Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Ensures Bright Future for Endangered Wildlife
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery has just taken further steps to help BC's endangered wildlife, including the burrowing owl for which the winery is named. The winery used funds raised in their tasting room to purchase land and return it to the South Okanagan Rehab Centre for Owls (SORCO) and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC (BOCS).
In 2003, The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) saved the day for SORCO founder Sherry Klein, by purchasing her land that was the home of her rehabilitation centre for injured birds of prey. The site also attracted the BOCS. These two societies thought their future at that location was assured. In early 2013, however, TLC went into creditor protection and every property in its portfolio was at risk of being sold to satisfy creditors. This put both societies in a state of uncertainty, which has affected almost every decision they have made over the last year. It could also have had a negative effect on the amount of financial support the societies receive.
Jim Wyse, the Chair of Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, was able to convince the court that, for a modest fee of $50,000, this property should be released from creditor protection and conveyed to the two societies so that this situation would never repeat itself. Jim, who has been a director of both societies at various times, and has a land development background, was able to stickhandle through the bureaucratic maze to acquire the property with the court's full approval.
"We collect a 'voluntary' $3.00 donation from all of our winery visitors, and these funds are used for a wide variety of strictly environmental and conservation uses," Wyse notes. "Every year these donations provide about $80,000 so that we have been able to provide essential funding when government sources have really dried up."
Today, thanks to the hard work of Mr. Wyse, SORCO and BOCS are proud joint-owners of the property just north of Oliver, BC where their programs operate. The future is bright for all involved, including TLC, which at last report is expected to come out of this period of protection and reorganization stronger than ever.
About The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls: The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO) is a non-profit society based in the South Okanagan. We specialize in the rescue and recovery of any injured or otherwise incapacitated bird of prey at our clinic and specialized flight cages. In addition we provide an educational program which generates public interest and support for the preservation of this vital part of our natural inheritance.
About The Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC: The Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC is a non-profit society whose goal is to restore the population of burrowing owls in BC to a sustainable level, through captive breeding and site development including the installation of artificial burrows, throughout the southern interior grasslands. The society is also mandated to conduct an educational program which includes among other things travelling to many schools throughout the year.
2014 VINEYARD UPDATE:
The South Okanagan experienced a relatively mild winter this year, with only a few small uneventful cold snaps. We expect the vines will wake up healthy from their winter rest. Over the last three years, mild winters have ensured healthy harvests and we anticipate that 2014 will be no exception. One of the benefits of a mild winter is that pruning goes much more smoothly.
We are on track to finish pruning well ahead of schedule and have targeted a few small blocks for improvement and replanting this year. At Burrowing Owl we constantly strive to ensure that each vine is producing the best fruit possible. There were two small blocks that we noticed were at the initial stages of decline so a plant order was initiated last year, and this spring two, 5 acre blocks have been replanted with new plants.
You can identify the new blocks by the Milk Cartons located over each new plant. It looks like a sea of white from a distance. We use milk cartons to protect the small young plants from damage from sun and sprays. The cartons are usually removed in the 3rd year of the plants life. The milk cartons are the perfect material because the wax & paper are easily mulched and eventually returns to the soil to biodegrade when the plant no longer needs this protection. We don’t allow vines to produce fruit until their third year, making vineyard planning a very long term exercise. Expect wines from plants going in the ground this year to hit the shelves in 2019.
To learn about what’s new at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, please click here.