Future competitions should have categories to match the spectrum of types of fruit wines, ranging from sweet dessert wines to dry dinner and sparkling wines. Regarding the VQA designation,
Harker told the audience that when the program was started approximately 15 years ago the quality of fruit wines wasn’t what it is today.
“If paneled today the majority of fruit wines would pass,” she said.
Networking is essential for success in marketing fruits wines.
Sometimes contacts are made in unexpected places such as a chance contact through Anna’s son’s soccer activities that led to Silver Sage’s blueberry ice wine being imported to Japan and subsequently to Korea and Thailand.
Regional marketing through the Naramata Bench Winery Association has been helpful to Elephant Island. Wines produced in the Similkameen Valley are also marketed on a regional basis, according to Harker, who is the current president of the Similkameen Wineries Association.
“We focus on marketing, take our wines on the road and try to get them in the hands of customers as much as possible,” Halladay said.
Due to the limited experience most people have had with fruit wines, there is no taste fee charged for Elephant Island wines.
“Sampling is our best investment. It gives people the opportunity to discover fruit wines,” Miranda said.
Fruit wineries have an advantage over grape wineries, according to Harker, because the fruit can be frozen and processed into wine during the winter, and this means savings in time, space and equipment.
To help minimize capital investment Elephant Island partners with neighbouring grape wineries in purchasing and using equipment. Of the wineries and cidery represented at the workshop, Silver Sage has been in operation the longest.
In 1996, Victor and Anna Manola, Romanian immigrants with
backgrounds in wine making, purchased and cleared 25 acres of land. Starting as a fruit winery, Silver Sage currently produces red and white grape wines and fruit wines, some of which are mixed with grapes.
Following the tragic death of Victor in 2002, Anna has continued to operate
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Serving the Wine, Table Grape and Raisin Industries British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall 2011 21
the business. The Halladays founded Elephant Island in 1999 in partnership with Miranda’s grandmother, Catherine Wisnicki, who with her husband, Paul, owned the Naramata orchard. Paul, a dedicated recreational wine maker, believed there was a market for well-crafted fruit wines made from Okanagan fruit.
Raven Ridge produced its first ciders in 2002 and at its peak offered six varieties.
Due to challenges unrelated to the
popularity of her product, Bullock is reducing her Canadian operations and looking toward expanding into the U.S. Opened in 2008, Rustic Roots is an expansion of Bruce and Kathy Harker’s organic farming activities to accommodate all five of their children who wanted to return to the farm. Sara and husband Troy are in charge of the winery, while others are involved in the retail store and wholesale section. More recently Barta founded Meadow Vista Honey Wines because she wanted a special niche in the wine industry.
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