Fortify yourself!

Whether you’re a fermenter, brewer, or distiller, Fortify is for you

For the second year, Penticton will host a conference aimed at those in the business of creating products,
by-products, even business products related to brewing, fermenting, and distilling.

Fortify is a one-day conference and trade show for those in the drinks business, featuring presentations from industry professionals and experts on topics ranging from human resources, marketing and sales, finance, and much more.

“Building on the success and feedback from the first Fortify last year, our second event once again brings together those who produce craft beer, ciders, wine, or spirits for a day of education, collaboration, and networking,” said Sandra Oldfield of Elysian Project, co-founder of the conference.

Speakers include experts in the fields of digital marketing, employee management and retention, finance, as well as a series of quick “lightening talks” on innovative solutions for common challenges.

Why should you go? 

On top of the professional development aspect, it’s an end-of-harvest opportunity to network with colleagues after you’ve probably had your head buried in production all autumn, or running your feet off in the tasting room or shop all summer.

There may have been ideas that popped into your head that you promised yourself you’d look into when things slowed down. Or someone you meant to meet with to discuss a collaboration.

Do that at Fortify at the packed trade show of several dozen exhibitors, over the coffee breaks or lunch (both included), or at the evening social event at Cannery Brewing.

Fortify was established to fill a need across industries for education, training and network opportunities to help B.C.’s breweries, wineries, distilleries, and cideries affordably access business supports and tools.

The Nov. 19 event, at the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre, is co-ordinated by the Business Alliance for Artisan Fermenters and Distillers and builds on the popular Wine Industry Roundtable previously hosted by MNP LLP and Farm Credit Canada.

More details and registration can be found here: https://fortifyconference.ca/.


Nov. 7, Kelowna: The Okanagan’s top bartenders compete in the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff.

Nov. 12 and 16, West Kelowna: Off The Grid Organic Winery hosts Wine 101.

Nov. 14, Penticton: Head to the VQA Wine Info Centre for Sipping History and learn more about the history of B.C. wine.

Nov. 16-17, Okanagan Falls: The wineries of Okanagan Falls host their annual Holiday Cheer weekend of open houses.

Nov. 16-17, Okanagan Falls: Blue Mountain hosts its Sparking + Fire open house. Enjoy live music, tasty treats, and wine by the fire. Admission by donation to the Okanagan Falls Elementary School.

Nov. 16, West Kelowna: The annual Sugar Plum Fair takes place at Quails’ Gate.

Nov. 23, Oliver: Take in the Okanagan Cheese Festival at Oliver Eats.

Nov. 22-24, Oliver and Osoyoos: The wineries of Oliver and Osoyoos celebrate Winter in Wine Country with a variety of activities.

Through Dec.21, West Kelowna: Culinary classes are now on at Mission Hill on a variety of topics and dates.


Filling a winemaker's glass

The grape harvest and crush 2019 should be coming to a close soon, save for icewine and fruit destined for late harvest.

It’s been weird weather this season — cold fronts, rain, then sun, then the same cycle of unpredictability day in and out.

What does a winemaker sip on to get through it all?

I asked a few, in honour of the industry saying that it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine. The idea was to list the favourite beers of local winemakers, but some answers were surprising. Enjoy.

Brad Cooper, Black Cloud Pinot Noir

“I like to drink Cannery Brewing’s Trellis IPA. I feel it had the right balance of green hops, citrus influences, and floral notes. It’s a great food accompaniment. When I have one or two, I am in my ‘hoppy’ place.”

Jeff Hundertmark, Mt Boucherie Estate Winery

“Guinness is my harvest beer choice because…well, Guinness! Always my go-to. I know, a little old school, but really have you seen me? I would love to go to the source at St James Gate (in Dublin, Ireland) but the locally brewed version will do just fine.

When I can’t have a Guinness, a good old Fat Tug will get me there, a beauty of a Northwestern IPA from Driftwood in Victoria, B.C.”

