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Okanagan's Summer Wine Festival adds flavour to lively weekend

The valley's biggest wine festival will launch Friday, allowing locals  and tourists alike to immerse themselves in the diverse flavours of the Okanagan.

"The Summer Wine Festival is our third of four annual Okanagan Wine Festivals, and the positioning  is  designed to attract the peak summer tourists," explained Blair Baldwin, of the  Okanagan Wine Festivals society.

It's the newest addition to the catalogue of wine festivals—having been held just once before—and, as such, organizers decided to ensure it offered a fresh experience.

While the fall festival is known for being one of the top events of its kind in North America for allowing visitors to experience wine culture during harvest, the summer version will capitalize on partnerships.

This year, for example, Axel Merckx's Granfondo event in Penticton will benefit from the valley's vintages.

"This Sunday 2,600 riders for cycling events from around the world are coming to Penticton to ride ," Baldwin said.

"In Europe Granfondos traditionally are followed by an  outdoor party .. Participants go home, have a massage, a rest and go out to party. It's classic."

Building on tradition, they partnered with the Granfondo and organized an event that will blend wine, food and music at Gyro Park.

In Kelowna, an equally savvy partnership will  roll out.

Knowing that the Keloha festival will likely be the stomping ground for younger residents and visitors, the local leg of the event will offer a mature take on entertainment.

"We're holding Pop Goes the Cork in the Rotary Arts area," he explained.

The artist hired to entertain as wine is sipped and local nosh is dished out "won't rock the joint" with his soulful jazz, but he will entertain.

"It's just another example of offering something for people looking for something to do."

Luckily, he said, the weather forecast is looking amazing, which means that it should be a big success.

Hopefully, he said, taht will be felt in the coffers of local businesses.

As is Okanagan wine festivals offer a economic boon to the valley.

"Revenues of ticket sales at 150 events and wine sales during 10 days amounted to $4.74 million," he said, noting those figures were collected in 2010.

That figure excludes and revenues garnered from hotel and restaurant  revenues.

"If you think 30 years ago, people thought the local wine industry was built so grape growers would be justified crying into their (drinks) —that's great," he said, adding the key to success is looking for fresh ideas and adapting around core values.

"There are opportunities."

For more events go to http://www.thewinefestivals.com/the_summer_okanagan_wine_festival/

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