By Roslyne Buchanan.

Prompts to buy locally have increased recently and it seems more people are walking the talk. Case in point when I go to house parties, I’ve noticed guests arriving with BC wine, spirits, craft beer and cider unless there’s another specific theme indicated by the hosts.

According to the BC Alliance for Manufacturing, food and beverage is the largest component of BC’s manufacturing industry making it important economically. The BC Alliance points out: “Not only is food and beverage consumption essential to human survival, it has also become a defining characteristic of our culture and a key component of our social interaction and entertainment.”

Food and Beverage Canada rolls the industry’s importance out further, stating: “Food and Beverage processors are the leading manufacturing employer in the country providing jobs for 250,000+ people at 11,000 manufacturing facilities. These businesses, located in urban centers and rural communities across the country, supply about 75% of all the processed food and drink consumed by Canadians. Domestic sales alone in 2017 were valued at $110 billion.”

Clearly, it is good news generally when we see signs that point to a thriving BC beverage industry. For me some of the indicators are the willingness within the industry to share knowledge, to collaborate on resources, to support research and education, and to recognize the significant milestones. For example:

Fortify Conference 2019

Building on its 2018 success in providing valuable resources to artisan fermenters and distillers in a one-day conference and tradeshow, Fortify 2019 was presented to a sold-out audience in November at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

At sold-out Fortify 2019, sessions get underway at Penticton Lakeside Resort. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Conference coordinators Sandra Oldfield, Elysian Projects, and Carolyn MacLaren, Business Alliance for Artisan Fermenters and Distillers were delighted to see new and repeat participants. Once again, Fortify featured practical keynote, panel and workshop presentations by industry professionals and experts. The tradeshow was expanded into a bright new space allowing delegates to devote additional time to it over coffee and lunch breaks.

Rita Kitsch, Kitsch Wines at Fortify 2019 panel with Sandra Oldfield, Joshua Vanderheide, Fieldhouse Brewing and Tom Krywko, Sea Cider. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Finance and operations, human resources, government/regulatory, sales and marketing, and workplace safety were returning themes. A new “lightning talk” component in which presenters offer valuable information in a fast-paced and timed slide show format was highly popular.

At Fortify 2019 networking event hosted by Cannery Brewing. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

“Small producers of wine, beer, cider, and spirits as well as larger producers confirmed to us that the collaboration and learning through combining different sectors is valuable,” said Oldfield. “At our post Social and Networking Event hosted at Cannery Brewery that evening, planning was already underway for Fortify November 24, 2020.”

Watch for details at

‘Final’ Judgment of BC

In what was presented as the final Judgment of BC, October 29, Wines of British Columbia (BCWI) was ecstatic to announce BC wineries took top prizes in four of five categories.

Final Judgment of BC is announced after full day of blind tasting. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Wine expert and special guest Steven Spurrier joined 32 top wine professionals from around the world and across Canada to participate in a full-day, blind tasting of 24 of BC’s celebrated grape varieties: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah against 16 international benchmarks.

BC firsts included Arrowleaf Cellars (Pinot Noir); Meyer Family Vineyards (Chardonnay) with 50th Parallel Estate Winery close second; CedarCreek Winery (Riesling) with St. Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate third; and Tightrope Winery (Syrah) with Le Vieux Pin Winery second and Stag’s Hollow Winery and Vineyard third.

After announcement in final Judgment of BC, judges including special guest and renowned wine expert Steven Spurrier (in red scarf) enthusiastic to taste winners again. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Hosted by BCWI and curated by Vancouver based wine expert DJ Kearney, the final Judgment of BC took place in the heart of wine country (Penticton). Inspired by the 1976 legendary Judgment of Paris, the inaugural Judgment of BC was hosted in 2015 by BCWI in honour of Steven Spurrier’s visit to British Columbia. Five years later, the BC wine industry was thrilled to welcome Steven Spurrier back to taste and evaluate world-class wines from the region.

“Since I was last in British Columbia in 2015, what I’m seeing is the increasing commitment, investment and quality. Seeing the vineyards showed me how extraordinary some of these sites. The purpose of terroir is to allow the grape variety to express itself and BC does that well. Whether it’s Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc, the vineyards are showing an undeniable expressiveness of grape variety and high quality, and in my view, that puts the area in a very strong league in the international market.” said world-renowned Spurrier of Decanter Magazine.

