Wine and Dine event brings life to Okanagan restaurants

Business is far from booming at Okanagan restaurants when the calendar year begins.

"It's a difficult time for this industry," said  Sia Koutsantonis, part-owner of Olympia Greek Taverna on Highway 33.

That said, there's a growing silver lining around what has traditionally been the dull spot in the year.

The Wine and Dine promotion, which was launched Tuesday night with a sampling extravaganza, gets the industry a much needed push in the right direction.

Until Feb. 2, 34 of the 50 restaurants across the Thompson-Okanagan will highlight how they contribute to the region's diverse gastronomic scene by offering three course dinners at a cost of $15, $25, or $35.

It's a promotion that's paid off in spades, so far.

"We hear from lots of people who come in and tell us 'I've never been here before'," said Chris Koutsantonis, who was serving up succulent slices of lamb Tuesday night,  with a slice of pita and tzatziki.

From that point on, a faithful customer is born.

It's a phenomenon that the staff behind La Busola hope to capitalize on.

The Coccaro family has owned the downtown Kelowna restaurant for 40 years, but it's not until this year that they've figured it worthwhile to open  their doors to customers in January.

"This allows us to get involved in the community," said Luigi Coccaro, of the Wine and Dine event.

It also allows them an opportunity to showcase their extensive wine list, which they pair with various menu items.

Wineries also benefit from the event that is largely viewed as a restaurant promotion, explained Tim Turta from Meyer Family Vineyards.

While pouring glass after glass of the winery's finest at the launch event, he said "any exposure is good exposure."

"This has a great impact for us," he said. "People enjoy our wines, they tell one person, and they tell another."

By the time the summer rolls around, and wine tourism is in full swing, Turta gets to find out exactly how much the annual event impacts his bottom line.

Around 17,000 people are expected to take take part in the event. For a list of participating restaurants, see

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