When 'OOPS' is a really good thing

Oops, a word to signify a mistake, a mess up, something gone awry, but for one East Kelowna winery it was the best mistake they've ever made.

At Vibrant Vine's Winery, an upside down label on all their bottles filled with their 'not as good' white wine blend has just been named the best white wine in the world, the whole world, and it was just an oops.

“The wine sold five times what anything else sold last summer and all customers did tell us what a wonderful wine it was, but it was our blend, and I didn’t think a blend could possibly win a big international competition,” shared Winery Co-owner Wyn Lewis when he spoke to Castanet.

So how did the wine 'OOPS' come to fruition?

His wife and he were headed south for their annual winter vacation. They said goodbye and left their capable assistant Jasmine Branderhorst with the task of shrink-wrapping about 16,000 bottles while they were gone.

“She put a label on upside down by mistake and thought 'hmm I like that I think I will do a few more', so she did a few more and then she said to herself , 'hmm it looks much better upside down I like that', and so she carried on,” laughs Lewis.

Owners Wyn and Marion Lewis then arrived home two weeks later from their lovely vacation to find 8,000 bottles labeled upside down.

“I yelled, oh my god Jasmine it is upside down, expletive expletive, what the heck have you done?”

Lewis says Jasmine was then crestfallen, thinking she had done something wonderful, but here was her boss saying that it was terrible.

With no other choice but to use the upside down bottles they chose to fill them with their blend and not their 'super duper reserve,' laughs Lewis, and in light of the event they named it OOPS.

“We put it out for sale last May and it started to sell like hotcakes and everyone wanted to buy it!” exclaims Lewis.

He shares that it got to the point where he started to realize it was the best white wine they had and that he knew after tasting their entire selection visitors to the winery would buy OOPS at the end of the day.

“I would put a bottle of OOPS in a brown paper bag before the visitors started the tasting and I would say to them this is the wine you are going to buy,” laughs Lewis.

“Then we would go through the tasting and I would tell them the exquisite details of each of our wonderful wines and then at the end they would say yup I'll take a case of the OOPS, so we knew we had something special.”

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it could be the number one wine in the world.”

And what else is unique in this situation is that the Lewises didn't even enter the contest or know their wine was being considered.

In collaboration with TricorBraun, The Vibrant Vine’s supplier of glass bottles, the winery participated in the 2013 World Beverage Competition “Packaging of the Year Awards” to win a Silver medal for their spectacular Chardonnay label, which they knew.

But what they didn't know was TricorBraun put their wine in the mix of 10,000 other wines vying for the prize.

"Then they received an email at the end of December that we had won the packaging award again and about how wonderful it was and how wonderful their product (the glass bottles) is,” shares Lewis who says the email was clearly from the packaging perspective and not the wine.

“Then at the last line of the email...oh by the way, well we were there our agent entered your wine into the world wine competition and I thought you might want to know that you have won the best white wine in the world,” laughs Lewis. “As if it was no big deal!”

He read it over again and again and called the packaging company.

“I called them and they said well what’s important to us is that you won the packaging prize and I was just like, have you any idea what it means to win best white wine in the world?!”

After taking a few breaths, he and his wife found the contacts for the 2014 World Beverage Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, to confirm the unbelievable news.

“We got ahold of Geneva and they said yes indeed out of the 10,000 wines you came first, you are the first Canadian winery ever to win a medal at the competition…and if I were you I would hire a PR department because this is very, very big news…have you seen Bottle Shock?!” chuckles Lewis.

Bottle Shock is a 2008 movie based on the 1976 wine competition termed the "Judgment of Paris", when California wine first ever defeated French wine in a blind taste test basically exploding the wine industry in California.

“I laughed yes I have seen Bottle Shock, but this is a little tiny family owned winery in Kelowna, are you pulling my leg? I just couldn’t believe it,” adds Lewis.

Next thing you know wine writers from all over the world are calling them for interviews and his 'little family winery' has international acclaim.

So what's the next step for them?

“I am heading to the City of Kelowna to get the permit to double the size of the winery and then we are going to do a whole load of stuff that this has given us the confidence to do,” shares Lewis.

“Plus the recent changes in the liquor laws has made it a lot easier for us to do some of things that we wanted to do like a picnic area that is a decent size and things like that.”

Now getting your hands on a bottle of this international acclaimed OOPS of a wine is going to be hard as they are entirely sold out in store. But, for this weekend only as a celebration for the vineyard and a thank you to the locals who support them they are releasing a few extra bottles of OOPS for sale.

“We had not planned on doing this, but we are going to open this weekend Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. just for locals who want to buy some, we have a little stock left, it will be a bit of a celebration!,” shares Lewis.

As for the 2014 vintage ... how does 'WOOPS' sound? A name change to signify a little bit a woo-who and to recognize the recent success of the 2013 OOPS label.



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