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Construction work for Vernon winery on hold due to flooding concerns

FILE PHOTO - Construction work taking place on land recently purchased by Markus Frind, July 31, 2020.
FILE PHOTO - Construction work taking place on land recently purchased by Markus Frind, July 31, 2020.

Plans to make Vernon a world-class wine destination are currently paused as city workers address flooding issues.

Following precipitation events early this year, the City of Vernon was contacted by Bella Vista Road residents about overland flow issues.

READ MORE: A tech entrepreneur plans to make Vernon a world-class destination for wine lovers

Site clearing work being done in the area for tech entrepreneur Markus Frind’s new winery was put on hold as city workers ensure site work meets bylaw requirements, including addressing issues that may arise during the site preparation process, according to a press release issued by the city, Feb. 5.

Four months later, only limited work is permitted on the property, including monitoring and managing runoff from the site as well as some planting and irrigation. Some equipment will be on site for these purposes, said Kevin Poole, director of community safety, lands and administration, via email.

“At such time as all permitting requirements are met, the property owner will be able to resume full work activities on the site,” he said. The city is still working with Frind on stormwater management plans.

Any issues impacting neighbouring properties arising from development activities are the responsibility of the developer, according to the city.

With the Okanagan Valley having more than 80 per cent of the entire province's vineyard acreage and boasting close to 200 wineries, residents from Lake Country to Osoyoos don't have to venture far to find a winery.

However, in Vernon, that’s not the case, as it has no wineries and only a few vineyards. 

READ MORE: Why Vernon doesn't have any wineries... yet

Frind, online dating site Plenty of Fish founder and owner of West Kelowna's Frind Estate Winery, is planning to change that.

"I am fairly confident that the vineyard I'm putting up in Vernon will be one of... the most beautiful vineyards in the world," Frind said in a previous interview with iNFOnews.ca. "The views from the top of the mountain are the most stunning views I've ever seen in Canada."

Frind bought around 800 acres in Vernon at $14,000 an acre, without water, and paid $65,000 an acre for the 80 acres south of Bella Vista which have irrigation. 

At the time, he hoped to uncork the vineyard's first mini harvest in about two years and estimated it would take five years to meet full production. He believes he can ripen cabernet sauvignon, one of the hardest grapes to ripen, that’s typically found in the South Okanagan, and said the area near the lake is actually warmer than Summerland or Naramata.

If the cab sav doesn't take off, he's confident other varieties like merlot and cabernet franc will.

Frind could not be immediately reached for comment.


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