Wine industry making moves forward to sustainability

Sustainable wine industry

A theme is emerging this spring in the wine business, and it’s not just the bright-eyed enthusiasm of tasting rooms and winery patios opening for the season. It’s the business of sustainability.

If you were around wineries and a handful of gourmet food shops a few years ago, you may recall seeing Winecrush products in tasting rooms or at events. The company has transformed from turning the leftover materials from the winemaking process into tasty bites to a new name and business outlook.

Now CrushDynamics, it is pioneering a biomechanical process that, in a nutshell, takes the waste from wineries and upcycles it into food ingredients that reduce salt and sugar, boosts nutrition, reduces environmental impact and optimizes taste.

The company is reaping in millions in funding as it seeds expansion plans.

CrushDynamics began at Okanagan wineries, including Stag’s Hollow in Okanagan Falls. Stag’s Hollow recently achieved sustainability certification from Sustainable Winegrowing British Columbia (SWBC).

SWBC recognizes the efforts and achievements by wineries to minimize their impact on the environment.

This means taking a holistic approach that enhances soil health and carbon capture, promotes biodiversity, protects waterways and cares for the health and well-being of employees and the wider community.

Who knew all of this thought went into your glass of pinot?

Meanwhile, SWBC member Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna is looking up from the soil and vines to the power of the sun to do more than just ripen grapes.

Working with SolShare Energy, Tantalus has just gone live with bifacial solar panels on the winery’s main building, anticipated to produce 60,000 kWh of energy per year. At peak times, the solar system will offset 70% to 100% of Tantalus’ electrical consumption. It is SolShare’s first project in Kelowna.

Further south, in Summerland, Okanagan Crush Pad is the first Canadian winery to join the IWCA – the International Wineries for Climate Action.

Founded by Familia Torres (Penedes, Spain) and Jackson Family Wines (California, USA) in 2019, IWCA set out to galvanize the global wine community to create climate change mitigation strategies and decarbonize the industry.

From May 23 to 26, 150 speakers from around the world will converge, virtually, for Green Wine Future from eight regions (presented in English, Spanish and French), to discuss climate change, biodiversity, wine tourism, regenerative viticulture, and more.

Canada will be represented by keynote speakers Chief Clarence Louisof the Osoyoos Indian Band and Melanie Mark, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport.

These are all great steps in the greening of the wine industry.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Award-winning wines for mom on her special day

Toast mom with these wines

There are plenty of options for brunch for Mother’s Day this weekend, but if the mom or the mother figure in your life is more of an oenophile and appreciates good wine more than eggs benny, here are some bottles to wrap up as your gift.

First, take note, all of these bottles are winners from last week’s Cascadia International Wine Competition held in Richland, Wa. You can scroll through the gold and double gold medalists on Facebook until the final full list for 2022 is posted on the web.

This competition accepts entries from across the Pacific Northwest, so it is, indeed, international.

And, you can legitimately say to your ma one of the judges at Cascadia – that would be me – recommends these bottles from B.C. Judging is done blind, but after all the swirling, sniffing and spitting was done, I discovered a few of these were in my flights. I even recognized a couple of them as being from the Okanagan.

Maan Farms Estate Winery in Abbotsford won double gold for its 2020 Strawberry-Raspberry blend fruit wine. Yes, a fruit wine. The aromas wafting out of the glass were akin to a fresh pie cooling on the window sill.

Still in a slightly sweeter style, Stag’s Hollow Winery’s 2021 Tragically Vidal was also a double gold winner, and a spot-on Vidal, as noted by one of my fellow judges.

This table wine is perfect with a fresh fruit salad if you’re making brunch for mom. So is gold medal winner Wild Goose for its 2019 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. Wild Goose also took gold for its 2021 Sauvignon Blanc and Upper Bench in Naramata won gold for its 2019 Estate Chardonnay.

Both Hester Creek and Gehringer Brothers took gold medals for some unique white blends. Hester Creek for its recent vintage of Pinot Gris-Viognier, and Gehringer Brothers for its 2021 Desert Sun (a Riesling-based blend), and its Gewürztraminer-Schönburger. Hester Creek also won double gold for its 2021 Old Vines Pinot Blanc.

While the Okanagan’s aromatic whites shine in competition and our terroir invites much jealousy from other winemakers in the Pacific Northwest, our reds were recognized as well.

Double gold for Volcanic Hills 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. When I realized this bold B.C. red wine had been in one of my flights, and my judging panel pushed it to double gold status, I was both thrilled and amazed, thinking it was from somewhere further south. Serve this with a steak for your ma.

Volcanic Hills took a gold medal for its 2017 Merlot, as did Phantom Creek for its 2019 Kobau Vineyard Syrah.

The top wine overall was a spectacular sparkling wine from 3100 Cellars in Idaho. Not available here, but I thought it might have been a bottle of 2018 Polaris from Township 7. Short of whipping down to Idaho, this B.C. bubbly is an ideal option for toasting mom.


