Penticton MLA Dan Ashton

Elephant Island explores new territory

Thanks to an investment from the provincial government, the Elephant Island Winery is exploring ciders through its sister company.

Elephant Island Winery has been given a hand from the province to expand into the world of ciders.

The 15-year-old Naramata vineyard has sprouted a new branch to begin offering cider.

Elephant Island Winery saw an investment it made of $15,497 doubled by the provincial government, which was in support of the launch of its sister company Naramata Cider Company. To further capitalize on the harvests in the Okanagan, the ciders will be produced with 100 per cent locally-grown fruit.

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton was at the winery to cut the cheque on May 8. The funding came through the province’s Buy Local program, which has been active since 2012 to promote the sales of locally grown and produced food throughout B.C.

“What they’ve done here is absolutely stunning,” he told the Western News. “The opportunity presented here is unbelievable, and the government recognizes it – and recognizes people like (co-owners) Del and Miranda Halladay who are taking that next step.”

Ashton said in the United States, growth in the cider industry is outstripping the growth of wine, and those trends often make their way north.

“We have the fruit, we have the talent with people like this, and we have the opportunity to represent these ciders and wineries in a much larger market,” Ashton said.

The grant will help develop the brand’s online marketing abilities as well as promote brand awareness. Buy Local supports the demand for gluten-free products, which the province said is undergoing an “insatiable” demand.

Del said the new cider product is currently only available from stands at the Penticton and Naramata farmers’ markets as well as through their website. Talks with a retail distributor are underway.

“Elephant Island Winery and Naramata Cider Co. are honoured to be recipients of Buy Local funding,” the couple said in a joint statement. “As committed members of our own local community we see the investment as an opportunity to not only increase awareness of our own wines and ciders, but to spread the mantra and share a taste of our friends and neighbours throughout B.C. who are growing, harvesting and proceeding exceptional B.C. food and beverages. We look forward to showcasing unparalleled B.C. taste in a number of events throughout B.C. By matching our own investment, these dollars are allowing us into markets that have previously been unattainable.”

Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick also weighed in on the investment.

“Elephant Island offers unique flavours that bring the taste of B.C. to its consumers. Today, with the advantages of social media and online purchasing, the opportunities to reach new markets and to promote products are limitless. The Buy Local program allows for local businesses to reach above and beyond their potential.”

Businesses interested in the Buy Local program can learn more through iafbc.ca.