Penticton-based writer Roslyne Buchanan recently visited the new BCBTAC at the Penticton Campus of Okanagan College.
Funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and an initiative by Okanagan College (OC) culminated in a new resource for business services, testing and applied research assistance for BC wine, beer, cider and spirits industries. The BC Beverage Technology Access Centre (BCBTAC) at the OC’s Penticton campus now offers support to beverage industries in the region and throughout BC.
Penticton was announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport, as one of 12 technology access centres and allocated $1.75 million in federal funding over five years.
OC President Jim Hamilton noted in speaking to the announcement how exciting it is for the industries and the college. “We have a significant track record of training and support for the wine industry and wanted to leverage college expertise and personnel to assist all these growing industries. Industry offered phenomenal support and input for this proposal.”
Dr. Andrew Hay, OC Vice President Education, attributed a host of people at OC and externally who rallied around the idea and brought it to life. He acknowledged the work by Sandra Oldfield, Elysian Projects co-founder, Fortify Conference organizer, and former Tinhorn Creek Winery co-owner, as consultant to help put the pieces together and ensure links with the appropriate industry people.
OC research identified 19 craft cideries, 219 wineries, 16 craft distilleries, and 24 craft breweries within its catchment area with numbers growing weekly. The BCBTAC now provides analytical and sensory services, along with a full suite of business services to assist this vibrant and growing sector of the economy.
“For small wineries, the BCBTAC will be a valuable asset,” said Nighthawk Vineyards Co-Owner Daniel Bibby. “Whether for consumer research or analytical services, having it in the region is an asset to advance our agendas of quality and reputation.”
The limited-scale facilities at the BCBTAC can render proof-of-concept production of wine, beer, cider, spirits and other beverages with labs (microbiology, chemistry, food quality and shelf-life, and sensory analysis and consumer testing) to undertake research and analysis. Operational and brand support is available to assist clients understand current and potential markets, and consumer preferences.