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Between the Vines

Strength in numbers

Eleven Summerland-area wineries see the financial and promotional value of joining forces for a special route, as others in the region have done.

By Judie Steeves L

ike the 15 wineries that joined together to form the Naramata Bench Wineries, Summerland wineries last year decided it made sense to promote themselves as a special wine route called Bottleneck Drive. Jack Fraser of Thornhaven says there are 11 wineries involved so far, and he admitted they modelled it after the Naramata Bench example. There are 15 wineries involved in a joint promotional venture on the bench. (See

“This way we can get 10 times the exposure in advertising for the cost of a single ad I could put in myself,” commented Fraser.

So, membership has not been a hard sell. Every winery in the Summerland area has joined in, and the first ones visitors would pass are actually right along Highway 97, before the wine route begins to be evident. The highways ministry controls and pays for standard wine route signage along the highway, so Bottleneck Drive signs couldn’t be put up the until the standard highway signs indicated visitors should turn off the highway for wineries.

Once off the highway, the Municipality of Summerland put up the Bottleneck Drive signs along the route. The group of wineries paid for them, about $250 each, and there are 15, said Fraser.

Three of the member wineries are located right on the highway where they have good exposure anyway. One little knot that needed untangling was the municipality normally will only direct people in one way, while Bottleneck Drive is a circle route, so the group wanted to direct people both ways along it. Fraser says eventually they did manage to persuade the municipality to permit signs both ways along the route. The first signs went up last fall.

“Signage was a top priority for us, but we had to go through a lot of hoops,” he commented.

“This makes Summerland a destination. There are B&Bs and restaurants and other attractions, so people could make it a weekend and visit several each day, without even leaving town.”

“People travelling by probably don’t even realize how 24

large Summerland is. We’re trying to get it on people’s maps. It’s better for all Summerland businesses,” he added. In doing research for the project, they found this type of promotion has a defined spin-off benefit to the community, with each tourist dollar spent on a winery visit resulting in dollars spent elsewhere in the community. They only got together to begin the project two years ago, and Fraser said they’ve found it has made a really big difference in those first couple of years, even without signs up.

Not only do the wineries advertise together, they also have a website,

Just because they decided to form a group and a special wine route, the publicity for the new route through stories in newspapers and magazines was a big help in letting people know about the route’s existence.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2010


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