Penticton businesses report boom in tourism bookings after some restrictions lifted this week

 

Boom in tourism bookings

 

Casey Richardson

Hotels, restaurants and wineries saw a large jump up in bookings after BC moved into stage two of its reopening plan this week, welcoming recreational travel for the province and ending restrictions between health regions.

The provincial government announced on Monday that BC was transitioning to the next phase, effective Tuesday — the earliest date possible in.

“Since the COVID restrictions for the 16 of June have been lifted, we have experienced a lot of phone calls, which is exciting for us and the staff. We expect to be between 90 and 100 per cent full for all of July and August. We’re excited to see what’s going to be happening after the post COVID-era of the last 14 to 16 months for sure,” Billy Coles, co-owner and GM of Hotel Penticton said.

“We saw an immediate boost in bookings, the phone has been running off the hook for, I think a couple of days now. And it’s been really clear to the staff as well, we went from like, second gear to fifth gear, and literally in one day. So for the rest of the weekend, in fact, we have over 100 bookings, every service, so it’s busy,”Michael Ziff, the food and beverage manager for Poplar Grove said.

For Hillside Winery, bookings in their restaurant and wine tasting room have been coming in ‘fast and furious,’ according to the Director of food and beverage, Lisa Henderson.

“Both are looking very busy. Reservations are definitely recommended…We actually have had a few bigger groups that we just don’t have the room for. So lots of groups are out and about. And we’re kind of limiting how many we’re actually taking. So we have had to juggle a little bit, but we can usually get you in on a different evening,” she explained.

Businesses are having to turn people away due to being fully booked.

“I think Penticton has become a little bit of the palm springs of Canada, so many people are calling, especially on the weekends and the long weekends, looking for rooms. And unfortunately, we’re not even able to send them to other hotels because a lot of folks are just booked on those weekends,” Coles added.

And while some businesses are struggling with getting staff hired now that tourism season is back, others are prepped and ready to go.

“This is my ninth season here at Hillside. We have a very dedicated crew that’s actually knocking on my door in spring going, ‘When are we open?’ So it’s fantastic, they are ready…And it’s really, really nice to have those same faces come back every year,” Henderson said.

“We’re actually quite good for staff. I know it’s not easy, in lots of places. I’ve talked to a lot of colleagues in the industry, whether it be in the tasting room or restaurants and some people have been having some issues staffing up. Luckily, I did it in advance. I’m tight, but I’m there. If I had any less, it would be problematic,” Ziff explained.

The outlook for tourism is strong throughout the summer months, and even extending into fall.

“I joked with my wife today that I’ll probably see her in October. So I’m guessing it’s going to be right through till harvest too,” Ziff said.

Henderson added that everyone coming in is in a positive mood,

“I think everybody is really happy. The energy of everybody is almost that little bit of relief. And it’s kinda like getting back to normal. I think it feels good.”

A new West Kelowna winery has agreed to address concerns around vehicle access

Winery resolves access

West Kelowna planning staff are satisfied a new winery in the city has provided a solution to concerns over vehicle access.

City council deferred a decision on support of a lounge endorsement and special event liquor license for Crown and Thieves Winery over inadequacies of two rural, neighbourhood roads.

While they endorsed the venture, council was concerned about a large volume of traffic accessing the winery using Angus Drive and Harding Road.

It was felt the roads were not upgraded to the point where they could handle the additional traffic.

“To me…the answer is really Brown Road,” stated Coun. Rick de Jong during the Jan. 12 discussion.

In bringing the application back for further consideration, staff said the owners have provided a letter intending to address the concerns of council while also including three key points regarding access which have been verified by staff.

These include:

  • An easement has been granted and registered over 3887Brown Road (Truck 59) and 3870 Harding Road, the property to the north creating a formal access to the subject property (Crown & Thieves Winery) off Brown Road
  • An existing access to 3887 Brown Road (Truck 59) will be used to create additional access and parking
  • The applicant is committed to having the access as a condition of the business license.

Access off Brown Road would be a condition of the license, meaning it could be refused or suspended should that access no longer be used.

The staff report indicated winery staff would use Harding Road while patrons would use Brown Road.

“Brown Road is an area in transition with multiple new wineries being planned, and some road improvements to Brown Road may be made as part of adjacent projects,” the report concluded.

