A major new player in the South Okanagan wine scene dropped by Oliver council on Monday to touch base and talk about plans for a 72,000-square-foot winery on Black Sage Road.
Phantom Creek Estates vineyard president Ingo Grady told council the winery – including production and bottling facilities, a restaurant, sales and administration and an outdoor entertainment venue – is slated to open in Spring 2019.
The owner of Phantom Creek is Bai Jiping. According to the blog Prosecco Conegliano, Bai is a Chinese industrialist who formerly owned an iron mine in Shanxi Province and currently operates a flaxseed processing plant managed in China by his son.
Grady told council Bai is investing about $100 million in his Okanagan wine venture. About half of it went to purchasing vineyards, including the seven-acre Phantom Creek property and the 40-acre Sundial parcel. He also bought two 20-acre pieces in the same area and 160 acres of unplanted land near Cawston.
Wine from the Sundial property will be sold under the name Suncatcher because of possible copyright issues.
Bai attended Monday’s along with his son and his executive assistant/translator.
In an interview later Monday, Grady said the initial $100-million investment might only be the beginning as Bai continues to seek quality grape producing land.
Said Grady: “80 per cent of the vineyards (in the Okanagan) can make good wine and 20 per cent have the potential to make great wine and Mr. Bai is only interested in the latter.”
As for the 2016 vintage, Grady said about 100 tons of grapes were crushed in the temporary winery on the Black Sage Road site. The grapes are aging in oak barrels and will produce about 4,000 case of red wine.
“I hope to have wine in the bottle from Phantom Creek by the spring of 2019,” Grady said.