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Opening their facility to help other wineries produce wine, and thus opening the door to wineries being able to exist without the capital cost of constructing a winery building, was a controversial step in the B.C. industry six years ago.

They provide all winery services at a single stop, from vineyard management to crushing grapes, to promotion of the finished product and distribution. (Coletta formed her company, Coletta Consultants in 1986, marketing B.C. wines.) The idea at OCP is to work with commercial wineries intending to sell their products, not with home or hobby winemakers, and it’s been a popular innovation, despite the heated discussion that ensued among some in the industry.

Although she admits there was “some grumbling behind our backs,” among colleagues in the wine industry, partly because of concerns about increased competition from those without a winery facility, she feels that’s died down now. “Competition is healthy. It makes us ‘up’ our game. Collectively, we make better wines, with fewer failures. We (as an industry) are small, but we make excellent wines. We’re only as strong as our weakest link, so it’s important that overall quality remain high,” she comments. Other winery owners have discovered that when new wineries pop up, it actually draws more to their winery, rather than dividing the pie, she noted.

And, they’re seeing other custom crush businesses cropping up, although usually it is larger wineries doing it in a small way, on the side, rather than building with that in mind as OCP did.

Of course, throughout the history of the industry in B.C., many wineries began by making use of a neighbouring, existing winery’s facilities, but it wasn’t formalized like it has been at the OCP. Dumayne, who is from New Zealand, is used to custom crush operations, because they’re common there.

Now, Coletta would like to see some other progressive steps taken to benefit the wine industry, including allowing ‘craft’ wineries to have secondary licensing facilities, rather like craft breweries.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2016 27

“Craft beer and distilling operations don’t have to be tied to the land like wineries do. They can have year-round customers where we only operate five or six months of the year because we’re on agricultural land.”

Instead, she would like it to be possible for seven or eight wineries to get together to locate production facilities and marketing in the downtown area of Summerland, for instance. “It would benefit us all.” Allowing such secondary licensing facilities was one of the

recommendations of John Yap in his Liquor Policy Review tabled April 1 last year, but Coletta isn’t feeling optimistic it will go through. She envisions that such facilities would only be for wineries designated a ‘craft’ winery, since commercial-license wineries can already do it. Products would have to be made entirely from B.C. grapes, she adds.

She also feels strongly that the VQA tasting panels have served their purpose and are no longer needed, now that the industry has grown up. This was one of the

recommendations of the B.C. Wine Appellation Task Group, which released its report last fall. Assurance of authenticity is needed, and it’s important that terms such as organic or natural on a label mean something definite, though, she adds.

Looking back over the 26 years she’s been involved in the industry, including nine years with the B.C. Wine Institute, she says that evolution in the quality of wine from B.C. is probably the biggest change. At the same time, she recalls that most wineries were ‘generalists,’ while today different wineries have become known for producing top merlots or rieslings.

“The industry has become terroir- driven,” she says with satisfaction.

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