Winery explosion around Oliver

Okanagan Crush Pad winemaker Matt Dumayne crafted a diverse bunch of new release wines for the Summerland-based Haywire and Narrative labels. Lionel Trude

They have names such as Red Horses, Second Chapter, Sonora Desert, French Door and Lakeside.

They are the Okanagan’s newest wineries and belong to the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association, taking membership of the group to 44.

In all, B.C. now has 370 wineries, most of them in the Okanagan.

 The statistics are a testament to the strength and rapid growth of the wine industry in the province.

Thirty-five years ago there were only 15 wineries in B.C.

Now, with 370 wineries, the industry is worth $2.8 billion annually.

The wineries get their grapes from 929 vineyards covering 10,260 acres in nine regions, Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Thompson, Shuswap, Lillooet and Kootenays.

Red Horses, owned and operated by three generations of the Fortin family, is the first winery right in the town of Oliver at 365 Zinfandel Ave.

While its address may be Zinfandel, the winery capitalizes on Oliver’s heat and gravelly soils to make three big and bold Cabernet Sauvignons.

The winery also makes a Chardonnay and Merlot and two other wines with horse-inspired names, the Cross Breed blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and Run Away Rose.

Second Chapter Wine Co. on Tinhorn Creek Road in Oliver is owned by John Pullen, previous co-proprietor of Church & State Winery in Oliver for 15 years.

Church & State was sold and Second Chapter is literally Pullen’s second chapter in the Okanagan wine industry.

Sonora Desert Winery in Osoyoos is a venture of grape growers and brothers Paul and Herman Gill.

French Door is a family-owned winery on Oliver’s Black Sage Bench.

And Lakeside Cellars is indeed beside Osoyoos Lake on the East Bench.

The Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association also wants you to know its Uncork the Sun series of podcasts with Moss Scheurkogel of The Vinstitute continues.

The first four episodes (creating a wine cellar, terroir, oak or no oak and viticulture) can be downloaded from OliverOsoyoos.com, iTunes or Spotify.

Scheurkogel also hosts virtual wine tastings on Facebook Live with the oak or no oak theme repeated Tuesday at 7 p.m., sparkling wines on June 23 at the same time and the softer side of reds on July 7.

The association has also posted the 360-degree video tour of Covert Farms Winery to its website.

Amazing winemaker

Winemaker Matt Dumayne can do it all.

The evidence is in the 12 new-release wines he crafted for Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland under the Haywire and Narrative labels.

The dozen runs the gamut from white and red to rose and sparkling.

Dumayne is a Kiwi who worked in New Zealand, Australia, California and Nk’Mip on Osoyoos before landing at Okanagan Crush Pad in 2012.

Taste South Africa

Affordable, approachable and quality.

That enviable trifecta is being touted all of June as B.C. government liquor stores celebrate Wines of South Africa Month.

The COVID pandemic meant special tastings and events couldn’t be arranged.

However, there’s ample signage drawing attention to South African wines and tempting you to take home a bottle from the well-established Southern Hemisphere wine region.

You’re also urged to flaunt your drinking on social media with the hashtags #SpectacularSouthAfrica and #DrinkChenin.

Chenin Blanc is a grape and wine originally from France, but South Africa has made it it’ signature white wine.

Blind Tasting Wine Detective Experience @ Black Hills Estate Winery

BLIND TASTING WINE DETECTIVE EXPERIENCE @ BLACK HILLS ESTATE WINERY - Dan Jones

Taste our wines like you’ve never tasted them before in this unique event.

This NEW Blind Tasting experience is a fun way to explore the wines we make at Black Hills Estate Winery and learn about the art of determining classic wine styles. Plus, if you guess all 7 of the wines we pour that evening, you will win a bottle of one of our delicious wines!

A light charcuterie platter will accompany the wine tasting. Tickets are only $50 + tax, limited to 20 seats. Put your tasting skills to the test!

Call 250-498-0666 to reserve.

Details

Date:
January 18, 2020
Time:
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Cost:
$50
Event Category:

Venue

Black Hills Estate Winery
4190 Black Sage Road
Oliver, BC V0H1T0 Canada 
+ Google Map
Phone:
(250) 498-0666
Website:
https://www.blackhillswinery.com