The owners of Trail Store Fruit and More want to set the record straight about their plans to convert the store into a brewery.
Nicole Gidman and Scott Breier said they’ve wanted to open a brewery for years, and everything fell into place when the 2.85 hectares and the existing store, located on 965 Naramata Rd., came on the market last year and their brewmaster friend agreed to come on board. Since then, they’ve begun the process to rezone the lot, which is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), to allow for their dreams to become a reality.
This involves having Penticton city council approve the rezoning of the lot to allow for the brewery, and subsequently supporting their application to the Agricultural Land Committee (ALC) to rezone the lot on their end as non-farm use. So far, city council has given the rezoning bylaw its first reading and held a public hearing, with the results and next readings to take place in the near future.
“I think a lot of people are confused by the process, and one lady at the public hearing (with the City of Penticton) thought we had applied to be an ALR exclusion or that sort of thing. The whole purpose with this application and the rezoning with the ALC to a non-farm use is essentially because we don’t want to rip out all these established orchards (on our lot),” said Breier. “Because our property is over two hectares, we’re required to grow two hectares of produce. But that would be the majority of our property. So we’re trying to avoid that – we’d like to keep our apples but we’ll get rid of the peaches and cherries and the Christmas trees, which is about one hectare.”
They also planted 3,000 sq. ft. of barley to aid in their brewing once the business is in operation, and Breier said the ALC asked them to provide proof of this before they can apply for a building permit. He said because this would be the second brewery on ALR land in B.C., they think the ALC is trying to be cautious with their application while they review their processes internally, ensuring everything is done correctly.
Breier and Gidman said they’ve also had concerned neighbours who are in favour of their plan approach them about their plans for parking and hours once the brewery is up and running. They said they can appreciate the concerns and have no plans to make their brewery “a party central.”
“We want to keep with the same hours of other businesses in the area. We’re in the same market, it’s just a different product,” Gidman.
Both realize how special the store has been to its patrons over the years, conveniently located off of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail and known for its fresh apple smoothies. Gidman said they will be keeping the smoothies and trying to incorporate a relaxed, family atmosphere for customers who want to enjoy the orchard views and outdoors.
“When I picture it, the beer is a big part of the whole thing, but I picture a destination for friends and family to spend an afternoon. Like pull up a blanket, play some lawn games and hang out,” said Gidman. “And we’ll have something for kids too, that’s why we’re keeping the apple slushies and we might have ice cream.”
Breier added, “We want to keep the aesthetics, and the kids and families coming here. It’s just the addition of having some beer.”
For now, the couple is waiting to hear back from the ALC on their application, which can take 60 days once they’ve received it. Then, hopefully construction will be on the way next year, adding yet another craft brewery to Penticton’s growing Ale Trail.
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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