Sip Into Fall at Covert Farms
Harvest Weekends are in full swing at Covert Farms Family Estates where you’ll find loads of fun and relaxing things to do for the entire family. They are open five days per week (Wed-Sun, 11 am – 5 pm) until October 31st and open weekends until Dec 14th.
All experiences will happen outside throughout the fall and into the holiday season due to COVID-19 protocols and limited space inside. But don’t you worry! Covert Farms is prepared to keep its guests cozy!
Heaters on the rustic covered patios will ensure that guests stay as comfy as possible during wine-tastings and picnics.
Here’s what’s up this fall:
Self-Guided Farm Tours
Self-guided farm tours are being held throughout the fall where you can learn the history of the farm; about the organic, biodynamic, and regenerative farming practices that make this farm unique; and visit animals such as sheep, cows, llamas, chickens, and ducks. There are always bins of culls available to feed the animals.
You’ll also meet an adorable Vietnamese potbellied pig named Delilah. She’s such a friendly and sociable gal! The kids will have a chance to feed her veggies. She loves tomatoes!
Kids must be accompanied by an adult for the tours as they will enter the chicken pen and have close contact with the animals.
Private Hands-On Harvest Tour
For this 1.5 hour tour, you’ll travel the entire 650-acre farm and vineyard via the iconic red ’52 Mercury truck.
You’ll learn all about Covert Farms and sustainable farming practices and wine-making, and also visit the resident animals, eat grapes right off the vine, taste delicious organic wine, and sample local cheeses and charcuterie. There are vegetarian options too.
On weekends, you can book a picnic spot for up to 6 adults and 5 kids on the large rustic covered patio. There are two spots available.
Spend two hours sipping from two bottles of wine while nibbling away on a charcuterie board. Your kids can play on the jumping pillow while you relax. You can also take them on a self-guided tour. What’s even better? The booking comes with four pumpkins! The cost is $180.
Three Unique Wine Tastings
If you’re a smaller group or a couple, you can sit down and relax on a lovely outdoor patio adorned with seasonal flowers.
Enjoy one of three wine-tasting experiences while learning the history of Covert Farms.
- Private Estate Tasting: includes five wines.
- Private Premium Tasting: includes 5 wines paired with cheeses and crackers.
- Private Epicurean Grand Reserve Tasting: includes 6 wines and charcuterie (vegetarian options too).
If one hour isn’t long enough, you can book a little longer.
You will also have an opportunity to pick pumpkins from the Discovery Garden pumpkin patch.
Discovery Garden Pumpkin Patch
If you want to purchase a pumpkin and don’t want to taste wine you can do that too. Enter at the fruit stand or you can pick from a bin of pumpkins. A Halloween board will show the sizes and cost of pumpkins.
Starting October 17th, the fruit stand pumpkin patch will be open by appointment on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm.
Pick Your Own Fruit’s & Veggies!
Yes, that’s right! It’s getting near the end of the season for this but you can get up close and personal with the dirt and the treasures that come from it here at Covert Farms.
During the season, you can pick your own fruits and veggies like blueberries, everbearing strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, table grapes, grape and heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and more. There are over 40 different fruit and vegetable crops that you can get here at Covert Farms.
“It’s really amazing how many people who are really fussy about having the perfect tomato at the grocery are less selective when they’re out here picking,” explained Shelly. “It’s sad to see a tomato that just has a tiny mark just go on the ground and get thrown away. They see what happens to all of those tomatoes that aren’t just absolutely perfect.”
Check the website for all of the harvest dates including what you can pick and what you can not.
COVID-19 Protocols in Place for a Fun, Safe Experience
Covert Farms has done a top-notch job of ensuring that its staff and guests stay safe and have a great time.
For now, the inside tasting room is off-limits so all experiences happen outdoors on a charming rustic covered patio or in the farmyard.
“Nobody goes inside except to go to the washroom,” Shelly said.
Staff is masked anytime they are prepping food or pouring wine. Wine is poured and charcuterie boards are prepared and covered prior to guests’ arrival.
Each outdoor wine-tasting station is spaced six feet apart and equipped with a plexiglass screen so guests can easily understand staff while they tell the story of Covert Farms, the charcuterie, and the wine portfolio.
Hand sanitizers are also available for use on every table, at the entrance upon arrival, and in the farmyard.
Upon entry, guests must fill out their contact information. Signs out in the field also remind people to socially distance.
Summer Season Success!
Regardless of all the limitations due to COVID-19 that threw everyone for a loop this spring, Covert Farms had a successful summer. They had to do things a little differently like book wine-tasting appointments instead of welcoming guests in for a tasting on the spot, but they managed to bring in the same revenue with approximately one-third the number of guests.
The reason for this? Many guests who made appointments were more serious about the wine and spent more time at the farm. Fewer guests also meant that staff had more time to organize and deliver a more personable experience.
About Covert Farms
How Big Is Covert Farms?
Covert Farms is a whopping 650 acres. A good chunk of it, 300 acres, is leased out Peller Estates.
Forty acres are used for growing organic grapes and another forty acres is leased out to Seacrest Organics for growing fruits and veggies.
A large chunk of land is also used for grazing animals.
BioDynamic & Regenerative Farming Practices
Covert Farms grows forty varieties of fruits and veggies under the name Seacrest Organics. The land is leased to Terry Grewal who has been with the farm since 1986. He and his wife, Harpreet, manage the fruits and veggies at the old office.
Biodynamic and regenerative practices enable the farm to operate on its own. Essentially, Covert Farms uses nature to work with nature, so no herbicides or pesticides are ever used. They use companion planting to control pests. For example, if they have an issue like cutworm they plant mustard seed. The cutworm becomes attracted to the mustard seed and the mustard seed kills the cutworm. So, the vines essentially stay untouched.
Plans are in the works to move into dry farming. Currently, they use cover cropping to help retain water.
Shelly explained, “We had an abandoned vineyard that went through a frost. Some of those vines have not been irrigated and are still surviving eight to ten years later.”
Where do Covert Farms Crops Go?
Ground crops and fruit are shipped off to places like Discovery Foods in Vancouver, Whole Foods, and all the Natures Fairs, Quality Greens, and Choices in the Okanagan. Produce also gets shipped off to Calgary and Edmonton.
Next year Shelly hopes to sell lamb, organic whole chicken, and eggs at the farm.
The Covert Farms Animal Kingdom
Eventually, Covert Farms began incorporating animals into their land stewardship.
They currently have various types of chickens and ducks, including Indian Runner Ducks. Kids can climb onto the hay bales, look in the windows, and learn about the colours of eggs and different chickens.
They also have 30 head of Highland and Speckle Park cows which travel from field to field on cover crops. They help break up the ground for fruits and veggies to be planted next year. Cover crops also contribute to the biology of the soil and produce nitrogen.
Other animals include sheep (Barbados Blackbelly and Dorper Ram) and Berkshire pigs.
Delilah, the Vietnamese potbellied pig, was rescued from Osoyoos. She is currently 6 months old and will get a little bit taller, and wider too Shelly says if she stays in the chicken coop where kids like to throw culls! Culls are veggies ready for the compost bin.
Llamas were brought in recently as guardian animals to protect the sheep from coyotes and local dogs. Plans are also in the works to train the llamas to take picnics to the bluff. That’s still another two years away as the llamas are just starting to be introduced to a lead.
Two 5-months old Maremma Italian Sheep Dogs were also brought in to be guardians for the sheep. When they are a year old they will move the sheep around the farm to graze, fertilize, and break up the soil for future planting.
A hole in the fence allows the dogs and Delilah to travel between pastures. The three sleep together in an outdoor dog house.