Naramata Wine Vault announced #BCWine2017Top10

#BCWine2017Top10: Number 7

For a decade, about 4.6 acres of commercial property has sat idle just off the main drag in the tiny Village of Naramata, about 15 kilometres north of Penticton. Many described it as an eyesore, and even some fondly remember it as a hub of the Okanagan’s agricultural past, or a sign of the region’s decline. As the Naramata Bench is perhaps our favourite wine destination in B.C. — we vacation here every summer — we would only see the old BC Tree Fruits packing house property when we would visit the local Wednesday night market.

Photo depicting the envisioned Naramata Wine Vault

Now the old warehouse and surrounding property has been sold to a group who are interested in ultimately making it a new wine and beverage attraction for Okanagan wine travelers. David Enns, co-founder of Laughing Stock Vineyards on the Bench, along with partners Mik Ball, Robert Gritten and Steven Jaeger have announced plans to establish the Naramata Wine Vault at the location.

It is a truly exciting opportunity for Naramata Bench wineries, the local economy, and could potentially be a driver of change with our liquor regulations.

This is why we have chosen the Naramata Wine Vault as Number 7 on our Top Ten BC Wine stories of 2017 (#BCWine2017Top10).

From the news release issued by Enns & co.:

“The Naramata Wine Vault will provide storage and support for the 35 plus wineries, distilleries and cider operations located on the Naramata Bench. … Redevelopment plans for the cold storage building include: new electrical, new climate control, energy efficient lighting, and site and building security. A facelift of the business end of the building will tastefully update the facility and bring it into the modern age.

“As planning progresses, the balance of the lands will be developed to ensure the charm and unique nature of the Village of Naramata is maintained.

“The group hopes to have the storage business up and running in the spring of 2018.”

Video report by Castanet News

David Enns in an interview with wine writer Tim Pawsey called the warehouse a “white elephant for ten years. And we’re going to change that.”

The newly branded Naramata Wine Vault will revitalize the 27,000 square foot packinghouse to provide a much needed new cold-storage facility for wineries, distilleries and cider operations in Naramata. The building has been divided into 12 storage rooms of 1,800 square feet each. Many small wineries run out of room for storage.

David Enns

“It’s not going to be a production facility ever, but it will be accessible to commercial trade on the Naramata Bench, which is 35+ wineries,” Enns told Okanagan Edge news.

Enns’ partner Robert Gritten told Kelowna’s they have other ambitions for the acreage.

“I think you’ll see mixed use commercial and residential for the rest of the property,” Gritten says, but adds the group is presently concentrating on organizing the storage facility and generating some cash flow before moving on with the rest of the property.

What makes this a more exciting venture is if the Naramata Wine Vault becomes more than just a storage facility, and becomes more of a secondary tasting room like we see in Woodinville, Washington. Secondary tasting rooms were among the recommendations (see: recommendation 33) of the previous B.C. government, but they are currently not allowed under our current antiquated liquor laws.

Allowing secondary tasting rooms could be a huge boon to the economies of several of the province’s communities in the Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, among other places. With luck, B.C.’s new government Minister in charge of the liquor file, the Hon. David Eby, will see this as a long overdue opportunity to reform liquor laws here, and as a driver of economic growth.