Frind Estate Winery, owned by tech entrepreneur Markus Frind, has been developing 900 acres of land in Vernon, including 820 acres on the mountainside south of Bella Vista Road. (Frind Estate Winery photo)

Tech mogul growing North Okanagan’s wine industry

The founder of online dating site Plenty of Fish is developing 900 acres in Vernon

In a valley that’s burgeoning with vineyards, a tech entrepreneur is striving to put Vernon-grown grapes on the map.

Markus Frind, owner of Frind Estate Wineries and founder of the highly successful internet dating site Plenty of Fish, has been developing 900 acres of recently purchased land – 80 acres at the north end of Tronson Road near the Vernon Airport, and 820 on the mountainside south of Bella Vista Road, just down from The Rise. Planting has begun on the future vineyards.

Vineyards are scarce and wineries non-existent in Vernon, but Frind is continuing a trend that’s seen grapes move north up the Okanagan Valley.

“If you look at the valley historically, everyone thought it was impossible to grow grapes outside of Osoyoos,” Frind told the Morning Star. “Then Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Kelowna – it just keeps moving north.”

Finding land with the right conditions is key, and a few degrees in temperature can make all the difference – something Frind has put plenty of effort into getting right.

“We started putting weather stations up and down the valley and monitoring which sites would be the best for grapes,” Frind said, adding the stations help determine which grape varieties can grow where.

“You’ve got that massive cold air flow coming down from the Lumby area. It’s very challenging to grow on that side of the city, but on the other side it’s dramatically warmer.”

READ MORE: Okanagan wineries donate $10,000 to United Way’s COVID-19 relief fund

READ MORE: ‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Frind is growing on a south-facing slope with flat land, which will help produce grapes that ripen consistently.

“You want the south-facing slope so the air drains off. If the air doesn’t drain off when it’s cold, everything freezes.”

The award-winning wine produced at The Rise vineyards next door to the 820 acres was another positive sign of what can be produced on the hillside.

“It’s one of the best pinot vineyards in Canada.”

As for when Vernon wine-lovers can enjoy a Frind Estates bottle from their backyard, Frind says there’s plenty more work to do, such as adding infrastructure and doing a significant amount of earth work on the 820 acres.

“It usually takes three years to get to production,” he said. “The wine industry is sort of ‘hurry up and wait.’ ”

After planting pinot in one of the plots last year, Frind is now trying cabernet sauvignon, which will test the limits of what the vineyard can grow.

“(Cabernet sauvignon) is the toughest by far. If I can grow cab sav it means we can grow anything.”

“It’s just really exciting to get these lines in the ground and see what they’re going to do.”


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

BC Winedevelopment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shuswap 4-H Club members’ projects up for auction

Second-year club member Kayleigh Stockbruegger selling lambs Olaf and Nacho Cheese

Morning Start: One Year on Uranus Is 84 Years on Earth

Your morning start for Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020

Age requirement for firefighters in Salmon Arm lowered

Three-month probation period replaced by longer recruit training

Shuswap dragon boat team honours Terry Fox in its own way

Close to $1,000 raised on the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Refresh of Liberal government’s agenda comes amid new looming COVID-19 crisis

Lockdowns saw fed spending soar to historic levels in effort to offset pandemic’s blow to Canadians’ livelihoods

Attorney General defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Perfect storm’ causes influx of black widows in the Okanagan

The region’s only venomous spider has come out in full force this year

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Suspected human remains found in burned out vehicle on OKIB land

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP hand over investigation to Major Crimes

Most Read