Springing into the Okanagan Wine Festival

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KELOWNA – The 21st annual Okanagan Spring Wine Festival kicks off Thursday with a record number of wineries taking part.  This year, 123 local wineries will be showcasing their wines at the 10-day event.

About 15,000 people are expected to take in the festival, many of them from outside the Okanagan.

“We have tons of people coming from Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto,” says Richelle Hasenhuendel with the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.

The influx of tourists comes at a time that’s typically quiet still, even in tourist-oriented regions like the Okaangan.

“It brings people here when they may not have been originally planning a trip, so we are getting them here sooner, “ says Hasenhuendel.

The early season boost is being welcomed by local wineries, which is anticipating to see an increase in visitors over the course of the festival.

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At Volcanic Hills Winery in West Kelowna, this upcoming Saturday is promising to be very busy.

“Between 12-4 p.m., I think we probably have 100 people booked for tastings,” says winery owner Bobby Gidda.

Hospitality-oriented companies are also cashing in on the festivities.

Uncorked Okanagan Wine Tours is one example.  The owner says business triples when the spring wine festival gets underway.

“We have gone from using two vehicles to six this weekend,” says owner Jim Harris.  “So all of a sudden, it is the beginning of our season,too.  We are so excited for this to happen at this time of year because it gives us good jump on the season.”

This year there are more than 90 events scheduled during the 10-day event right across the Okanagan Valley. For a list of scheduled events, click here.

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