Grapegrowers award winner

Karnail Singh Sidhu, proprietor, manager and viticulturalist at West Kelowna’s Kalala Organic Winery, with his wife, Narinda, after receiving the B.C. Grapegrowers’ Association’s inaugural Viticulturalist of the Year award.

The importance of growing quality grapes was recognized Friday morning as Karnail Singh Sidhu, proprietor, manager and viticulturalist at West Kelowna’s Kalala Organic Winery received the B.C. Grapegrowers’ Association’s inaugural Viticulturalist of the Year award.

The presentation was originally to take place at the association’s annual Grower Day; however, after the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, John Bayley, president of the B.C. Grapegrowers’ Association, presented Sidhu with the award at the winery in front of his family and co-workers.

“The award was designed to spotlight the best wine grape growers in B.C. and to commend those in our industry who rarely get the public recognition, yet provide the grapes needed for those fantastic wines we drink,” said Bayley.

Sidhu was one of five nominees for the award. Judging criteria included vineyard management, environmental stewardship, equipment, human resources, innovation and peer perception.

Sidhu’s colleagues had nothing but kind words to say about his approachability, positive attitude and vineyard practices past and present, Bayley said. More than one commented on the high level of quality wine he produces using his grapes

Bayley said Sidhu is a strong community representative who cares deeply about what he’s doing in the vineyard, is open to research being done on the site and engages in published studies to help stay informed.

Sidhu’s engaged approach to farming was a large reason why the judges selected him as the winner.

“At any time, one can find you attending any of the numerous events and conferences and you're always willing to help and talk shop with other growers if approached,” Bayley told Sidhu during the presentation.

Wine grapes have been grown in B.C. for 60 years. It is a small

industry and Bayley said it’s essential growers work together and talk to one another.

Growers are unsung heroes.of the wine industry, Bayley said.

“The winemakers and wineries get a lot of credit, which is absolutely fine, but where it all starts is quite important,” he said.

The award includes $2,000 that Sidhu can use toward attending a viticulture event.

Sidhu said it’s important to grow organic.

“I say always, if you are living on a farm, you should be organic, otherwise you are not honest to your children,” he said.

Sidhu, who farms 20 acres of grapes in West Kelowna as well as 20 acres in Oliver and Osoyoos, officially opened Kalala Organic Estate Winery in 2008 after working 10 years at Summerhill Winery.

Singh’s wife Narinda is the controller and their two daughters are involved at the winery as well.

The award will be presented annually.

Nominations for the 2020 Viticulturist of the Year are now open.

For more information and to nominate a grower, go online to grapegrowers.bc.ca/bcga-viticulture-awards