Other wine communities in the country might be crushed to hear the Town of Oliver has held onto the prestigious Wine Capital of Canada designation.
The issue of the trademarked slogan was uncorked around the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen table Thursday.
It turns out the trademark isn’t that old, dating back to just the early 2000s, when an Oliver and District Economic Commission (representing Oliver and Area C) received the trademark rights to call Oliver the Wine Capital of Canada.
Several years later the commission folded meaning the trademark — Wine Capital of Canada — ownership reverted to the RDOS because it was a shared service paid for by taxpayers in Oliver and Area C.
The Town of Oliver recently decided they wanted the ownership of the trademark directly, which is probably a good thing as at least one director joked about opening the trademark up to a bidding war.
Karla Kozakevich, chair of the RDOS, and Area E (Naramata) representative, in jest suggested areas have a chance to bid on the trademark, but noted her area, which has about 30 wineries, would love the name Wine Capital of Canada.
“They did create that a long time ago. I always thought for years and years, every time I drive into Oliver, I see their sign and I thought who gave them that designation. Where did they get that? Why is Naramata not the wine capital?”
She joked perhaps Naramata should trademark “Second Wine Capital of Canada,” and also suggested areas start looking at trademarks that might fit their communities, “before they are all gone.”
Ron Hovanes, mayor of Oliver, said at the time the town received the trademark many other communities were upset.
“Kelowna and Niagara were not too impressed at the time,” he said. “The trademark has Royal assent from the Queen who actually signed off on this, so it’s pretty prestigious.”
Prior to being known as the wine capital, Oliver was known as the Cantaloupes Capital of Canada.
In good spirits, directors including Michael Brydon, Area F (Okanagan Lake/West Bench), joked around about future branding for Oliver as work is underway now to build a large scale medical marijuana facility on Osoyoos Indian Band land near Oliver.
“If we get something on the Osoyoos Indian Band we will be Wine and Dope Capital of Canada,” he said.
Hovanes said a committee is currently undertaking a rebranding initiative.
“We’re still having discussions, but we’ve had stuff brought forward to the committee and we’re looking at the current working brand, a peach and grapes … and one of the conversations was maybe we should have a marijuana leaf on there.”
Currently in the Oliver area there are about 35 wineries in operation and an over $100 million winery called Phantom Creek is under construction.
“I definitely think we’re worthy of the designation,” Terry Schaeffer, director for Area C (Rural Oliver) said after the meeting.
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