The Okanagan is becoming a buzzword in travel circles. The valley has been on so many top ten lists in recent years, it’s hard to keep track of all the accolades, and chefs are migrating here – year-round and seasonally — where farm-to-table is as easy as a walk to a local market.
While the South Okanagan may still be undiscovered in the grand scheme of wine regions, the growth the industry here means more economic activity. The Canadian wine industry’s economic impact is almost $7 billion, and for every bottle of wine produced in our country, $31 of domestic economic impact is generated. Our region plays an important role in generating those numbers.
A lot of work goes into a bottle of wine, and each step in the process can involve a large amount of economic activity. The vines need to be tended by workers, from planting to pruning to picking. The bins at harvest need to be organized. Equipment for sorting and crushing grapes, then storing the juice needs to be purchased and maintained. Bottles are bought, bottling line equipment must be ready, labels printed, and finally sales and marketing tools and tasting room staff get the wine to consumers.
Of course, the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce encourages everyone to shop local. That also includes making a choice to choose locally produced wines, spirits or craft beer, for your cellar and your dinner parties. And a number of businesses have created products from the by-products of wine, such as cheeses and breads, even artisan soaps, or items that enhance your wine and cheese pairings – cutting boards, glassware, coasters, even artwork. How about a local soda made with rosé?
Then, there is wine tourism. How many times have you been asked by visitors where to stay, where to eat, AND where to buy wine? When someone comes to visit our area they may buy one bottle of wine or several cases, but they also spend money on a hotel, meals, activities, attractions, or have registered for one of our many sporting events, or are attending a conference or festival.
The next time you open a bottle of local wine, think about everything that went into making it, and how our local economy benefits from this growth – pun intended – industry.