in the winter), the legal definition of a “farm worker” does not set out the amount of time that a worker must spend on “farm worker” tasks; “rather the key is what the Employee’s most important employment responsibilities were.” In this case, as the worker was hired because he had skills of a mechanic that no Canadian was available to perform (given the LMIA), the worker’s principal employment responsibilities were not farm worker tasks despite the amount of time the worker spent performing them. When determining if a worker is a “farm worker," a key take-away from this Tribunal case is that the principal employment duties of the worker is a key consideration, not the amount of time the worker spends doing those duties (even though the time spent doing those duties may be insignificant). The Tribunal will generally interpret our employment laws in a way which encourages employers to comply with the minimum employee requirements to protect to as many employees as possible. Take a look at your employment agreement with your employer or your worker(s) and compare the worker’s principal duties with the duties of a “farm worker” set out in the legislation. Do you think the worker is a “farm worker”? See your lawyer to discuss your employment agreement(s) and the minimum employment standards that apply. ■

January 28, 29 & 30 2021

Denese Espeut-Post is an Okanaganbased lawyer and owns Avery Law Office. Her primary areas of practice include wine and business law.

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Ten Tips to Look Better in Zoom Meetings light, you can’t rely on daylight alone. Do not place the light behind you. Sitting with your back to a window, you will be backlit and look like a dark shadow. Do not place a light directly above your head, as this will cast shadows and make your face look droopy and like you have dark circles under your eyes. Also, do not place the light in front of you; this can shine glaringly, with the light directly coming right at you like a spotlight.

for conferencing. Be 20-30 feet from your router for the best signal. Choose your Background


f there is one thing that has really disrupted 2020 it’s the use of video conferencing and meeting tools. We work, catch up with family and friends, and even date online, and even after many months, there is an unevenness to how well people perform in this space. Follow these 10 tips on how to give good Zoom … or Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc. Have a Good Connection If you don’t have a strong internet or Wi-Fi signal, the rest of the tips won’t matter. Make sure that your connection is reliable, and strong enough to stream efficiently. An internet connection of 1525 megabits per second is considered a good internet speed

You want people to focus on you, not what is behind you. You’ve seen the backgrounds; the bookshelf, the home office, the living room or dining room, and then there are virtual backgrounds you can upload and use that image to place you virtually anywhere in the world. Not every software allows a virtual background, and even though I love them, let’s acknowledge that uploaded backgrounds are kind of strange; you float over a background and sometimes the edges of the image cut out. Your background is a chance to incorporate your brand and signage /logos, but no matter what background you choose, make sure it is not too cluttered, so it does not compete with the main subject – you. Simple is best.

There are lots of fancy lights you can use, like a ring light, but a lamp will work fine if it has the right bulb and a shade. What you want to use is a bright, daylight bulb, LED preferred. You want direct but soft light. Place the light behind the camera so it casts the light at you from a proper distance. Make sure you have a shade, so the light is diffused and not shining harshly on you. What’s Your Angle?

Light Up Your Day

We have all seen the Instagrammers who hold the camera up above them and look

You want to be clearly visible, not in shadows, and while for sure daylight is the nicest

up into it to show off their selfie and look slimmer, but that is not the right angle for Zoom. You also don’t want your camera below you, so that everyone gets a view under your chin and up your nostrils. Ideally you want your camera lens to be slightly above eye level, but not higher than your head. So place the lens about even with the hairline. With this you are looking slightly up, and this will force you to sit up straight and have good posture too. You might need to put your laptop on a stand or some books to get the right height. Keep Your Distance Who has not done a Facetime with their parents and seen them hold the camera right up to their face, so you get an excellent view of their nose? That’s too close! Many webcams use wide angle lenses, so the closer you get, the more distorted you look. You want to keep your distance, but don’t go too far. You want to sit back far enough that there

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Year End 2020


is a little space above your head in the frame, and make sure your shoulders are in the frame; about chest height is the bottom of the frame. What to wear?

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Dress appropriate to your profession. Solids are a good plan. Stripes are not: they can sometimes rasterize on camera, which means for the people watching you it can look like the stripes are moving, and that can make people nauseous. No matter what you wear, make sure you are comfortable, because then you will be relaxed. (And as long and you follow the tip about distance, no one will know that you are wearing pyjama bottoms and slippers below your blouse). Can you hear me now?

