OLIVER - The Oliver area is adding to its growing reputation as a destination for upscale tourism with the introduction of a prestigious new winery.
Phantom Creek Estates has global aspirations in the wine business, according to president Ingo Grady who spoke to the Regional District board of directors yesterday, July 20.
The $100 million dollar winery, which includes a restaurant and amphitheatre, is currently under construction on Black Sage Road south of Oliver. The price tag includes land, land to be purchased and winery construction.
Grady says the new winery will complement the recently opened Area 27 Formula One racetrack nearby, adding to the amenities within a short distance for the upscale clientele using the track. He says the “well resourced, well thought out project" is two years in the making.
The cost of the winery’s building permit - $270,000 - was a primary reason for the Regional District’s huge surplus in building fee revenue in the first quarter.
Grady says Oliver’s Black Sage Road threatens to become the Siverado Trail of the Okanagan. The Silverado Trail is in Calfornia's wine region, the Napa Valley.
Phantom Creek Estates is owned by Richter Bai, a Chinese immigrant to Canada who arrived in 2013, with his wife and four children.
“Mr. Bai is not your stereotypical Chinese industrialist. He’s more Dali Lama-like, a practised Buddhist, very spiritual, very kind, very generous,” Grady says.
He says the winery owner is committed to creating a legacy via “significant initial and long term investment in the South Okanagan wine community.”
Grady says surveys reveal Canadians are increasingly drinking more and better wine.
“We’re producing more, consuming more and we’re premiumizing,” he says.
The land selling for viticultural purposes is now selling for $200,000 an acre as opposed to $3,000 an acre 20 years ago, he says.
Grady says start up costs are formidable so the notion of a couple retiring to the Okanagan to grow grapes on a couple of acres would need at least a couple of million dollars.
“In terms of economic impact and job creation, I expect to have 100 seasonal employees between May and October, with core staff topping out at 45 to 50,” he says.
The winery has acquired historic pedigree vineyards in the area, including Monshee Vineyard, Sundial (now Suncatcher) Vineyard and Phantom Creek, which has produced more best Canadian red wines than any other vineyard in Canada, according to Grady. The winery will concentrate on growing Syrah and Bordeux blends.
A 100 ton crush completed in 2016 is scheduled for release upon opening of the 72,000 square foot winery in 2019. Phantom Creek Estates eventually plans to sell 60 per cent of their wine with direct marketing, with prices between $30 to $100 per bottle.
Grady says a significant number of the winery's guest will be arriving in private jets, and will be in the same demographic as Area 27 clientele. He said much of the winery’s marketing is being focused on Seattle and area.
“Phantom Creek is a glimpse of the future, built for global recognition. This area rivals any region in the world."
— This article was updated at 4:20 p.m. July 21 to correct the land price for vineyard property from $20,000 to $200,000 an acre. Thanks to Armindo Rosa Lopes for spotting the mistake.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.