Jeff Del Nin, Road 13 Vineyards

“I’m a celiac, so I unfortunately can’t drink beer. The ‘beer’ I love is actually a soda from Phillip’s Brewing on Vancouver Island. This is the best root beer I have ever tasted – rich and complex with some acidity for a nice non-cloying finish.

"This is a craft-brewed, adult’s soft drink if there ever was one. And their cola is also one of the best I’ve ever tried.”

Keira LeFranc, Stag’s Hollow Winery

”Cannery Brewing’s Apricot Wheat Ale. It’s the perfect sunshine-y beer after a long day on the crush pad.”

Graham Pierce, TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars and McWatters Collection

“I love coffee, so I like to say it takes a lot of coffee to make good wine. I drink a ton of Tug 6 coffee; it seems to help my decision making a little better than alcohol. I really love wine, so when work is done I’m likely starting with sparkling wine.

When it’s really hot, I’ll have a local cider, like Nomad. When I’m not drinking wine, I enjoy well-made cocktails, particularly Old Fashioneds and Negronis.”

Bailey Williamson, Blue Grouse Estate Winery

“Beer is the beverage of choice; Coopers Sparkling is a treat when everyone has worked extra hard. Coopers was the choice when I did vintage in Australia. Here now the go to is Phillips Phoenix Lager.”

Matt Dumayne, Okanagan Crush Pad

“Purified water sourced from endless water in Summerland. During this critical time of year, hydration is vital to fuel the body and mind during 100-hour work weeks. Taking a break from alcohol heals the organs, promotes weight loss and resets the body’s clock to provide healthy sleep patterns.

My only choice of water is a nine-stage purification including UV sterilization and reverse osmosis. Endless Water dispensary in Summerland provides such a treat. “


Oct. 28, Penticton: It’s Halloween movie night at Cannery Brewing in support of the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre.

Nov. 1, Penticton: Halloween Mashup at Time Winery and Kitchen.

Nov. 2, Summerland: Saxon Estate Winery hosts the Flamin’ Pumpkin Chunkin’. Bring your Halloween pumpkin and watch it catapult through the air.

Nov. 7, Kelowna: The Okanagan’s top bartenders compete in the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff.

Wines for Thanksgiving

The first fall-family-feast weekend is here.

While your winemaker, grape picker, and cellar hand friends might be absent for Thanksgiving dinner as the grape harvest carries on, we can all raise a glass to the hard work from prior vintages.

And maybe take a hot beverage to those in the vineyard.

For the white-wine fans, or to start the afternoon or evening with something a bit lighter before moving on to reds, give these a try.

Howling Bluff 2018 Pinot Gris: an exceptionally bright wine with tropical aromas, lychee and passion fruit, and perfect for anyone at the table who doesn’t like anything oaky. If the sun is out, throw on a light sweater and hit the patio. And it might, might, pair with ambrosia salad.

Quails’ Gate 2018 Dry Riesling: crisp, dry, almost zesty with citrus notes, this is far from the sweet Riesling the neighbours may have brought over. Red wine drinkers will be impressed, and if one of your courses involves kale and lemon zest, try pairing it with this.

VinAmité 2015 Chardonnay: there are a few vintages out there in wine shops, but try to find a slightly older one. Nicely balanced with careful oak treatment, and a lingering finish, the no-oak dinner guests should try it. Enjoy with seafood appetizers.

Wild Goose 2017 Autumn Gold: the name is appropriate for the occasion. This blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanc has a very slight touch of sweetness and will pair with just about anything on the table.

On the red side, a few choices, listed from lightest to boldest.

Blue Mountain 2017 Gamay Noir: gamay is a very light, fruit-forward red; this bottle has had some neutral oak treatment, which gives it some body and subtle notes of spice and vanilla. Plenty of blueberry and raspberry flavours. Save it for the cranberry fruit crumble for dessert.

