Wine and the Games a good mix for B.C.

Post by Mike Klassen in

1 comment

Lindsay Anderson
Lindsay Anderson helps to manage Nk'Mip Cellars

In all the excitement the 2010 Games are generating for crowds attending free live concerts, the assortment of pavilions, and just enjoying the crowds and mild weather, it would be easy to forget that some serious business is taking place in rooms across town. British Columbia, Host Province of the 2010 Games, is working hard to get the message out there about the advantages of living and working here, and about the many products we produce. While not everyone may be keenly aware of how many ways we process natural resources, a whole bunch of us are learning about the world-class wine crafted in BC. Nk'Mip Cellars (pronounced 'in-ke-meep') from Osoyoos in the south Okanagan is one winery that has a great story to share with the world.

I met with Lindsay Anderson, who is the intern Guest Services Manager of Nk'Mip Cellars, and a member of the Osoyoos Indian Band. The band under the leadership of Chief Clarence Louie over the past decade has developed a joint venture with Vincor to create the Nk'Mip winery. For the band and Vincor, Canada's leading wine producers, it's a win-win. Jobs and economic growth benefit the south Okanagan economy, and Vincor gets a great wine brand.

Nk'Mip is one of the Official Suppliers of Wine for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, and you'll find it being served at pavilions such as Kla-howya: Aboriginal Village Welcome at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Nk'Mip is North America's 1st Aboriginal owned and operated winery, and it has become a must-see destination if you're visiting the south Okanagan. There is a good restaurant on site, open during the tourist season, and plenty of accommodation and golfing at the site as well.

Born and raised in Vernon, BC, Anderson and her family relocated to Oliver to join her mother’s family roots at the Osoyoos Indian Band in 1998. Her interest in the wine industry started in the vineyards, where she worked for a year before taking time off to have her daughter, now eight. Anderson joined Nk’Mip Cellars when it opened in September 2002, and has moved up through the ranks at Nk’Mip Cellars from Retail Supervisor to her current position as Intern Guest Services Manager. As Intern Guest Services Manager, she assists with guest interaction including tours and staff training, and also helps out in the vineyard with testing and planting throughout the season.

Lindsay Anderson has benefited from a mentoring program run by the winery. She tells me that this program is not exclusive to members of the Osoyoos Band, however. "We're always looking for great people to work with us. It would be great if more people living in our community can become involved at Nk'Mip." She is quick to tell me that it's not all glamorous work, as there are plenty of important jobs that involve long hours. "Making great wine doesn't happen without lots of work."

Having visited Nk'Mip several times over the past few years, I marvel at this new economic engine of Osoyoos. Many small towns today struggle with high unemployment and seasonal work. Whereas you can see the impact companies like Nk'Mip Cellars are having to a mainly agricultural economy. It's a great success story that I'm sure is being described at many of the BC showcases happening around town during the Games.

Anderson describes herself as a committed member of the Nk'Mip team. To date, she has completed programs at Okanagan University College such as the Winery Assistant Program, Viticulture Assistant Program, Wine Sales and Marketing, and worked towards an Aboriginal Tourism Diploma Program from Selkirk College. Despite tempting job offers from work experience programs connected to her schooling, Anderson made the decision to stay with Nk’Mip Cellars, as she knows it was where she “wants to be.” As a proud Osoyoos Indian Band member, Anderson is a great asset to Nk’Mip.

VANOC’s goal has been to achieve unprecedented Aboriginal participation in the planning and hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. I consider it one of the proudest aspects of these Games – the overwhelming presence of Aboriginal culture and enterprise on display in Vancouver.

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- cross-posted to BCWineLover.com by Mike. If you love wine, especially from BC then join us on Twitter.com/BCWineLover and Facebook.com/bcwinelover!

1 Comment

By the way, glad you profiled these guys. I love their wines, and love the fact that they are such a powerful model for value-added development, aboriginal entrepreneurialism and local employment.

I don't buy a bottle of Nk'Mip every week, mind you... but I've averaged at one every three months or so and don't intend to stop. Good to know they're visible at the Games.

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