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Opinion  

Wine tourism: we'll drink to that

The honours just keep piling up for the Okanagan's burgeoning wine industry.

We're good at wine; and the world is starting to realize it.

Wine Enthusiast magazine, said by Okanagan Wine Festivals guru Blair Baldwin to be one of the top two global authorities on anything vino, ranked the Valley this week among its top 10 world wine destinations.

The honours recognize not just the wine itself, but the culture around it and supporting it, from restaurants to tourist attractions, activities and accommodations. In short, everything that goes into making the Okanagan a great place to sip a good glass of wine.

Are we surprised? No. The Valley's reputation has been steadily building for decades. But it finally seems to have hit critical mass – we're being ranked up there with the big boys and winning awards all the time.

For further proof of how important the industry is to the Valley, consider the following:

– The Okanagan is home to 217 wineries.

– Visitors to Valley wineries generate $139 million annually in economic impact.

– The sector employs 1,100 full-time workers in wine tourism and tourism-related jobs.

– Across the province (but mainly in the Okanagan), wineries and wine events attract 800,000 tourists a year.

– Those visitors drop an average of $474 a day on accommodation, food, wine and other expenses.

– More than half those tourists visit four or more different wineries.

That's worth popping the cork on a nice bottle and toasting the Valley's success, which benefits us all through its trickle down through the economy.

Cheers!

— News Director Jon Manchester

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