The Winter Okanagan Wine Festival started this year on January 13th and ran until January 21nd at Sun Peaks Resort. The festival started 19 years ago as a one day event and has been growing ever since. Seeing over 20 seminar events in the 10 days it was held this year, the event saw a vast majority of the seminars being sold out before they even started. The festival included everything from Blind Tasting to Snow Shoeing, to the best of BC wines and cheeses. Tickets to individual events were offered on the Sun Peaks website.
The festival is hosted by the Okanagan Wine Festival Society in partnership with Tourism Sun Peaks. Planning starts a year in advance and is run by staff members of the Okanagan Wine Festival Society and Tourism Sun Peaks, along with a handful of volunteers. The event almost always sells out with 301 tickets sold to the Wine Craw on Jan. 13 and 600 tickets to the Progressive Jan. 20. Of the events, the Comforts of Grilled Cheese and Wine, and the Three Elements were two fan favorites that sold out quickly this year. Connie Williamson, Tourism Sun Peaks’ Events Manager spoke about the festival.
Williamson says that the events primary focus aside from the wine is to give people another reason to visit the Sun Peaks Resort. If someone is thinking of going, the wine festival may be the nudge they need to attend. The festival also benefits the village and local businesses and artists in the venues. As a not for profit, Tourism Sun Peaks does not profit off of the event, but instead encourages patrons to shop while they attend. The event itself has been expanding every year.
“It has grown substantially since it first began;” Williamson says, “it used to be a one day event now its a ten day event.”
The biggest set back they have come across thus far is accommodations. With more and more events and attendees, they are trying to balance the space and the demand.
“I like it when the events are happening. When you see all the people out and about, and enjoying themselves, I like the excitement in our office when tickets sell out for an event; its a good feeling. Really I like the ambiance and vibe,” Williamson explains.
The event is always looking ahead with plans for next years event already underway. To begin, the event would like to see the Progressive increase to 650 tickets, as well as including more local artists and venues into the mix. Tourism Sun Peaks has also begun planning on a new Wellness Festival aimed to fall on their opening weekend of June 24, more details on that to come. The Spartan Race and Foam Festival are among other events hosted at Sun Peaks and run by third parties.
“Working with a third party organization is fantastic. The Okanagan Wine Festival Society is great to work with because they are so well established. They know what they are doing; to have that collaboration and support makes everything easier,” Williamson said.
Wineries are invited through the Okanagan Wine Festival Society. They donate their time and wine to the events and Sun Peaks Tourism provides them with accommodations and lift passes. Williamson said they do a really good job of getting new wineries to the event.
Check out the other events this year like the Summer Concert Series featuring 54-40 and Trooper at their website: https://www.sunpeaksresort.com/events-things-to-do/events#03/03/2017–03/04/2017
A Few Featured Events:
The 2nd Sun Peaks Wine Crawl. Guests are divided into three different groups and each group will visit three different venues at the resort during the Wine Crawl. At each venue, a different snack is paired with Okanagan wines and set to a theme. Guests will visit the Sun Peaks Grand ballroom where Fresh is Best featured sample their famous tortilla chips and dip; The Hearthstone Lodge featured a fun blind wine and cheese session hosted by Dairy Farmer of Canada; and at the Upper Village Square, patrons enjoyed the outdoors, tasting various types of healthy snacks with wines and Rider Cider.
Informal, relaxed, fun and not too serious. Kelly and the team at the Cahilty Creek Bar & Grill hosted the annual Blind wine tasting where guests tasted several wines and identify their varietals from the choices. Guests tried to identify four different British Columbia red wines and four different British Columbia white wines. The evening was accompanied with great music, delectable appetizers, prizes and lots of fun. Whether you know a little or a lot about wines, the blind wine tasting always levels the playing field.
Sun Peaks Progressive Tasting
WestJet is proud to present this one of a kind event! Imagine tasting wines from 30 different wineries, breathing fresh mountain air in one of the most awarded ski villages in North America, all while enjoying a great social evening! Guests experienced over 100 British Columbia wines with palate cleansing breads and cheeses. This event has attracted over 10,000 customers over the years so come be part of a great winter tradition.