Corks have been popped and new vintages of white and rosé varietals have been unveiled for the 2018 Okanagan-Similkameen wine season.
While tourists and locals alike race to their favourite wineries to get their hands on bottles, seldom thought about is what happens in the time between the planting grape vines and bottling wines.
Many vintners in the Okanagan-Similkameen Valley are using alternative innovations that help with production and allow them stand out from the crowd of 262 wineries. These unique ways of running their businesses are more of a belief system than just a way to turn a profit.
“Nature is so beautiful, so complex and it’s a mystery. I don’t think that we truly understand everything that goes on but I think we have some hints about it,” Ezra Cipes, C.E.O. of Summerhill Pyramid Winery said.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery is the most visited winery in Kelowna. It’s also known for its pyramid at the entrance of the tasting room and for a nature-based focus in running the property.
Each of our wineries is focused on sustainability. @summerhillwine has long been a leader in this regard as Canada’s largest certified organic winery, and BC's first Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard. Through our group we will continue to explore ways of making our operations more sustainable in pursuit of creating #TrulyOkanagan wines.
Biodynamics and permaculture specialist Gabe Cipes uses a pre-Industrial Revolution technique developed by the Rosicrucians for the property’s compost, where the compost is layered with leaves to create an ecosystem within itself.
Oregano lines the rows of the vineyard as an organic way to ward off any pests that are looking for a snack. Stepping through the vineyard calms the soul, everything in this business is done with care.
The newest addition to the winery’s property are chickens that offer fresh eggs and contribute to the natural cycle of life that the Cipes family cherishes.
Okanagan Crush Pad
When the Okanagan Crush Pad Winery began, Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie began planting their vineyard in 2006 the traditional way because they were told that an organic vineyard was too difficult and to not waste their time.
Four years later they hired Alberto Antonini as their winemaker and their dreams of an organic winery became within reach.
“He told us, ‘you do not own this land, you are just a caretaker of it for a short piece of history and it’s our responsibility to leave it better than we found it and to not deplete the land.’ It changed my whole perspective,” Coletta said. “When you pump artificial fertilizer into the land it does not allow your plants to live.”
This new perspective of seeing the land as infinite, something that will be passed down the chain, and to future generations of her family really stuck with her. Okanagan Crush Pad Winery now has evolved into a multi-location diverse ecosystem, where sheep and chickens are hired help for pest control and as lawn mowers.
The oldest continuously producing vineyard in B.C., Tantalus Vineyards, was established in 1927. Its focus is not only having organic wine but also sustainability in operations. Tantalus became B.C.’s first LEED-Certified Winery, meaning it was important for them to build a building that was energy efficient from the ground up.
“Why not?” David Paterson, general manager and wine maker said. “The building materials and paint costs more, but we think it was well worth it….We made the decision for overall sustainability and looked at it as a farm, where does it all come from and took that same ethos to go the extra mile and ensure we hand an energy efficient building.”
Tantalus also hosts a 10-acre forest in the middle of the property that is home to a diverse ecosystem full of fauna and flora that add to the culture of the winery.
“Our entire ecosystem is really important to us, instead of focusing on a mono-culture,” Paterson said.
As technology advances in wineries, solar energy is creating a beaming impression on several winery owners.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in Oliver has become a leader in solar power energy efficiency, installing their first solar panels in 2006 and is forecasted to produce 263,000 killowat-hours per year which is enough to power twenty-four houses. The winery also has two Net-Zero buildings and uses an underground cellar to keep the wine cool instead of air conditioning.
“It’s a part of our overall philosophy, it has been that way since the beginning since the day we started,” Jim Wyse, founder and proprietor of Burrowing Owl Estate Winery said.
Now they have expanded their energy efficiency by installing a solar panel covered parking shelter, and eight new electric vehicle charging stations that showcase the green philosophy of the winery.
When asked if he hopes other wineries will be inspired by Burrowing Owl’s 468 photovoltaic solar panels Wyse says, “You can’t save the planet alone.”
Tony Holler, owner of Poplar Grove winery in Penticton was inspired by the Wyse’s energy efficiency is only one of the Okanagan-Similkameen wineries that have followed suit.
“We live in the Okanagan Valley where there is a ton of sunshine so I still can’t believe that the whole valley isn’t run by solar power,” Holler said.
The winery is now taking their solar powered initiatives one step further and is by installing a patio roof made of translucent solar panels so customers can sit and enjoy the sunshine without frying to an over easy while enjoying a glass of wine in the Okanagan sunshine. The roof itself is a $20,000 investment that furthers the energy efficient initiative the winery has taken.
Join us for a sip of our current portfolio and savour the view of Penticton from one of our tasting pods. We are open daily 10am – 5pm, stop by for a visit today! . . . . . #wine #winery #bcwine #winetasting #britishcolumbia #penticton #naramata #okanagan #okanaganvalley #beautifulbritishcolumbia #tasting #views
The Okanagan-Similkameen has tangible magic and wineries that inspire tourists to slow down and take their time to experience it for themselves with a glass pressed from their grapes. These wineries work hard behind the scenes of the tasting room, not only to create great wine, but to ensure that the magic of the Okanagan is preserved for generations to come.
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