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This afternoon a major funding announcement took place at the BC Wine Information Centre in Penticton.

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Laura Kowlachuk, Manager of BC Wine Info Centre

Okanagan College is on its way to establishing a new sensory lab in the heart of wine country, thanks to a $300,000 donation from the BC Wine Information Society, which operates the BC VQA Wine Information Centre in Penticton. “The BC Wine Information Society operates the BC VQA Wine Information Centre in Penticton as a non-profit entity,” explained Keith Bevington, President of the BC Wine Information Society. “Thanks to the support of our local customers, we are able to leverage proceeds from the store to help us deliver on our goal of increasing awareness and growth of BC wines. This investment will help facilitate an ever-increasing group of knowledgeable BC wine ambassadors.”

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Keith Bevington (l) and Jim Hamilton (r)

“This is an important step in the evolution of our programming at Okanagan College, and demonstrates how important the relationship is between the College and the industry,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “Partnerships such as this with the BC Wine Information Society are what makes Okanagan College unique, and what will bring more people to the College for exceptional training in the food, wine and tourism industries.”

Jonathan Rouse, Director of Wine, Food and Tourism at Okanagan College, said this new facility underlines the College’s commitment to diversified programming.

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Jonathan Rouse

“We have the privilege of training and educating students in a region that is renowned for its quality wines and we understand just how valuable it is for our college to strengthen its ties to industry experts in order to create the best possible opportunities for students,” he said. “This generous donation will allow us to build a facility that will be extremely helpful for our students, as well as the B.C. wine industry. It will be a significant asset.”

Rouse said students interested in winemaking, those pursuing viticulture and those aiming to work in the hospitality industry with a focus on food and wine, will benefit from the creation of this lab, which is outfitted with a complete kitchen and multimedia facilities that can broadcast instructional material worldwide.IMG_3409“The sensory lab classroom has been expressly designed to meet the needs of a research-oriented facility, and one that is interactive and engaging for students,” Rouse said. “Our aim is to create a flexible environment to meet a range of programming needs, from the amateur to the professional.”

The new BC Wine Information Centre Sensory Lab will be located at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College and will be the first educational facility of its type in the valley. The classroom-style lab will create a tasting environment similar to those already in existence at Brock University and Niagara College in Ontario.Rendering - wine-lab-displayThe new BC Wine Information Centre Sensory Lab will provide 24 seats in a 120-square metre space. In keeping with the College’s commitment to sustainability, it will be designed to meet the Living Building Challenge standards. The lab is expected to be open and available for students in January 2014.

In attendance at the announcement were directors of the BC Wine Information Society, staff of the Wine Information Centre, directors, staff and alumni of Okanagan College, local dignitaries and members of the media. A couple of local wineries were on hand to pour their wines, including Hester Creek and Time Estate, the newest venture from Harry McWatters, one of the pioneers of the BC wine industry. Also featured was Bella Wines, the Okanagan’s only “bubble house”, specialising in sparkling wines. The toasts were made with their sparkling Gamay Rosé.

IMG_3402And a Happy Birthday to Keith!

And a Happy Birthday to Keith!
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