Mission Hill 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir: an elegant pinot that should please everyone with its cherry-spice notes, and hints of earthiness with soft tannins and a nice acidity on the finish. Pour it at the beginning of the main course. It’ll be gone before you know it.

Upper Bench 2015 Altitude: mostly merlot, with 25% cabernet sauvignon, this is a red to spark conversation (or change its direction) as the night goes on. Full bodied, ripe with plums, cassis, dark chocolate, and vanilla bean; it will round out a big meal.

Black Hills 2017 Addendum: This is the bottle you keep on the counter just in case, but you hope you don’t need to open it until all the guests are gone. A blend of merlot with 10% each of the cabs franc and sauv, save it for the addendum of the evening when you and your close friends start tidying up and summarizing the day.


Oct. 17-19: the first Kelowna Seafood Celebration takes place with multiple events — Shuck and Saber, Crab and Chardonnay, Whisky and Oysters, and a Saturday Seafood Soirée.

Oct. 19, Salmon Arm: Take a road trip to the Shuswap Wine Fest with Spirit, with more than 100 food and drink samples.

Through Oct. 13, Penticton: Enjoy a Table d’Hote menu at Time Winery and Kitchen, four courses with additional wine pairings as an option.


Wine festival extravaganza

A sure sign of fall for wine lovers – planning an agenda of tastings, dinners, seminars and events during the annual Okanagan Fall Wine Festival.

There are more than 100 at the Oct. 3-13 festival, so how do you choose?

Thankfully, the festival website lets you search by date, region of the valley, and a few other options.

My advice? Choose a variety, and book soon.

There are a handful of signature events, some may be familiar. The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards and Reception starts things off and provides a good shopping list for stocking your cellar.

The WestJet tasting event takes place on a grand and dramatic scale in Kelowna with dozens of wineries taking over the Carson Air Hangar at YLW. It is also a good event for taking note of wineries to visit, and bottles to buy.

New this year in Penticton is Sensation, presented by Valley First.

“This is a one-of-a-kind experiential tasting, where wines have been paired with different cultural experiences, keeping the five senses in mind. Guests can see, touch, hear, smell, and (of course) taste their way through dozens of B.C. wines at this sensational event,” said Angela Brown, Okanagan Wine Festivals Society chair.

On top of these larger celebrations, throw in a few more intimate experiences.

How about a Pork and Pinot Long Table dinner at CedarCreek? Exploring Roots and Vines at Ex Nihilo by shopping at a Farmers’ Market in the vineyard? Or live music and barbecue at Rust Wine?

You can also learn a few things at Township 7 for the 7 Sensations of Wine, participate in winemaking at Harvest Work Days at Noble Ridge, attempt a winery-based Escape Room at the Vinstitute at Intersection, or take in Fromage and Ferment and learn about cheese at River Stone.

And don’t miss the 8th annual Garlic Festival at Hester Creek, the Lamb Dinner at Quinta Ferreira, and the Best Paella in the Okanagan at Da Silva.

There are too many events to list here, and many sell out in advance of the festival, so choose soon, and reserve your seats before you miss out.


Sept. 27, Okanagan Falls: Meatstock takes place at Wild Goose Vineyards. An evening of meats prepared by the Smoke & Oak Bistro, plus wine pairings.

Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, Penticton: Learn about the 7 Sensations of Wine at Township 7, a fun and interactive event for all wine lovers.

Sept. 28, Kamloops: SunPeaks Resort hosts its second annual Cider Fest, part of a weekend of autumn activities.

Sept. 28, Naramata: Da Silva Vineyards hosts a rustic hearty Portuguese farm table dinner with Chef Abul Adame.

Sept. 28, Osoyoos: Reserve your spots for the annual Winemakers’ Dinner at Nk’Mip Cellars.

Oct. 6, Oliver: The annual Festival of the Grape returns with numerous wineries and its famous grape stomp.

More Okanagan Taste articles

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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