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The people watching you speak will really appreciate good sound quality. Sometimes people cut out or sound like they are in an echo chamber or making the call from the ocean floor because they are sitting too far from their microphone. Soft furnishings in your room are preferred over hard surfaces that make the sound bounce around. You can use an external desk microphone or a lapel (lavalier) microphone, and in Zoom, you can go into general settings and adjust the audio, to pick your accessory mic instead of the mic. from the webcam. However I think that wearing earbuds with a built-in microphone gives excellent sound quality overall, and works well to eliminate the sounds of your kids in the

next room, or the garbage truck outside. Make Eye Contact Usually people look at themselves in their monitor when they talk. If you can, force yourself to look right into the camera lens when you talk, and smile; this will go a long way for your audience, who want to look at you and feel more connected to you. Do a Practice Run One thing that 2020 has done is make the world more forgiving. We all are starting to understand that the people we are communicating with are also at home with real lives and have real distractions... kids, pets, doorbells, etc. Despite all of this, you want to look as polished as you can. if you do a practice video you will see how you look, and ensure that your audience is seeing what you want them to see. Make the Most of It It seems like this will be the way to communicate for the foreseeable future, and while we wait until we can gather and meet in person again, let’s make the most of these online connections. ■ 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 or on social @townhallbrands


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48 Year End 2020


Sustainability Certification Launch Through the partnership, the BCWI will help SWBC promote the SWBC Certified program through multiple communication channels including newsletters, social media and educational webinars.

can now start the certification process and show consumers they are not only producing high-quality grapes, but also protecting the environment while being socially conscious.


he BC wine region is like no other. The passion and craftsmanship that goes into every bottle of BC wine is reflected in the hands, faces and spirit of the people who make our wine. Our growers take pride in sharing their wine, working hard to provide a world-class product, while being stewards of the land – preserving our pristine wine regions for future generations while ensuring continuous improvement for a bright and prosperous future. BC winemakers will now be able to showcase their wines as sustainably certified thanks to an industry-wide sustainability certification program launched Nov. 9, 2020, by Sustainable Winegrowing BC (SWBC), an ongoing program of The BC Wine Grape Council. Developed by volunteer SWBC committee members, representing all aspects of the BC wine industry, BC wineries

Since the release of the Wine BC 2030 Long-Term Strategic Plan in March 2019, the BC Wine Institute has focused on steady implementation and execution of the strategic recommendations laid out in the plan. One of the fundamental pillars of the plan focuses on advancing sustainability in BC’s wine industry and committing to an industry-wide sustainability standard. In collaboration with SWBC, the BC Wine Institute will support program goals and activities, by prioritizing communication and education to consumers, media and trade.

Sustainable practices are more than just environmentallyfriendly; they also integrate the protection of the environment, profitability and social values. The criteria to become a certified vineyard or winery are extremely comprehensive, including high standards for water conservation, ecological diversity, soil health, worker safety, social benefits and more. Some BC wineries have already begun the certification process making sustainable choices in their operations that include: • LEED certification • Drip irrigation • Composting and recycling to minimize waste • Preserving local ecosystems and wildlife habitats • Supporting local producers in the winery and at winery restaurants

“The BC Wine Institute shares the Sustainable Winegrowing BC goal of enhancing sustainability in British Columbia's wine industry,” says Miles Prodan, President and CEO, BC Wine Institute. “We look forward to working together with SWBC in promoting the program in recognition of sustainable grape growing and winery practices in British Columbia, and SWBC Certified wine products to trade and consumers.”

BC’s wine regions are well suited to sustainable farming thanks to a dry, sunny climate with low humidity and low rainfall, combined with the hot summers and cold winters. There are few pests and diseases to worry about and as a result more and more farmers and producers are following organic, biodynamic or SWBC guidelines. With current consumer trends showing a growing interest in sustainable practices and transparency in where and how the wine is grown and made, it’s only natural that the BC wine industry embrace the unique combination of geology, climate and geography that supports the province’s distinctive ecosystem and protect it for generations to come. We take pride in our unique wine regions and soon consumers will be able to see that reflected on bottles of BC wine marked ‘SWBC Certified’. ■ To learn more visit

