After 10 years of sitting vacant the B.C. Tree Fruits packinghouse property in Naramata has new owners and soon a new purpose in the community.
The 4.6 acre property will be home to a new storage facility called the Wine Vault that will serve the Naramata and Penticton area wineries and cideries and distilleries.
“It’s a really sustainable project. We’re not changing a bunch of things, but it’s going to be much more pleasing to the eye. There’s not going to be a lot of traffic. It’s one of those situations where the community wins and the business should support itself,” David Enns, one of the four new owners of the property said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Enns, who is founder, executive winemaker at Laughing Stock Vineyards said he along with the other partners, Mik Ball, Robert Gritten and Steven Jaeger, decided to buy the facility this past summer.
“All of us are residents. We’ve all experienced the village when it was a packinghouse and when it was an active part of the community… and then when it was shuttered. We watched it for 10 years and saw a bunch of developers come and go that wanted to develop it into something that maybe didn’t fit in downtown Naramata and were unsuccessful,” he said.
“We want to preserve a little bit of the heritage, but at the same time bring it into modern times.”
The facility won’t be cold storage, but rather a place for wineries to store a variety of things they need during production.
“Cases, barrels, finished wine, glass about to be bottled, all the needs the businesses have when they go about the manufacturing process,” he said.
Enns said before buying the property he made calls to people in the industry to see if there was a need.
“There’s a tremendous amount of interest. The whole penticton area doesn’t have that much amount of storage,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be a problem getting that business going.”
Enns said the partners were not sure about plans for the rest of the property and until that’s determined he wasn’t sure how many new jobs would be created.
“It’s five acres in the middle of the village. Whatever it is should be good for the community,” he said.
Redevelopment plans for the cold storage building include new electrical, new climate control, energy efficient lighting and site and building security. A facelift of the business end of the building will also be undertaken.
Construction is scheduled to start soon with the storage business expected to open in mid-March 2018.