Spring Wine Festival tries out some new ideas

Even though it’s in its 17th year, there are still new events featured in this year’s Spring Okanagan Wine Festival, which kicks off Thursday for 10 days throughout the valley.

Even though it’s in its 17th year, there are still new events featured in this year’s Spring Okanagan Wine Festival, which kicks off Thursday for 10 days throughout the valley.

Festival organizers Blair Baldwin and Christina Fereira say they’re really looking forward to staging the WestjJet Wine Tastings in the Rotary Centre for the Arts this year for the first time.

Because it’s a larger facility than either the Delta Grand or the Laurel Packinghouse, where it’s been held in the past, and it’s a different shaped space, it will be possible now to set up wineries that are physically grouped, together at the tasting.

For instance, the Naramata wineries will be located in the same area as will the Summerland wineries.

Since they already market themselves as a group, such groupings fit in well with their marketing plans.

This event is April 29 and 30 and will feature more than 50 wineries with more than 180 wines to sample.

The ticket includes a souvenir wine glass, breads and cheeses and a free taxi ride home.

A new event for the festival is the Valley First Vintages in the Park, an outdoor festival at the historic Father Pandosy Mission on Saturday, May 7.

This was held for the first time last year, and was a real hit, so the wine festival society decided to make it an annual event.

Live performances on an outdoor stage provide the ambience, while historic buildings are the backdrop to an afternoon of fine food and wine tasting at the site, where the valley’s wine industry began with a group of vines planted by Father Charles Pandosy, an Oblate priest who made sacramental wine from them.

He is sometimes considered the father of the valley’s wine industry, although his intent was somewhat different from that of today’s winemakers.

This event is 1 to 4 p.m.

Cheese lovers will enjoy All You Need is Cheese…and Some Wine, an event being held by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and local wineries inside the Kelowna Museum, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 6.

All of those are festival-sponsored events, and this year part of the proceeds from them will go toward the Valley First Community Endowment Fund to support hunger and food security projects that target families in need.

Another new event this year is the Fab Five Tailgate Bash at the Pioneer Market where Kelowna’s Camelot Winery, House of Rose, Sperling Vineyards, SpierHead Winery and Vibrant Vines will offer tastes of their wines and the opportunity to meet the proprietors.

Tickets are available at each of the wineries.

For the other events, tickets are available at selectyourtickets.com.

For more details of festival events, go to the website, www.thewinefestivals.com.