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Remarkable Start to 35th Annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival

With Record Setting 2015 British Columbia Grape Harvest

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – SEPTEMBER 28, 2015: The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is delighted to announce the start of the 35th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival later this week.  The record early beginning to the grape harvest on August 12, 2015, with the first pick of wine grapes, bodes well for another stellar vintage. This marks a spectacular kick off to the 35th festival, from October 1-11, 2015.  The annual celebration is expected to attract over 20,000 visitors who enjoy more than 125 events throughout the Valley, with many of British Columbia’s wineries nearing the end of their harvest due to the phenomenal summer weather and its above average Growing Degree Days and lower than normal precipitation. 

The festivities kick off with the annual British Columbia Wine Awards Reception in Kelowna October 1 - the oldest and largest British Columbia wine competition in the province, followed by two nights of the “Fall WestJet Wine Tastings”, and wrap up Thanksgiving weekend with two new delectable Signature Events – The Valley First “Cropped” – Canada’s largest public tasting of BC wines and authentic farmer’s market in Penticton, and a farm-to-table Sparkling Brunch in Osoyoos at Watermark Beach Resort.

The extra long hot growing season with an unprecedented early start, weeks ahead of the customary picking time, saw one of the warmest and driest springs and summers in the Okanagan.  Not surprisingly some experts predict a surpassing of last year’s record tonnage with more than 38,000 tonnes for the 2015 vintage expected from the 305 licenced wineries in the province (also a new high).  British Columbia wines are also hot with consumers, with the total provincial market share for BC VQA wines this summer up 16.58%.

“With an early start to the spring season in BC, the 2015 growing year was remarkable for its warmth and dry conditions - ideal for ripening both whites and reds,” said Val Tait, General Manager & Winemaker, Bench 1775 Winery.  “Moderate temperatures in the fall slowed fruit development yielding balanced acids and sugars. Wines have the potential to be exceptional where fruit was not picked too early.”

“The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival over the years has been a strong component of the growing economy in the Okanagan Valley. We have an incredible choice of cellar door experiences and range of wine styles, varietals as well as price points with increasingly outstanding experiences and product offerings in the Okanagan Valley,” said Ingrid Jarrett, President of the BC Hotel Association, and General Manager of Watermark Beach Resort.  “The Okanagan Wine Festival events span the Valley – this has resulted in a strong shoulder season for hotels and resorts as well as all the ancillary tourism businesses.”

New this year for the Fall Festival, is the Valley First Cropped – Canada’s largest consumer tasting of BC wines and authentic farmer’s market October 9-10 in Penticton.  A sensory and visual experience, guests will experience the sights, sounds and tastes of a farmer’s market with a “main street” of wares, a small sampling includes the Similkameen’s tasty FarmersDotter Organics and Harker’s Ranch Organics to Summerland’s What the Fungus and Maple Roch, to name a few of the local vendors.  Naturally there will be over 70 BC grape, fruit and mead wineries from across the province, stretching from the Okanagan to the Kootenays.  In keeping with the farmer’s market experience, lively buskers will perform a variety of musical styles.  Also on tap, the Okanagan College Sensory Lab is conducting a Pinot Bar featuring Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. As well, fun and delicious educational seminars on cheese will be held by the Dairy Farmer’s of Canada. The largest Signature event in the Valley, Cropped is a Get Home Safe event.

Savour the terroir of the Okanagan’s iconic tastemakers with wine and culinary experiences for every palate at Cropped.  A feast for the eyes as well as the senses, this bounty-filled region offers intimate settings with the tastemakers that have not only built our craft industries but those poised on the leading edge of change. Event and ticket information for the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival is available at www.thewinefestivals.com.

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Suggested tweet: Record setting #BCWine harvest sees remarkable start to 35th Fall @OKWineFests. Get tix 125+ events thruout #Okanagan http://ow.ly/SKQE1

About Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is responsible for the development of the wine tourism sector in the interior of British Columbia. It is well known for producing two annual Okanagan Wine Festivals in spring to celebrate the bud break and in fall to celebrate the grape harvest. Its Winter Okanagan Wine Festival is run in partnership with Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops. It is also responsible for Signature Wine Events including Mile High Wine & Music at Silver Star and two annual wine judging competitions including the British Columbia Wine Awards. www.thewinefestivals.com

For media inquiries, please contact:

Lori Pike-Raffan, PR Director, Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

[email protected] / 604.808.6655

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