Northern Lights Estate Winery, in its fifth year partnership with the Northern Bear Awareness Society of Prince George, collected more than 25,000 pounds of apples from around Prince George this fall.
These apples were donated by residents who did not have other uses for the fruit and wanted to ensure that there was no attractants left in the yard which many bring Bears to the area.
“When bears are attracted to residential areas, not only are the residents at risk but so are the bears, many bears are killed every year because they pose a risk to the health and safety of people in the area,” said Noemie Touchette, Director of Operations at Northern Lights Estate Winery.
The idea came about early in 2015 while in discussion with the Northern Bear Aware Society on how to reduce the attractant levels that occur in areas of the city where bear activity is high year after year. The team at the winery believes that sustainability and environmental stewardship means more than just what they do on our own site, said Touchette. It also means contributing back to the broader area which includes wildlife habitat and the community. Another problem they encountered was finding apple orchards in the northern area to source product from since their own apple orchard will not produce enough apples for several years.
“The solution to both problems came together in a very natural way,” said Doug Bell, operating partner for the winery. “When we realized there was an opportunity to combine both organizations’ visions, we immediately said yes.”
The wine produced from these northern hardy apples is a beautiful blend of sweet and sour. It produces an off dry wine similar to a Pinot Gris Grape wine. The blend of apples has the right aromatics and complexity to pair well with many different foods and is sold across B.C. at select retailers
“Every fall Bears are needlessly destroyed due to human negligence. In addition to programs like these, our community needs to be mindful of all types of fruit growing in our yards as well as garbage cans and other attractants which can bring unwanted guests to our neighbourhoods,” said Dave Bakker, Northern Bear Awareness Society. “This problem is not just a northern one but is occurring in many communities across B.C.”
The Northern Bear awareness society was presented with an $8,000 cheque in November for their help with the program.