He was among the first to use
vineyard practices such as less water, leaf removal and biodynamic compost as mulch.
“I originally kept them in confidence, but they’re pretty well out there now.” Eggert has contributed to the success of many in the wine industry through courses he taught at Okanagan College. John Weber, who with his wife
Virginia owns Orofino Winery in Cawston, clearly remembers the first thing Eggert told students in the 2002 viticulture.
“If you are thinking of starting a winery, you’re in the wrong class. You should be in the wine marketing program because you can grow the best grapes and make the best wine, but if you don’t know how to sell it you are screwed.”
Later, Weber worked for a short period at Fairview Cellars because he wanted “just to hang out with Bill,” knowing he would get straight answers to his questions.
Eggert did not predict the explosion in the Okanagan industry in which he’s played a role, but in retrospect he’s not surprised it happened. However, he doesn’t see room for any major future expansion.
“You’d have to wipe out the tree fruit industry to double that number and I don’t think that is a good idea. I’m a strong believer in diversity and balance.”
Looking to the future, Eggert sees a shift in focus of the people entering the industry and an increase in amalgamations and corporate partnerships, often associated with foreign investors.
“Making a profit isn’t necessarily their first priority. Some people have already made their money and are drawn to the lifestyle,” he said. Also, Canada is a safe haven for offshore money.
“We have a stable government, an educated workforce and a strong judiciary — a good place for whoever wants to get money out of their currency. This isn’t the first time this has happened,” he said. In Eggert’s opinion the major challenges facing the wine industry are the prohibitive laws around alcohol distribution and not having a workforce of suitable size and motivation. Reflecting on his career, Eggert said, “My greatest satisfaction is seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they taste my wine.”
22 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall-Winter 2017 TRADEX
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