Okanagan College

Okanagan College regional dean Eric Corneau, Thursday, at the announcement that the college will be receiving a $1.75 million boost for a new B.C. Beverage Technology Access Centre.

An initiative designed to support the wine, beer, cider and spirits industry at Penticton’s Okanagan College campus will receive a $1.75 million boost, courtesy of the federal government.

OC’s B.C. Beverage Technology Access Centre is one of 12 recipients to receive funding for the next five years.

The college will receive $350,000 annually as a part of the federal TAC Grants, which is also renewable.

Funds will help launch the BCBTAC’s headquarters at Penticton’s OC campus, which will provide market research and testing assistance to the wine, beer, cider and spirits industries across the province.

“Okanagan College has a long history of serving the wine industry in this region, with graduates from various programs,” said OC president Jim Hamilton. “This centre is going to play an even more important role in the larger initiative.” 

Technical Access Centres provide research and innovation needs for regional firms, such as technical assistance, advice on the company’s challenges and specialized training.

OC’s BCBTAC will be the second TAC in B.C. along with one at Camosun College.

“This is the best of the best to get to this level,” said Andrew Hay, the vice-president of education. “We’re really excited to get to bring this one here.”

OC aims to have the TAC running by early fall, with renovations already in progress.

“Talk about a perfect location, here in Penticton, centrally located in the hub of beverage production in the Okanagan valley,” said Daniel Bibby, co-owner of Nighthawk Vineyards and executive director of Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort.

“From the perspective of a farm gate winery owner … this is the opportunity to keep wine testing and analytics really close by, not the easiest thing to do when you’re a small family trying to keep the wine shop open, out in the field and running to get testing done,” he said. “Having it at our back door really helps a great deal.”

There are 219 wineries, 19 craft cideries, 16 craft distilleries and 24 craft breweries within OC’s catchment area.

In the entire province, there are 350 wineries, 34 cideries, 75 distilleries and 136 members of the craft brewery guild.