A Benchmark of Sustainability in the BC Wine Industry

5 Defining Traits that salute the Ecotourism of the Okanagan


The wine industry in the Okanagan is booming, and as with any agriculture-based industry, a coefficient relationship with the land that is being cultivated is integral.

When it comes to walking the ‘sustainability’ and ‘eco-friendly’ walk, few do it to the same standard as Off The Grid Organic Winery. This post details five reasons that make Off The Grid a can’t-miss ecotourism destination during your Thompson Okanagan visit.


The Animals

The most unique aspect of Off The Grid is that they are a certified rescue for the SPCA (B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). They take private rescues, as well. Their property allows them to house a variety of animals, including goats, rabbits, chickens, and sheep!

This isn’t just an animal sanctuary, though. These furry friends work for their room + board. The fertilizer used in the vineyard is made from manure produced by the animals! The goats graze on the hillside and the roof (yes, they have a grass roof!), eliminating the need for weeding, and the chickens are responsible for bug control all over the property.


Tasting Room

The actual building the wine shop operates out of is distinct itself. At first sight, the building isn’t going to make your jaw drop, but as you take a closer look, the sustainable approach to the tasting room is remarkable. Solar panels line one side of the roof, while a natural grass-bed lines the other, and both are complimented by a pergola roof made with recycled tin from Westbank’s original hardware store. The walls, which are straw-baled, combine with a water reservoir under the grass part of the roof to naturally regulate the building’s temperature.


Off The Grid

The winery’s namesake was the goal the proprietors had set for themselves prior to start up, every aspect of the tasting room was designed with a purpose. Off The Grid is meant to be a self-sustaining establishment which nurtures its environment instead of depleting it. Unfortunately, West Kelowna by-laws don’t allow for buildings to be fully ‘off the grid.’ The tasting room technically uses power from the grid, but their solar panels produce enough energy that they are able to sell it back to BC Hydro and net out at $0.


Vineyard/Production

Since their inception, Off The Grid has met the operational standard of organic certification, but are attempting to gain the title for the first time this year. The aforementioned fertilizer is a mix of manure and unused wood chips from a local company, Action Tree. The wine itself is 100% vegan and uses organic yeast. The 5-year plan is to create an underground production facility in the hillside they operate on that will be ‘off the grid.’ The facility will use gravity to produce the wine, which minimizes the need for electricity in pumps and temperature regulation. This results in less environmental impact and a superior product.


On-site Extracurriculars

The winery hosts community outdoor yoga classes every Sunday with a fee of $10. The fee goes towards the adoption and maintenance of their animals. A yoga lesson + tasting option is also available for anyone interested in a unique private event. The vineyard has played host to several weddings, as the view speaks for itself! Lastly, there’s the on-site food truck, Round and Sharp. Round and Sharp’s mantra of sustainable eats is aided by using less plastic, a plant-based menu, compostable containers, and kitchen scraps going to the animals.

6.jpg

There are so many sustainable (and regular) quirks to this winery that it is difficult to encapsulate them all in one article. Whether it’s the majority of the residents being named after Friends characters or wooden features on the building that were repurposed from a Boy Scouts cabin that was originally on the land, you’re going to be telling your friends about this place. Did I mention the wine is pretty incredible too?


Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 16.12.33.jpg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darnel St.Pierre is a Communications student at Simon Fraser University, while playing for the University’s hockey team. Darnel has had stops in Revelstoke, Nelson, and Vancouver over the years but the Okanagan is home in the summer. Darnel enjoys reading poolside and discovering new wineries.

IG @darnel.stpierre