What’s next for B.C.'s wine industry?

B.C. wine future

If you’re in the B.C. wine industry, a fan of Okanagan wines or are somehow linked to it in hospitality, tourism or another business, you no doubt know the industry is on the edge.

I’ve been a supporter in a variety of ways since I returned to my hometown, Penticton, a little more than 15 years ago.

In my much younger days, I spent several of my summers in between university semesters working as a travel counsellor in a building on the Okanagan Lakeshore that was replaced long ago, next to the original Penticton Peach, also long gone.

At that time, there were fewer than 10 wineries, and I knew virtually nothing about wine. As I pursued and built my career in several big cities over a dozen years, I watched Okanagan wineries emerge from afar.

I had the notion that one day it would be great to move back to the valley and maybe work in wine, so I took WSET classes and began to educate myself.

I returned to work in arts and culture, and while that didn’t last as long as anyone in my circle expected it to—also a sector that continually faces challenges—I stuck around, and opened myself to possibilities with a Tweet—“will work for wine.”

Change, obviously, is inevitable. The travel info centre I worked at, that first peach concession stand where I’d get ice cream and even some of the original wineries are gone or have given way to something newer. And Twitter (now X)? I rarely get to that social network anymore.

Okanagan wine, and Canadian wine as a whole, has evolved, as everything does. It’s recognized on the world stage, it’s been in the glasses of renowned experts, writers and reviewers and a few celebrities. Does Jerry Springer count as the latter? I once got a bottle to him with a personal note inviting him to visit.

So, what’s next?

The current and ongoing issues of climate change, shifting travel trends, the economy overall, changing consumer tastes when it comes to alcohol, the most recent crop damage reports and more will not go away. Acknowledging and addressing these challenges are the first two steps, in my opinion.

The next step, and I know many are not feeling this yet and perhaps never will is embracing change.

Change brings opportunity. I’m not at all sure what that is right now, but 30 years ago, could anyone have predicted how B.C wine would grow, both literally and figuratively?

We’ll make it to the next step. It won’t be smooth. It will take a while. We might trip. We might fall. But I think we’ll get there.

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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