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Prunings


Jeet Dukhia went head-to-head for the presidency of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, and it was the third time in a row that Steele prevailed.


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Nearly 200 members of the association, which has about 500 members, made their way to Kelowna for the vote at the 127th annual BCFGA convention in late January. They also returned vice- president Pinder Dhaliwal to his position, by acclamation. BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas promised delegates he would bring in a proposal for a multi-year term for president to provide stability for the organization going forward. Also elected by acclamation were: Ravinder Bains, Deep Brar and Peter Simonsen from the south; Surjit Nagra, Sukhdev Goraya and Tony Nijjar from the north. In his pre-election speech Steele promised growers he would work together with all sectors in the industry for the benefit of growers, and offered an optimistic vision of the industry’s future. Optimism, he said, has a tendency to bring about ‘good things.’ He also said he is working on improvements to the production insurance program to protect cherry growers better and he is working on permitting bare ground to be included in the government’s replant program... The new board of directors for the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society took up their positions in the new year. Bruce Hibbard of Hester Creek Estate Winery is president, while marketing chair is Christa-Lee McWatters Bond of Time Estate Winery and Evolve Cellars and Sally Sharpe of Constellation Brands is secretary. Membership chair is Roger Wong of Gray Monk Estate Winery and Intrigue Wines, signature events co- chairs are Carolyn Nixon of Nixon Hospitality Group and Patti Ogden-Grady of Okanagan Wine Country Tours, Julian Scholefield of Okanagan Crush Pad is judging chair and Jamie Moore of the Hooded Merganser is finance chair. The other board members are Annika Betts of Monte Creek Ranch Winery, Luke Whittall of


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t was the fourth time in four years that Kelowna orchardist Fred Steele and Vernon grower


Clos Du Soleil Winery and Andy Gebert of St. Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery. All are new to the board. Ex officio members are Geoff Barlow of Container World and Angela Brown of Valley First. From its founding in 1980, the society has grown from an initial intent to develop a tourism event around the young industry and the few wineries that existed at the time; to production of four annual wine festivals that have become some of the top-ranked tourism attractions globally...


Despite some difficulties in the Asian market last year, B.C. cherry exports increased by 70 per cent in 2015 over 2014, and that was 56 per cent higher than the previous year. Exports increased to 13,600 metric tonnes, with a value of $91.7 million. In a recent news release, provincial agriculture minister Norm Letnick noted that the dramatic increases are largely due to the successful joint effort by provincial and federal government and the B.C. Cherry Association to gain access to the huge China market for local cherries. “Focusing on high-value B.C. products like late-season cherries is key to growing the B.C.


government’s agrifood sector to a $15 billion-a-year industry by 2020. The export value of fresh, sweet cherries to China has more than doubled from 2014 to 2015, from $9.9 million to $24 million, he said. Those figures include a rise in sour cherry exports, from $2.7 million in 2014 to $11.2 million in 2015. Letnick said plans are to build on this, by exploring new opportunities with Pacific Rim countries who recently signed the Trans Pacific Partnership. As well, the BCCA sent representatives to Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Germany this


February to promote B.C. cherries to global brokers... The B.C. Wine Institute has announced that a record has been set for B.C. VQA wine sales, up 8.96 per cent in 2015 from 2014, with 30 per cent sold direct from the cellar door. Visitors to B.C. in the first eight months of 2015 were also higher than ever before with an increase of 7.1 per cent from the previous year, according to Statistics Canada. Of 320 wineries in the province, 275 include wine tourism, from tastings to on-site restaurants and shops, wine and food pairing experiences, to cooking classes, vineyard tours, concerts and accommodations. As well, the BCWI reports that emerging wine regions have become more popular travel destinations, including the Kamloops Wine Trail, where one winery reported an increase of 73 per cent in July’s tasting room sales over the previous year. There are now more than 43 restaurants at B.C. wineries — so more than 20 per cent of wineries are offering a variety of food to go with the wine experience...


Kate Durisek was recently appointed executive-director of the B.C. Wine Grape Council. She will focus on communications, strategic program delivery and building membership value. She is a certified project management professional and has been in marketing and communications in the wine industry for the past decade. Louise Corbeil, who was the BCWGC administrative officer for 16 years, has now taken over from Connie Bielert at the B.C. Grape Growers’ Association, as administrative officer. Connie is retiring after being with the grower association for 35 years...


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British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2016


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