Media scrum with special guest and renowned wine expert Steven Spurrier after final Judgment of BC is announced. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

A blind tasting led by Kearney and conducted by Barb Philip MW, Rhys Pender MW, Michaela Morris, Kurtis Kolt, Shane Taylor, Christina Hartigan, Alistair Veen, Matt Landry and Sean Nelson chose the final 24 BC representatives for the Judgment out of 189 wines.

Said Kearney, “This was an experiment to see how BC wines are assessed in global context. The results make me personally very proud. BC grapegrowers and winemakers can be proud that the quality of wines is so high and that was a common theme as we went through flight by flight. Judges were astonished at how high the overall quality.

To view full results, go to

Wine Village

Unveiled November 18 at Slackwater Brewing in Penticton, the District Wine Village will be the first of its kind in Canada. With a goal to bring small-batch wine, beer, cider and spirit producers together, Penticton’s Greyback Construction will beak ground in spring 2020 at the north end of Oliver.

Attendees at media event learn about Greyback Construction’s District Wine Village. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Greyback has long been involved with many winery and brewery builds and envisioned this one-of-a-kind village where small, craft producers can start their own business, without the need to invest in a large-scale facility of their own. Additionally, the village would host events and culinary offerings to complement and augment it as a gateway to Canada’s Wine Capital.

Each of the 16 individual spaces for artisan producers offers a production facility with access to a shared crush pad and operational resources, and a built-in tasting room for direct-to-consumer sales. Plus, a 600-person entertainment centre for concerts and events and onsite culinary offerings will provide a distinct taste of the Okanagan.

Concept of Greyback Construction’s District Wine Village is unveiled. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

“Ultimately, this project is all about community,” remarks Greyback Construction General Manager Matt Kenyon. “Not only are we creating a diverse community for our resident wineries, cideries, breweries, distilleries and eateries, but we are really looking to be a significant economic driver for our local communities and support the future growth of wine and culinary tourism in the South Okanagan.”

Follow progress at

BC Beverage Technology Access Centre opens at Okanagan College Penticton

Open house was held at the BC Beverage Technology Access Centre (BCBTAC) headquartered at the Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. It will provide testing, business services and applied research assistance to the wine, beer, cider and spirits industries in the region and throughout BC.

Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan announced Penticton as one of 12 technology access centres and it was allocated $1.75 million in federal funding over five years.

At BC Beverage Technology Access Centre Open House, attendees toured lab facilities. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Daniel Bibby, co-owner of Nighthawk Vineyards noted, “For small wineries, the BCBTAC will be a valuable asset. Whether for consumer research or analytical services, having it in the region will be one of the ways that we advance the agendas of quality and reputation.”

Dr. Andrew Hay, the College’s Vice President Education noted a host of people – both at Okanagan College and externally – rallied around the idea and brought it to life. He gave special credit to Sandra Oldfield, Elysian Projects co-founder, Fortify Conference organizer, and former Tinhorn Creek Winery co-owner. She was a consultant to Okanagan College to help put the pieces together and to ensure links with the appropriate industry people.

Craft beer testing underway at BC Beverage Technology Access Centre. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

Okanagan College research revealed 19 craft cideries, 219 wineries, 16 craft distilleries, and 24 craft breweries within its catchment area with numbers growing weekly. The BCBTAC will provide analytical and sensory services, along with a full suite of business services to assist this vibrant and growing sector of the economy.

Learning about BC Beverage Technology Access Centre at Open House. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

On site, limited-scale facilities can render proof-of-concept production of wine, beer, cider, spirits and other beverages as well as labs (microbiology, chemistry, food quality and shelf-life, and sensory analysis and consumer testing) to undertake required research and analysis. BCBTAC will offer services to assist clients in understanding their current and potential markets and consumer preferences and provide operational and brand support.

Featured photo: Examining Greyback Construction’s District Wine Village more closely at the unveiling. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.

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Roslyne Buchanan (aka Roz) Roslyne Buchanan is a regular freelance contributor to food, travel, wine, home and lifestyle magazines. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine Trails, WestJet Magazine, OpenRoad Driver, Savour, Niche, Destinations Travel Magazine, My Van City, and Based in Penticton, she enjoys spectacular views of forests, vineyards, lakes, and hills beyond and regular visits from wildlife. Enchanted by the food and beverage industry and all things culinary as well as recreational pursuits such as travel, golfing, skiing, hiking, tennis and snorkeling. For her it’s the perfect balance to pursue her passion for writing with integrity and joy to share firsthand experiences. Most of her adventures are shared with her husband, Mark and when they’re not out exploring, they are managed by two felines Baja and Floyd. Find her personal blog at, follow her on twitter @RozDB and Facebook @roslynebuchanan


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