SIGNS POINT TO THRIVING BC BEVERAGE INDUSTRY
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.
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.
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.
“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 fortifyconference.ca
‘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.
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.
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.
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 winebc.com
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.
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.
“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 districtwinevillage.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.