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Year End 2020



Gavin Miller of Upper Bench Winery & Creamery The day that led Gavin Miller to a career as one of Canada’s top winemakers arrived almost literally like a ‘sign’ from above. “I’d emigrated to Canada in 1997 from the UK and soon got a job in the sign industry, having been a sales manager for a graphics company back in the UK,” Miller recalls. “But the Okanagan Valley wasn’t particularly healthy economically in the 1990s and the company had to close down.” It was a devastating thing to happen so soon after arriving in Canada for a new life, but the layoff led Miller in an entirely new direction, purely by chance. “My last client was actually Hillside Winery (in Naramata, near Penticton, BC), so I went to see this fella to tell him we couldn’t make their signs anymore,” Miller says. “Then the contractor there said, well, that means you haven’t got a job, right? So, then he said, are you able to give me a hand, and I said yes, so I started the next morning. “I started working at Hillside doing carpentry work, and gradually built that into working with the actual winemaking,” he added. “I always had an interest in wine, and I really lucked out with the people I’d met.” But those were still early days for the BC wine industry, and few wineries in those years stayed open all year, so like most people, Miller was laid off in the winter months. “I eventually got laid off from Hillside, so I went to school in Oliver to study viticulture, with the idea of becoming a salesman, because that’s what I’d done all my life and I thought of becoming an agent for a winery,” he explained. Miller studied during that year with Bill Eggert of Fairview Cellars in Oliver, and Miller says that experience turned his life in a new direction. “Bill was a very passionate man in many ways, and I guess his passion for wine rubbed off on me during the three or four months I spent learning to grow grapes, and I learned a lot from it. Halfway through the course (sales) was not what I wanted to do any more. I wanted to grow grapes and make wine myself.” But the transition to a career in winemaking was far from easy. “I spent a very challenging and low-paid four years learning how to become a winemaker,” Miller recalls. “I had a great opportunity, because the wine industry was in its infancy then, and I was lucky enough to be taken on as the assistant winemaker by Red Rooster and then Poplar Grove, and then eventually moved on to Painted Rock and was a winemaker there for four years. In fact, Miller had his hands in several South Okanagan wineries, including Lake Breeze and Hawthorne Vineyard (now See Ya Later Ranch). While he worked at Poplar Grove, Miller also worked with several wineries, working with a wide range of varietals. “We made a lot of wine for other people back then as a sort of custom crush,” Miller explains. “For example, we made what I 50 Year End 2020

Gavin Miller and Shana Miller of Upper Bench Winery & Creamery.

believe was Laughing Stock’s second vintage, we worked with Joie Farm and with Montague Cellars, and then in 2007 John Skinner came and asked us to make their first vintage at Painted Rock, so that year I made wines for both Poplar Grove and Painted Rock, and we ran two separate crews.” But Miller’s dream was to become a head winemaker, while his wife’s passion was making high-end artisanal cheese. Shana Miller was born in Nova Scotia and lived in the Eastern Townships of Quebec before arriving in Pentiction in 1995, where two things happened; she met and married Gavin, and she learned to make cheese from the original cheesemaker at Poplar Grove, Sandra Chalmers. And then fate played another part in their story, giving them both the chance they wanted. “This place, Upper Bench, was in receivership at the time, one of eight wineries that were overstretched and in receivership,” Miller remembers. “The short version of the story was we had very good partners, and so we went down to Vancouver, put a bid in, and won it by just a fraction. “Then we spent the next year renovating the winery and the house so we could live in it, bringing the vineyards back up to scratch, and since my wife makes cheese, we built a creamery on the end of the building, and then we opened in May of 2012.” Miller says, while he had to struggle through the early days, he loves just about everything about being a winemaker. “For me it’s about doing something that you love to do, it’s about the quality of life, and it’s to be proud of something that you produce and that makes people happy,” Miller says. “I’ve noticed you don’t often see people unhappy when they’re in buying wine, and if I can spread a little happiness through what I do, that makes my life even better. “Honestly, “it’s been a great ride.”■

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Profile for Orchard & Vine Magazine

Orchard and Vine Year End 2020  

Inside the Year End 2020 issue of Orchard & Vine Magazine we have our annual Fruit and Wine Readers' survey and our annual Year in Fruit and...

Orchard and Vine Year End 2020  

Inside the Year End 2020 issue of Orchard & Vine Magazine we have our annual Fruit and Wine Readers' survey and our annual Year in Fruit and...


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