A desolate 10 acres of land north of Oliver, B.C., has been transformed into a bustling microcosm of start-up wineries, a brewery and an eatery.
Sixteen miniature production facilities and tasting rooms, dubbed the Oliver Wine Village, surround a sunken 600-person amphitheatre, designed for the ultimate entertainment experience.
What’s sure to become B.C.’s next major tourism destination, the project is the brainchild of Matt Kenyon, who is also the general manager of Greyback Construction.
The land is leased from the Osoyoos Indian Band land and is located off of Highway 97 on Enterprise Way.
“We really wanted to do a wine village in the South Okanagan to highlight the wineries and the quality artisan producers and culture, Kenyon told Global News.
“The vision was sixteen artisanal producers from wine and beer and spirits and food to all come together in a communal space.”
Greyback Construction broke ground on the project in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic caused upheaval in the lives of British Columbians.
“When we launched the project 16-18 months ago we had huge interest and then we rolled straight into the COVID-19 pandemic shortly after we broke ground, so you can imagine my stress levels back in March,” Kenyon said.
Kenyon said it’s the first wine village of its kind in Canada.
“Not only are we creating a diverse community for our resident wineries, cideries, breweries, distilleries and eateries, but we are really looking to be a significant economic driver for our local communities and support the future growth of wine and culinary tourism in the South Okanagan,” he said.
Eight small-lot producers have signed three to five-year leases to operate at the village and Kenyon imagines that number will double by this fall.
Each of the 16 individual spaces offers operators a production facility that includes access to a shared crush pad and operational resources, as well as a built-in tasting room to build their
In addition to the on-site tasting rooms, District Wine Village will also feature a 600-person entertainment centre for concerts and events, as well as on-site culinary offerings to give guests a truly distinct taste of the Okanagan.
The village is an incubator of innovation.
“At district wine village they are supplying the tanks, buildings, the infrastructure, and our capital costs are minimalized,” said Michael Daley, Gneiss Winery partner and director of development operations at the village.
“We bring in our own barrel program, our own brand, our own grapes, and it gives us a lesser starting point to get into the marketplace.”
The micro-village concept gives small-batch producers a fighting chance to become successful in an already saturated market that usually involves a significant upfront capital investment.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity for us,” said Jason Armitage, the head brewer at Trading Post Brewery.
“We are a brewery in the middle of wine country, so it’s being able to bring that sense of community to the table.”
The village held a soft opening on Wednesday and it officially opens to the public on July 1.
Drop-ins are welcome and reservations are not required.
To learn more about District Wine Village, visit DistrictWineVillage.com.