Updated: Wondering where the wine is at Kelowna’s farmers’ market?

"We can't let the wineries in until we have the OK from the city."

The Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market is always a hit

The Kelowna Crafters’ and Farmers’ Market is arguably the most popular Saturday morning attraction in the city, but there’s one thing that could make it even more appealing.

Market president Martin Miller said Saturday that he’s continually fielding requests from visitors wanting to know why the market doesn’t offer winery samplings. Kelowna, after all, is a key player in Canada’s wine industry.

“Every week they’re asking me,” he said. “We want to, but we can’t let the wineries in until we have the OK from the city. ..they already have it in Penticton and Winfield, and there it’s been a great success,” he said.

The city will have to hold a public hearing for that to happen, and they’ll need an application from the market to go through the process.

According to Ryan Smith, the city’s urban planning manager, it’s an application staff have been eagerly anticipating for months.

They’re currently working with the market manager to get the required licensing. Once the application is in, it’s expected to take around eight weeks to jump through all the right hoops, meaning summer season has likely been a missed opportunity for the market to feature local wineries.

The Liquor Policy Review recommendation to allow licensed manufacturers of beer, wine, cider and spirits to sell their products at B.C. farmers’ markets was implemented on June 21.

To date, more than 100 B.C. liquor manufacturers have now set up at farmers’  markets in over 40 different communities around B.C. Many of which don’t have any discernible relationship with the wine industry, unlike Kelowna.

The advantage, says the provincial government, is  the opportunity to build face-to-face relationships with  their customers, provide tasting notes and offer samples and first- hand product knowledge.

Jon Bell, president, BC Association of Farmers’ Markets noted that it’s an extension of the eat and buy local ethos that’s swept the nation.

“Linking consumers and farmers with knowledge and understanding of food production is at the heart of all farmers’ markets,” he said. “The addition  of liquor sales at B.C. farmers’ markets is a great extension of the  Buy Local and Make it, Bake it, Grow it, philosophies. These recent  changes have been seen as positive by vendors and customers.”

B.C. currently has 275 wineries, 89 breweries and 37 distilleries. More than 100 of a total 403 manufacturers that are licensed have applied to sell their product at a farmer’s market – that is approximately 25 per cent of all B.C. manufacturers already taking advantage  of this opportunity.

For more information on why the market isn’t able to capitalize on this opportunity and what the involvement of the city is, check back at kelownacapnews.com on Monday.

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