Winefest events selling out

Attendance at this year's Spring Okanagan Wine Festival is up from last year, with many events selling out.

Attendance for the first half of the 18th annual Spring Okanagan Wine Festival has re-bounded after a couple of slower years, reports Blair Baldwin, one of the organizers.

Last Saturday’s Westjet Wine Tastings sold out, as have a number of other events, he reports.

And, he says there are a ‘head-turning” number of younger people at events, people in the 20 to 35-year-old age range who wanted to learn about wines.

“They want a more fun experience, so the addition of a digital photo booth and breaking the event up into rooms by the valley’s wine areas worked very well,” he noted. For instance, there were the Bottleneck Drive group from Summerland, the Naramata Bench wineries and the West Kelowna Wine Trail were grouped together as they are geographically.

“We’re tickled pink,” he commented.

Golf and ski tourism also took a dip last year, and the Westjet event didn’t sell out on the Saturday night last year.

In addition to more people than ever before at the two-day flagship event, there were more wineries participating than ever before, with 60 out each night to share tastings with visitors.

Baldwin said wineries that have taken the time to plan an event are doing well during this year’s 10-day event; those that innovate.

For instance, Gray Monk’s celebration of its 30-year anniversary of operating the winery, 40 years of growing grapes and 50th wedding anniversary of Trudy and George, with a six-course feast featuring the work of six local chefs and appropriate wine pairings is sold out, he said.

Also, the new Discover the Lakeshore Wine Route, a collaboration of four Mission-area wineries offering tastings with appetizers last Saturday sold out, he noted.

“Those that are telling a story and creating an interesting event are doing well. You can’t just say ‘we’re open,’” he commented.

The annual spring festival continues this weekend with such events as the Cove Resort’s Red, Whites and Blues and Summerhill’s Fertility Festival on Friday; a cellar dinner, dancing and Winemaker’s Olympics at The View Winery, WAM! Wine, Art and Music at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Volcanic Hills’ birthday bash Saturday, and a couple of special Mom’s Day events at Camelot Vineyards and House of Rose Winery on the weekend.

For details, go to the website at: www.thewinefestivals.com or pick up a brochure where wine is sold.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com