Congratulations to Okanagan Crush Pad, 2013's #14 Most Innovative Company in B.C.
It wasn’t a completely warm welcome extended to Okanagan Crush Pad Winery Ltd. when co-owners Christine Coletta and her husband Steve Lornie threw open the doors to their Summerland business in September 2011. Some insiders worried that the couple’s rent-a-winery model would let inexperienced winemakers flood the market with substandard product, and would rob the industry of needed investment in licence, land and equipment.
The innovative model behind Crush Pad, however, has proven a winner, with the facility crushing about 112 tonnes of grapes for clients in 2011 and more than 300 tonnes in 2012. “We’re at max capacity after a year and a half of operation, so I think that tells a lot,” says Coletta, former executive director of the B.C. Wine Institute.
The custom-crush model has already proven successful in renowned wine regions such as France, New Zealand and California, but Crush Pad is a first for B.C. It helps grape growers or budding winemakers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to produce wines without a massive upfront investment in land and equipment, and it’s attracting some of B.C.’s top names in wine. Vancouver wine consultant Kurtis Kolt, the Vancouver International Wine Festival’s Sommelier of the Year 2010, was one of the first to use Crush Pad’s services.
The true innovation, says Coletta, doesn’t lie in renting out equipment, but in Crush Pad’s ability to take clients from field to marketplace. “We’re the only consulting firm in Canada that really specializes in that, and the only custom wine facility in Canada that does that,” she says. She credits her team, a who’s-who of industry movers and shakers that includes winemaker Michael Bartier, globally recognized wine adviser David Scholefield, Chilean wine terroir consultant Pedro Parra and internationally acclaimed viticulturist and winemaker Alberto Antonini.
Crush Pad now has 12 wines on its roster (including house brands Haywire and Bartier Scholefield) and in less than two years has doubled its production of critically acclaimed wine from 17,000 to almost 34,000 cases.