This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Ways to sustainably celebrate Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day

This coming Friday (April 22) we will mark another Earth Day, and with summer coming and last year’s heat dome still somewhat fresh in our memories, it’s a good time for a refresher on ways to cut back on your environmental impact.

If styrofoam collects in your home—takeout and delivery may subside a bit but the convenience of Friday night dinner dropped at the door likely won’t—your local recycling may be able to take it, including some bottle depots.

Be a good neighbour and ask if you can gather it from others, then take a large collection out.

Of course, we’re all good at recycling our glass bottles or giving them to local charities so they can collect the cash. Soda enthusiasts? Consider a SodaStream, at least as an adjunct to your canned bevvies.

It’s also becoming easier to find other “green” kitchen gadgets.

Cuisipro has a new sustainable collection of lovely items for cooking, storage, and entertaining.

Going on a long-awaited road rip this year? Get everyone their own personal cutlery set—eight pieces including the usual implements, plus a set of chopsticks and reusable straws. It comes in an attractive biodegradable case so you can forget plastic knives and forks for good. Add a fibre wood board for a picnic charcuterie display and you’re good to go.

As a bonus, Cuisipro is donating a percentage of its sales to water.org.

Shopping local is now a familiar mantra. Save the eco-impact of shipping by heading to your local winery, distillery, brewery or cidery to pick up your favourites or, if you’re having libations shipped, ask friends to go in with you to fill a case. Use growlers at breweries.

Looking for sustainable wines? Here are a few to consider if you’re sipping a glass this Friday.

Blue Grouse Estate Winery, 2020 Amphora Collection Bacchus: The winery uses Eco Glass, which uses 25 percent less glass than a typical wine bottle, and this wine contains grapes that have been grown at the winery’s estate vineyard. Plus, their glass is sourced from the Pacific Northwest instead of Europe.

Monte Creek Winery, Haskap Fruit Wine: Made from Haskap berries grown at the winery, planted so the resident honeybees can feed on the Haskap flowers, pollinate the plants, and provide honey. The winery also uses ‘chicken tractors’, which are actually coops with wheels that move through the vineyard. The chickens follow, and as they go through the vines the birds naturally replenish the fields with manure.

Okanagan Crush Pad, 2018 Free Form Rosé: All Free Form wines are made with organic grapes, native yeasts, and no additives. This rosé is made with certified organic Cabernet Franc grapes, and the label is made using eco-friendly stone paper.

Blasted Church, 2020 Unorthodox Chardonnay: The winery uses cover crops (plants grown between the vines), to achieve a natural balance and enrich the soil. All the grapes in this Chard came from the winery’s own vineyard, where the soil was replenished through the cover crop program.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Scheduling your four-day Easter long weekend with food and wine in mind

Long weekend wine fun

It’s easy this year to plan ahead for the Easter long weekend, as numerous events are coming back and most tasting rooms will open for the season. But do plan ahead. All indications suggest it’s going to be busy.

Step one: Help yourself out by downloading the Wines of B.C. Explorer app from Wines of British Columbia. And, since it’s B.C. Wine Month, you can take the Level 1 B.C. Wine Ambassador program online for free in April, just use the code BCWINEMONTH.

Step two: Have a look at these events scheduled for the long weekend. Choose one or two, and then book them before the seats are gone. Enjoy.

Adult Easter Egg Hunt: Township 7, Penticton – Yes, a hunt just for the adults takes place on April 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy a glass of wine while collecting corks and eggs, then turn your finds in for prizes. Information here.

Easter Brunch: Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek, Oliver – A three-course brunch with several options for your main, including Shakshuka, a dish of North African style eggs. Available on April 17. Reservations required.

Weekend Pairings: VinAmité, Oliver – Book a tasting on April 15, 16, or 17 and you’ll be treated to the winery’s new spring releases paired with five thoughtfully chosen ‘accoutrements’, including a special sweet pairing with their fortified wine.

Easter Brunch: Naramata Inn, Naramata – Available on April 16 and 17. Three brunch features – eggs benny, sourdough waffles, or shrimp frittata – to choose from, or peruse the regular lunch menu.

Easter Egg Hunt: Phantom Creek, OliverNo reservations needed to join in the hunt for treats on April 17; while the kids search, the adults can taste wine.

Easter Brunch: Liquidity Wines, Okanagan Falls Book a two-course, wine-paired brunch on April 16 or 17.

Sneak Peek Dinner, Nk’Mip Cellars, Osoyoos – Not Easter-themed, but on the long weekend you can book a preview dinner on April 16 before the summer season begins.

Easter Sunday Dinner, Mission Hill, West Kelowna – Not in the mood for brunch? Book this one-night-only Easter four-course dinner.

Easter Funny, Freddy’s Brewpub, Kelowna – Something totally different. Stand-up comedian Howie Miller and the Train Wreck Comedy Tour make a stop on April 15.

Marvellous Mushrooms, Okanagan Heritage Museum, Kelowna – Why not learn something at this travelling exhibit from the Royal B.C. Museum? This special exhibit runs until May 23. Maybe it will inspire your culinary creativity.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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