City approves bylaw permitting tasting booths at downtown markets

Some wine and beer should be available at this weekend's events

This Saturday, as you visit the Penticton Farmers’ Market or the Downtown Market, you are going to be able to sample more than fruits, veggies and other goodies.

City council voted unanimously Monday to change municipal bylaws and remove the last obstacle to allowing wineries to set up tasting booths at the markets.

“We are thrilled,” said Kerri Milton, executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association. “We all think it will add to the vibrancy and tourism downtown.

“We currently have a variety of wineries that have already been approved by the liquor inspector so we will have some wineries on Saturday.”

The Farmers’ Market is also expecting to add wineries to their lineup, though they will only be allowing two at a time.

“We are planning on having a rotating schedule,” said Moses Brown, representing the Farmers’ Market.

“We can’t have more than two wineries, because we just don’t have space. If the city would deem to give us more space, we could possibly look at expanding the winery aspect of it.”

All the stakeholders who spoke at the public hearing Monday were in support of the changes, though there was some concern from Brown that the way the Downtown Penticton Association was planning to handle the wineries, would create a second farmers’ market and unfair competition.

“We have agreed with the liquor board that the 400 block would be for tastings,” said Milton. “We would move our current farmers that are in other locations into that block as well to go with the whole feel of tastings and wineries and cheese and bread and all those different kind of things that relate. This is just another way to economically grow downtown Penticton.”

Hugh McClelland, representing the Naramata Bench winery association, spoke in favour of the changes. He noted that there are 25 different wineries in the organization, 18 of which fall within Penticton boundaries.

“Most of my wineries are very interested in being able to sell wine in the markets,” said McClelland.

“They see it as a very positive business opportunity, both for selling wine directly, but also as an opportunity to increase tourism in the area because it is an opportunity to talk with people and tell them about the wine touring opportunities.”

Milton said they will also be working with craft breweries to add to the offerings.t, is also on the list.

“It’s not just wineries, but we have also created space for just locally produced beverages period,” said Milton. “Bad Tattoo makes its own root beer, so they are going to be there as well. This is a big thing.”