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Winery taps into Chinese market

An international business deal with Painted Rock Estate Winery is expected to rein in more attention to the expanding industry in the South Okanagan.
Proprietor John Skinner of Painted Rock Estate Winery holds up a bottle of the 2008 Painted Rock Red Icon wine in the company vineyards overlooking Skaha Lake. The winery recently inked a long-term sales contract with a distributor in China.

An international business deal with Painted Rock Estate Winery is expected to rein in more attention to the expanding industry in the South Okanagan.

John Skinner, proprietor of Painted Rock, said a business deal has been struck with Chinese wine brokerage company North American Premiere Wine Shop that will see them purchase between 10 and 20 per cent of their production for a number of years. Skinner said Painted Rock is also going to be featured in the company’s magazines with stories and photos of their South Okanagan vineyard in September.

“That is the most exciting thing and not just for Painted Rock but for the Okanagan. It’s regional awareness. They have identified us as a new, highly viable region and I think it’s really to be celebrated,” said Skinner. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg I think for our winery community here that people internationally are seeking us out now. For a 5,000-case winery to be promoted like this is huge. Their market will not only learn about who Painted Rock is but learn about B.C. and the Okanagan.”

Representatives from North American Premiere Wine Shop, who have done some business with other wineries in the Okanagan, had heard of Painted Rock and the two groups were introduced.

“They have recognized that the Okanagan is hitting the quality mark and they are pretty aggressive at doing business,” said Skinner.

The Painted Rock owner suggested the group taste all of the wines to really understand how they are progressing. Skinner said they looked at him and said they have a case of every one of Painted Rock’s wines.

“They did their due diligence and didn’t need to know anything further, which was very flattering,” said Skinner.

Painted Rock, which sits on the bench overlooking the eastern shore of Skaha Lake, was once the centre of the largest apricot orchard, harvesting since the early 1900s. The property laid fallow under the ownership of another winery in the late ‘80s until Skinner purchased it in 2004. Planting began in 2005 under the guidance of viticulturists and wine consultants from California and France. It was Skinner’s dream of having a family owned winery.

“It’s exceptional to know we have this kind of certainty now with this deal that allows us to keep our business really focused on making the best quality wine that we are capable of and cutting no corners. Our business model is about getting better, not bigger. This deal now just simplifies our world because we employ a lot of local people and have a wonderful team here. Now that everybody has certainty we can keep our eye on the plan,” said Skinner.

The winery kept its local customers in mind when they made the business deal, ensuring enough product to meet demand in B.C.

“It is a number that doesn’t affect our business in B.C. which is very important to us. We want to ensure we are able to service the customers that have been so supportive to us from the beginning and we don’t want to undermine that,” said Skinner.

The proprietor will travel to mainland China in October to help promote Painted Rock with North American Premiere Wine Shop on a nine-day whirlwind trip.

“This is a golden opportunity and I will be there waving the Painted Rock flag. It also has a really good trickle-down effect and I see it as something that the whole industry can celebrate,” said Skinner.