Appreciation for quality and demand for Okanagan wine driving vineyard purchases
PENTICTON - A Naramata-based, family-owned winery that has received accolades for its wine is the latest of several wineries in the Okanagan to change hands this year.
Arterra Wines Canada announced yesterday, Nov. 28, the purchase of Laughing Stock Vineyards, founded in 2003 by David and Cynthia Enns on the Naramata Bench.
Tuesday’s purchase announcement is the most recent in a series of high profile vineyard acquisitions in the Okanagan this year, adding to previous announcements by Andrew Peller Ltd., which purchased Black Hills Estate, Tinhorn Creek and Grey Monk wineries in a $95 million deal, announced in early September, and Phantom Creek Estates, which announced the construction of a $100 million dollar winery in July, and the acquisition of a 63 acre vineyard property in Oliver’s Golden Mile Bench earlier this month.
“Sometimes things happen in bunches, for no real reason, and I think this is just an appreciation for the terroir the Okanagan Valley delivers for quality wines in demand by consumers,” says Arterra Wines Canada President and CEO Jay Wright.
Wright says his company’s research reveals for the first time, Millennials are drinking more wine than prior generations, including Generation X (1961-1981). Only baby boomers drink more.
“Millennials are teaching us that authenticity, drinking and eating local is really important, so I’m a big believer in the potential for wine and local food and tourism in the Okanagan. I’m very bullish on that and it sounds like my competitors and folks from other parts of the world are, too, who see Canada as a special place and the Okanagan as a gem within a great country,” Wright says, adding the company has been looking for property on the Naramata Bench for some time and is lucky to partner with the Enns.
“We have a 30 year history of wineries in the Okanagan, with Inkameep Cellars, Black Sage Vineyard, Sumac Ridge, See Ya Later Ranch, so we do have a deep rooted history and investment in the Okanagan,” said Arterra Wines Canada’s Michelle Saba, adding the company employs 500 people in British Columbia.
"We started Laughing Stock Vineyards to create a premium, boutique Naramata Bench winery and after a decade and a half, we reached a tipping point both in terms of scale and demand. We made the decision to partner with Arterra Wines Canada because of their commitment to maintaining the integrity and quality of our wines and their solid history in the Okanagan," David and Cynthia Enns said in a press release.
The acquisition represents Arterra’s first foray into wineries on the Naramata Bench.
Wright declined to reveal the sale price for the winery, which is expected to close Dec.1.
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