A toast to their success
Oct 2, 2013 / 2:50 pm
It started as a small weekend festival 33 years ago.
Today, it has spawned its own industry.
The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, which kicks off Thursday with the BC Wine Awards Reception at the Laurel Packinghouse, has grown to 10 days and more than 110 events.
Over the last 33 years it has also branched out to include four other events under the Okanagan Wine Festivals umbrella.
"When we first started this business and had this vision, we didn't have a Spring Wine Festival, " says Okanagan Wine Festivals' GM, Blair Baldwin.
"We then decided we wanted to create something unique in the winter that wasn't based in the valley. Now we have a 17 year relationship with Sun Peaks Ski Resort for the Winter Okanagan Wine Festival."
This past summer, two new events were added to the calendar including the Mile High Wine event at Silver Star and Viva Las Pride to kick off the Pride Festival.
"We are reaching out to ensure those signature events and the three festivals do their job to promote wine tourism."
The result has been a multi-million dollar benefit to not only just the wineries, but the Okanagan as a whole.
A research report released last week by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, the British Columbia Wine Institute, and the Okanagan School of Business at Okanagan College, found wine festivals generate $87 million in direct annual economic impact and $52 million in indirect economic impact.
"We're thrilled that the industry continues to grow and we're also thrilled that everyone continues to improve how they run their business - we're thrilled the consumer loves our wines and also loves the wine tourism aspect," says Baldwin.
"That marriage of the wine industry with a wine tourism mecca is really what's put us up there on the radar."
Baldwin says a number of the 115 plus member wineries around the Okanagan state the 10 day festival (which represents 3% of the calendar year), contributes to 20% of their annual revenues.
"That is an interesting metric. Based on that, if you and I were in business together and 20% of our sales are made during this 3% period - if we ran five-10 day festivals a year we could sell all of our wine."
And, while success breeds success, it also breeds some level of frustration among consumers who can't get into events because they are sold out.
"Many do," says Baldwin who points to the WestJet Wine Tasting which has been sold out for about three weeks.
"It depends on the nature of the event and how the event business plan is created. It really depends on the nature of the winery or the nature of the signature event as to how successful they are."
Baldwin says with more than 100 events to choose from all over the valley over the 10 days, people who may have been shutout of the more popular ones still have exciting alternatives to choose from.
The wine festival, with events from Kamloops to Osoyoos, runs from Oct. 4 to 14.
Click here for a complete list of events.
Read more Kelowna News
City of Kelowna
Kelowna Discussion Forum
Kelowna's Cultural District
Kelowna Road Closures
William R. Bennett Bridge
Central Okanagan Regional District
District of Peachland
District of Lake Country
School District 23
Okanagan Regional Library
- Budget will cost you additional $45 Dec 10
- Cemetery eyes cost of living increases Dec 10
- Improvements to Centennial Hall, park Dec 10
- All aboard the Santa Sleigh Bus Dec 9
- FortisBC offers Union binding arbitration Dec 9
- Glenmore food drive tonight Dec 9
- Garage fire quickly knocked down Dec 9
- Thrift store celebrates 10 years strong Dec 9
- Big White Sweater Ball Dec 9
- Christmas display going up at Kerry Park Dec 9