Northern Lights Estate Winery (NLEW) and the Northern Bear Awareness Society of Prince George is hoping to exceed 100,000 pounds of apples collected since the partnership began in 2015.
These apples are donated by residents and can be dropped off at Northern Lights Estate Winery. There is also a small crew of individuals that can pick apples from homeowners whom are unable to pick their own fruit.
“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 Awareness Society on how to reduce the attractant levels that occur in areas of the city where bear activity is high year after year.
Winery staff believes that sustainability and environmental stewardship means more than just what we do on our own site. It also means contributing back to the broader area which includes wildlife habitat and the community. Also the opportunity to source northern fruit which is better for winemaking was initially a challenge until this solution was developed.
“The solution to both problems came together in a very natural way,” said Doug Bell, operating partner for NLEW. “In recent years there has been up to 25,000 calls about problem bears to the conservation office annually in BC and we believe that this program is making an impact in reducing these as well as raising money and awareness for the problem.”
The apples are used in the creation of several wines, most notably the Lumiere Blanche apple, Ursa apple, Boreal Frizante sparkling, and the newest hit of 2020 called Pink Knight.
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. This year in an addition to the program, individuals can make their own fruit wines from fruits harvested by bringing them into Hobby Brews by Northern Lights.
“You can now get the same professional wines found at Northern Lights Winery using your own fruits by bringing them in to Hobby Brews,” said Diana Bell, operation partner of Hobby Brews by Northern Lights. “This is a great way to use up excess fruit and restock your wine cellar at the same time.”
“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.”
For more on the Winery or Northern Bear Aware Society, please visit www.northernlightswinery.ca or www.northernbearawareness.com