For many people 2021 won’t be remembered as a particularly auspicious year as the world continues to grapple with a global pandemic. But for Okanagan Crush Pad it is a year to celebrate. 2021 represents the winery’s 10th anniversary, and after a decade of challenges, change and growth, the irony of having it fall this particular year is not lost on owner Christine Coletta.
The word she uses to best encapsulate the last 10 years? “Wild!” This is especially true when owning a winery was never part of her or husband Steve Lornie’s original intention.“ We started with modest plans for a small vineyard which turned in to a wild journey of winemaking and developing our vineyards. If you had told me ten years ago, we would have built what we have today, I would have thought it completely impossible.”
It’s highly likely most people would agree, except those that know Christine. Her work over the last 30+ years including as a founding member of the BC Wine Institute and BC VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) program, prepared her well for her “impossible” success. Certainly no one in the BC wine industry is surprised.
A decade of new learnings combined with her many years in the industry in various roles have provided Christine with a particularly unique perspective. Her biggest lesson as a winery owner is that one thing leads to another, “A successful wine brand requires more grapes, which requires more land. Increased production requires better winemaking talent and tools and more space and on and on. There is always something new to consider.”
The last 10 years certainly hasn’t been without its challenges and climate change has taken a front seat amid increased concerns over drought and wildfires becoming the norm. But sustainability, both in the vineyards and in the winery, has always been at the heart of what Okanagan Crush Pad embodies.
“The biggest challenge facing all of us is the escalating price of viable vineyard land and the lack of grape supply which will hamper our abilities to grow. On the bright side, it may force us to collectively premiumize, something we have been talking about for 30 years, but have failed to really achieve.”
“As for climate, as farmers, we are always battling mother nature with each year being too hot, too dry, too cold, too wet, or too late or too early. Yes, we have added fires and smoke to that list, but if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. We can manage what nature brings but we can’t control it. We can be kind to our land, farm using sustainable and regenerative practices, and we can do our part to reduce CO2 emissions. It come down to smart farming to manage what each season brings us.”
With a philosophy like that, even more reason to celebrate. When the winery was first constructed in 2011, Christine wanted to include an art mural on the exterior of the building. She is a long-time fan of street art, so the winery commissioned a team of artists to develop a mural meant to represent using creativity and ingenuity as the business worked toward a new direction for Okanagan wine.
To commemorate their 10th anniversary, Okanagan Crush Pad is bringing back one of the original artists on that team, Scott Sueme, to add a new section to the mural meant to represent “turning a corner” in the business, “I have enjoyed following Scott’s career as he started with street art and now has his own studio creating gallery collections.”
“OCP has also commissioned him to do the Narrative and Free Form labels over the years. When I contacted him to add to his original mural work, he asked what I had in mind, “well, we could turn the corner on the original piece and work on the south wall”, I noted. It then occurred to me that we were turning the corner into a new decade for OCP and that the work would be symbolic of that change. We have since decided to redo the original face of the winery as well.”
The public is invited to see Scott bring his art to life on their winery walls August 24th to 29th, details of which can be found here.
As for what the next 10 years holds for Okanagan Crush Pad, Christine tells us, “More vineyard planting at Garnet Valley Ranch, a revised visitor experience, and zeroing in on what we do best, low intervention, organic, Okanagan-inspired wines.”
And Okanagan wine in general? “It takes a village. I’m supported by a group of like-minded winery owners who are always there to help push causes forward and work to make our industry better. I feel very fortunate at this stage in my life to still feel inspired and have the gas in the tank to head into the next decade.”
And what a wild decade it’s shaping up to be…!
16576 Fosbery Rd
Summerland, BC V0H 1Z6
Open 11am to 5pm daily.