Okanagan Valley wine industry author John Schreiner has completed his final update to The Okanagan Tour Guide which was first published in 2007.
Schreiner, who has co-authored the book with Luke Whittall – a wine writer, podcaster and Okanagan College wine instructor – said this will be the sixth revision update of the winery guide.
This new edition includes bios on 240 valley wineries, with 40 new additions from the past five years, revised with updated maps, contact information, tasting room information and recommendations.
“The first book was just over 200 pages and this new edition is now 510 pages,” said Schreiner, reflecting the growth of the Okanagan wine industry over the past two decades.
As professional journalist, Schreiner said his literary interest in the wine industry was always a fun sidelight hobby for him, something he could do in his spare time, which has resulted in him writing 16 books about the wine industry.
He said having the opportunity to monitor the growth of the wine industry both in the Okanagan and across Canada, and meet the entrepreneurs behind it, has given him no shortage of material to write about.
“It has always been an interesting industry. COVID hasn’t allowed me to get to the Okanagan at all this year, but usually I get up there four or five times a year and have always enjoyed meeting the people operating the wineries,” said Schreiner, now 84, who resides in North Vancouver.
Schreiner said the intent of his book continues to serve as information source for winery visitors to read up on a particular winery before walking in the door.
“My thought was to have a book you could store in the glove compartment of your vehicle, to spend three minutes reading over the write-up about the winery you are about to visit to give you some knowledge about what that winery is all about to make the wine tasting and shopping experience more enjoyable,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the wine industry this year, but Schreiner explained he’s impressed by how winery operators have tried to adapt to the changing economic landscape.
The combination of alcohol consumption rising during the pandemic with wineries expanding online sales of their product have proven beneficial.
“I expected to see some wineries be in trouble but most of them seem to be getting through this period in relatively good shape,” Schreiner said.
“The concern that remains, though, is if a lot of restaurants end up closing because of the pandemic, that is going to hurt winery sales. If a lot of restaurants don’t survive, that impacts on the wine distribution chain.”
According to Schreiner, the wine industry in B.C. has faced roadblocks since it began in the 1970s, and COVID is just another one he feels confident the industry will overcome.
“I remember back at the start where wineries were not allowed to have tasting rooms, were not allowed to have credit card sales when that was a new thing in the ’70s, were not allowed to have seating in tasting rooms…it is an industry that has and continues to evolve,” he said.