The Okanagan Wine and Culinary Tourism Conference will run October 17 to 20 in Kelowna. - Image: Pixabay

Conference looks to future of Okanagan wine, culinary tourism

Experts from 12 different countries will speak at the first of its kind event in Kelowna in October

Experts from the Okanagan wine and culinary tourism industry will be well represented at a conference in Kelowna this October about the future of food and wine tourism.

Wine and Culinary Tourism Futures is a first of its kind conference and will bring together a wide range of specialists, many from the Okanagan Valley, to share ideas and practices on the transformational possibilities of the evolving travel market.

International experts from 12 different countries will share their expertise in keynote addresses and in panel discussion during the concurrent sessions that run over four days.

“It’s exciting to have speakers from as far away as Germany and Australia be a part of the same discussions as local stakeholders like Howard Soon and Rhys Pender,” said John Hull, associate professor of tourism at Thompson Rivers University and conference co-chair. “It shows that the Okanagan really can compete on the international stage when it comes to food and wine.”

Howard Soon, who recently retired as head winemaker at Sandhill Wines, will open the conference with the keynote address. Soon is considered a pioneer in the B.C. wine industry and is Canada’s longest serving winemaker. He was the first BC winemaker to receive a Gold Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde in France and, while at Sandhill, became the first winemaker in history to receive all 3 top honours at the 2009 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards – Best Red Wine of the Year, Best White Wine of the Year and Winery of the Year.

Similkameen based educator and Master of Wine Rhys Pender will also give a keynote address at the conference. Other local speakers include chef, restaurant owner, author and BC Restaurant Hall of Fame inductee Rod Butters and Miles Prodan executive director or the BC Wine Institute, co-presenters of the conference.

“The Wine and Culinary Tourism Futures Conference goal is to promote and increase dialogue, foster communication and increase collaboration between academia and industry on a global scale ensuring a positive future for the industry,” said Donna Senese, associate professor of geography and conference co-chair. “As the host city, it makes sense to have the expertise from this region as part of the conference presenters.”

Registration is open for the conference, which runs October 17 to 20, with package options for the full four days, single days or just the evening socials. As an additional package option, organizers have included a two-day post conference tour of the South Okanagan, which includes nine winery visits and accommodation.

The Wine and Culinary Tourism Futures Conference brings together speakers from around the world who will come together to educate perspective on the future of wine and culinary tourism. The conference is brought together through academic and industry partnerships through the University of British Columbia, The British Columbia Wine Institute, Thompson Rivers University, Okanagan College and Washington State University.

For a full list of speakers and conference schedule go to www.wineandculinarytourismfutures.ca