Okanagan Crush Pad Winery in Summerland features all the common elements of a boutique winery.
A stunning location overlooking Okanagan Lake. A small but obviously well-kept array of grapes. A seemingly utilitarian but hardly unattractive building that fits well into the surrounding countryside.
But what differentiates Crush Pad located on a 10-acre property known as Switchback Vineyard becomes apparent once one steps inside the building — a six pack of fermenting barrels that from a distance look like oversized eggs. Aligned in a straight row, they might not be out of place on the set of a science fiction flick.
These eggs, which stand up about eight feet tall, are made out of concrete. Its porousness allows the wine within the eggs to breathe, gently diffusing oxygen, just as oak barrels might, but without the oaky flavour. This neutrality is said to gives wines from Okanagan Crush Pad more fruit expression and greater richness. The ‘eggs’ also permit greater temperature control.
Okanagan Crush Pad is the first winery in Canada to use the egg-shaped concrete fermenters in offering a selection of wines under the Haywire, Bartier-Scholefield, and Bartier Bros. labels.
But this line-up does not capture the totality of the impact which Crush Pad Winery has on the local wine industry. In addition to producing its own wines, the facility also serves as a production facility for aspiring winery owners, who might have vineyard but lack the facilities.
As Christine Coletta, who owns Crush Pad Winery with her husband Steve Lornie, notes most people who want to get into the business of making and selling wines comes from other sectors.
As such, they need to place where they could get the necessary help.
“We realize that there was no place where that this could be done,” she says.
To this end, Crush Pad Winery offers a wide range of production, branding and marketing services in being Canada’s first facility of this kind.
Coletta, whose resume has seen her work with numerous wines in the Okanagan and elsewhere, says she has no problems in fostering aspiring winemakers, who might one day become competitors.
“I don’t view any of my neighbours as competitors,” she says. “My competitors come from other countries, not here.”
Services that improve the quality of wines coming from the Okanagan benefit the entire industry by adding to its reputation, she says. In that sense, she hopes that Crush Pad Winery will become a centre of learning, a “coworking space for winemakers to work side by side to share ideas and to collaborate” as the winery notes in one of its informational packages.
“To me, I’m hoping that this will become a place where other people can feel welcome.”