Canada’s Wine Capital is expanding this year! We are all very excited here in Oliver, BC. I’m certain all you wine, beer, cider, spirit, and food lovers will be too by the time you finish reading this post! Guaranteed you’ll be blocking off a week or two in your calendar to spend here in Oliver and the South Okanagan this summer.
Some may wonder how it’s even possible for Oliver to expand and get even better following such a challenging year as 2020.
Interestingly, 2020 was the catalyst for some positive changes in the wine industry. Sales were up regardless of the “limited space” and “by appointment only” approaches most wineries implemented to manage their tasting rooms.
Tasting rooms were much quieter than normal, but the wine tasting experience was more intimate and enjoyable for both wine ambassadors and guests. Wine ambassadors had the time to deliver a more personable experience for guests, and guests who visited were more selective and serious about the wine. Online sales were up too.
Wineries all abided by provincial health guidelines, guests and staff stayed safe, and everyone continued to have a great time while sipping some of the best wine that the Okanagan has to offer.
While observing these silver linings that 2020 brought, the soon-to-open District Wine Village is feeling optimistic about its future success despite the pandemic.
It has lots of space to be able to implement social distancing measures and to still be able to accommodate a fair number of wine lovers and foodies. And not just in spring and summer. The District Wine Village has some fun and cozy winter plans too!
Everything You Want To Know About District Wine Village
I recently had the opportunity to ask the team at District Wine Village all the questions you are dying to know the answers to. This is going to be one amazing place to visit all year round!
What was the inspiration behind District Wine Village?
The inspiration came from Matt Kenyon of Greyback Construction. He and a friend used to spitball ideas back and forth. The Wine Village was one idea. They were like, “This could actually work!” You know how many of those wild beer nights don’t often come up with ideas that actually come to fruition. But, this one they were like, “I think we actually have something here.”
That friend passed away about three years ago now. This is something that they had started to work on together but Matt decided to keep it going in legacy to him and brought Mike Daley on board for the logistics.
What is the vision for District Wine Village?
The vision is to be like a Disneyland for adults so it’s really a one-stop-shop where people can gather for wine, food, and beer, the best the Okanagan has to offer all in one exceptional location.
What kind of vendors will be stationed at District Wine Village?
Phase one, which is opening this summer, will be mostly wineries and one brewery. There will be an exciting educational component coming on board and we will have an eatery as well.
We have some really amazing names in winemaking, including some who are just starting out like Vintners Cove Winery. Sam Baptiste who is the viticulturist for Nk’MIP Cellars and Eric Mide have joined forces to create a wonderful brand there.
One Faith Vineyards have been making wine since 2012 as a garagiste but never actually had a stand-alone location.
Winemakers Cut will be releasing their sparkling sub-brand including two Frizzante wines and a Prosecco style.
Trading Post Eatery, which has three brewery tasting rooms and eateries in the Lower Mainland, is expanding to the Okanagan with us. They serve upscale food like fried chicken sandwiches, soups, salads, and share plates.
How many wineries will be stationed at the District Wine Village?
There are 16 facilities. We don’t have the list yet as not all 16 (facilities) are currently leased however of the nine that we have so far, seven are wineries. I think, in the end, it will likely be at least 70% wineries. We’re doing a push towards cideries, breweries, and distilleries as well.
Will there be a rotation of vendors at District Wine Village?
Vendors have a lease agreement for several years (with us) but when their lease is up, say after the first three years, they can determine if they wish to continue with the Wine Village.
We might be an incubator for some of the properties, so maybe they start out with us, they start with less than a 2000 case production, and then they decide that they want to grow beyond that. At that point, they’ve already built and established a brand and they can open up a larger facility on their own somewhere.
For some, maybe they keep within that capacity and the Wine Village will make sense for the long term.
I think there will be a little bit of attribution throughout the year but it won’t be a constant rotation.
What other features and vendors will District Wine Village have?
There will be a culinary garden for the restaurant portion. Because there will be vineyards on-site as well, we’ve already talked with a few of the vendors who are planning to do experiential tourism tastings as part of it.
Bill from One Faith Vineyards is really excited to bring people out into the vineyard, show them how to prune, show them all the in’s and outs of what actually goes into making that bottle of wine that they’re getting at the end product. There are some really experiential things that we can do there.
There will be an event facility as well, so it will have space for people to host weddings and gatherings. We can host large scale events. Our centre plaza seats 600 people. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to utilize that full capacity.
What will winter look like at District Wine Village?
The centre ring of the plaza will be outfitted with all of the necessary infrastructures to be able to make a skating rink in the winter. We’ll be able to pump through glycol so that it stays chilled and have it as not just a summer destination.
We really want to make it a year-round fun thing for people to do. There will be fire pits. It will be really fun, and not just for adults. We want to make it accessible for everybody, so kid-friendly so that families, especially in the winter, can bundle up, go for a little skate, enjoy some tastings, sit around by the fire, and just make it a really amazing experience.
When will District Wine Village open?
That is the very exciting part! It’s coming along really quickly. We are expecting to do the soft opening in June this year.
We will likely serve the full grand opening in July pending COVID, pending the world opening, but vendors will be in there and ready to sell as of May, and June will be our official.
With the current health regulations in place, how are you planning for the 2021 season?
That is really one day at a time as we carry out our opening plans. Things seem to be month to month right now but what health officials seem to be projecting is that by summer we should be a little bit more back to normal.
If it’s anything like last summer, where (wineries) still saw some good traffic coming in, different protocols will have to be in place.
We’re really fortunate with District Wine Village that we do have a lot of space, lots of open areas for people to enjoy. It might be, if things aren’t fully open, a bit more of a lineup. We’d just have to put distancing measures in place but we have a lot of room to play with to be able to do it safely.
Stay In The Know!
As you can see, we’ve got some exciting things coming up this year in Oliver BC, so stay tuned to the District Wine Village News & Updates page!
Still have questions? Or are you a winemaker or artisan producer looking for a unique space? Get in touch with District Wine Village.