New plans for Tranquille Sanitorium farmland on Kamloops Lake include vineyards and winery
The Tranquille Sanitorium property just west of Kamloops may appear abandoned, but plans for the future are taking root as the current owners and residents partner with one of Canada's largest wine companies.
Over two years, Andrew Peller Ltd will study the area's micro climate at the Tranquille site along the shores of Kamloops Lake before deciding whether it will plant vineyards in the area.
If conditions are favourable, Tim McLeod of Ignition Tranquille Developments said it would then be another four years, at least, before grapes are ready to be picked for wines.
McLeod and his company have been developing plans for a subdivision and "agri-village" on the Tranquille Sanitorium site for years.
He lives on the property with his wife, where the Tranquille site once hosted a community of its own, along with a farm and the Tranquille Sanitorium hospital.
It's best known as a former tuberculosis hospital then a psychiatric institution, but it was also a community with a large farm. McLeod wants to return the property to its agricultural roots by mixing a winery, farm and a new residential development into the area.
Kirk Seggie, of Andrew Peller Ltd, said it is the wine company's first move into the Thompson valley, and he's hopeful for the future of the region.
"Having the wineries here and growing grapes here shows us it can be done," he said, adding that the issue for the region is cold Kamloops winters.
"And there's different varieties... that are more sensitive than others."
Seggie said the two-year climate study will help determine which grape varieties will be best for the Tranquille property, which can depend on the growing season length. But it also depends on micro climate factors like how the wind moves over the geography of the more than 200-acre property.
Andrew Peller owns several wineries across Canada with five in the Okanagan, including Wayne Gretzky Estates, Sandhill and Red Rooster Winery.
While there are already some wineries in the Kamloops area including Monte Creek, Privato and Harper's Trail Estate, Andrew Peller's move into the region signals interest from larger companies that already have a strong foothold in the established Okanagan region.
Seggie said part of that interest is because of the shrinking availability of vineyard land in the Okanagan, along with high real estate costs.
"With the Tournament Capital of Canada, you have an opportunity," he said, looking forward to the tourist opportunities in Kamloops for the possible future winery.
McLeod said the Tranquille on the Lake development is still very much planned for the area, but his company is waiting on an Agricultural Land Commission decision before moving ahead with the City of Kamloops to develop the area.
The Tranquille site is at the western border of the city at 4600 Tranquille Road.
While there are dozens of historic buildings on the property, McLeod said there is very little that will be left standing once work eventually starts. The historic barn will likely stay, but the old homes and hospital buildings are largely in disrepair are not heritage buildings, so they can be demolished in the process.
He added, however, that the development process would include recycling as much of the old buildings as possible.
— This story was originally published at 6 a.m. May 31, 2022.
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