OKANAGAN OUTLOOK 2011 — 28 Wineries Enjoying Rapid Growth
It’s been a busy year for Dirty Laundry Vineyard in Summerland.
Dirty Laundry is one of those South Okanagan wineries that has witnessed ex- plosive growth since changing its name in 2006.
“In four short years we basically have
grown 600 per cent,” said sales and market- ing manager and viticulturist Judi Skinner.
The winery unveiled a much larger wine shop and expanded patio this year.
“All of the owners decided to put money into the wine shop to expand it because it was small and it was always packed and we wanted to really keep the ambience so we basically did a $2-million-plus renovation,” said Skinner.
Parking was also added and includes an area capable of accommodating up to three tour buses.
Ron Cannan, MP Kelowna - Lake Country
114-1835 Gordon Drive,
Capri Mall, Kelowna, BC, V1Y 3H4 (250)-470-5075 www.cannan.ca email@example.com
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Dan Albas, MP Okanagan- Coquihalla
Suite 202-301 Main St.
Penticton, BC, V2A 5B7 250-770-4480
In order to complete the renovations, the wine shop was closed from January until June 1. Skinner estimated the new one is about 1,500-square feet, about three times the size of the previous shop.
Offices were relocated upstairs and an
events room was added, as well as a new storage building capable of housing up to 20,000 cases of wine.
Production this season was 11,400 cases, which was up about 50 per cent from the pre- vious year.However, Skinner said production still needs to increase to meet demand.
“Our sales this year compared to last year
were right off the bar graph,” she said, noting this year some of its wines were sold out by June.
Being associated with Bottleneck Drive, which consists of a group of wineries in the Summerland area, has boosted business for all of them, she said.
“Winemaking and that whole process is
very serious, and we have award-winning wines, but we also have great staff. It’s the ambience of the whole place . . .we’re family friendly and we’re wheelchair accessible now. Our whole thing is to educate people and not make them feel stupid,” said Skinner.
The winery’s name trades on the Summerland story of a 19th-century Chinese laundry that fronted for a brothel. Several of Dirty Laundry’s wines bear names that play on words relating to the house of ill repute.
“People, they love our brattish attitude, I guess, and the clothespins (which everyone visiting the winery will receive) have really helped,” said Skinner.
The winery recently bottled a new product,
a port, and Skinner said it has plans for a second-stage expansion in the future.
South of Oliver at Hester Creek Estate Winery, it’s a similar story that began a few years ago but began with a goal of providing visitors with an all-round wine experience.
Rob Summers, winemaker for the winery, said activities began in 2007 when it opened six villas. Since then, the improvements have included construction of a new winery and an onsite restaurant, Terrafina.
Extensive work was also done in the vine-
yards to improve its end product. That includ- ed using a drip-irrigation system that utilizes less water and can water specific vines.Th
e winery uses about 70 per cent less water than previously, said Summers.
The winery and tasting area were complet- ed in 2009. It also features a guest centre along with a demonstration kitchen.
“We bring chefs in, celebrity chefs to do dinners.We’ve done 12 this year so far,” he said.
When the winery was completed the old tasting room was transformed into the 45- seat restaurant.Terrafina focuses on rustic Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and opened this year.
Summer said Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery had already done their own improvements by adding restaurants and the winery’s owners wanted to do something similar.
“We were trying to develop a point of desti- nation for people so when they come to wine country it feels like wine country,” he said. “It’s a real special experience.”
He’s heard some visitors comment on the South Okanagan being the most beautiful wine region they’ve visited.
“For us, that’s very important.”
The villas have helped attracted a different clientele and by extending the hours at Terrafina, it’s had a positive effect on the wine shop.
“We’re just seeing a lot more traffic,” he said.
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