Three things about small businesses: they adapt, they change, and they are resilient. Throw in a family dynamic and along with the challenges comes the magic. Family businesses are very much 'a thing' in our region's food and drink scene and we're very much better because of it. Here are the families behind 5 businesses in Kelowna and West Kelowna that you should know:

Wyn and Marion Lewis / Proprietors, The Vibrant Vine

Wyn and Marion Villa - The Vibrant Vine

Wyn and Marion were studying at Cambridge University in the UK (as in Oxford and Cambridge, Cambridge) when they met. They jumped over the pond in 1975, but it wasn’t until 2003 that they moved to the property that is now Vibrant Vine. Their son, Tony, swapped out the old apple orchard and planted their initial 8-acres of vines and Vibrant Vine officially became a winery with a tasting room in 2010.

The Vibrant Vine is about entertaining your senses with this kaleidoscope of music, art, and, of course, wine. From planting vines and winemaking to the custom art and garden design, the family left their mark every step of the way.

“We are a family-owned winery; Marion and I are at the winery almost every day of the year. Our eldest son is the artist who creates all the 3D art and clothing, and our middle son was our winemaker before opening his own winery, Frequency Wine & Sound, in Kelowna.”

{Random facts: Wyn has a thing for planes and even flew a twin-engine plane across the Atlantic. Marion is a legit pianist—they host over 100 live music events each year and their ‘Music of the Night’ concert is attended by a whopping 10,000 people!}

Marina & Harv Johal, Caroline & Taylor Sebastian / Scenic Road Cider Co.

Scenic Road Cider Team

From their backyard to your bottle—this is what happens when two couples, born and raised in the Okanagan, move back to Kelowna around the same time, each has an apple orchard a block apart, and decide to join forces to open up a small-batch cidery in 2015. Cool story, hey?

Taylor is the orchardist, looking after the trees on his family’s property; Caroline, the former court reporter, is now the cidermaker; Marina, a former clinical pharmacist, works her magic in the packinghouse (which dates back to 1936); and Harv takes care of the marketing and sales (after taste testing a lot of cider to be sure). You can expect small-batch cider that’s crisp and clean and reflective of the land with only BC-grown fruit, most of which is coming from their two orchards. This story proves that you don’t have to be blood to be family.

“We have a unique setting on agricultural land that allows visitors to experience the orchard while they visit the tasting room. The picnic area is set in the orchard, the tasting room is in the packinghouse, which has the original wood from 1936, and we are surrounded by farms, which gives you the feeling of being in a rural setting but still within the city, so very accessible,” says Marina.

Jon & the Crofts Family / Fishmonger & Owner, Codfathers Seafood Market

The Crofts Family - Codfathers

Despite being landlocked, Codfathers is a full-service, two-generational fishmonger offering twice-daily shipments of ocean-friendly seafood from Canada’s coasts and beyond. They also supply seafood to some of the Okanagan’s best farm-to-table restaurants like Waterfront Wines, Home Block at Cedar Creek Winery, and Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Winery to name a few.

“My wife, Anne-Marie, has been involved from the start and is vital to the smooth running of things (and reigning back my compulsive fish buying habit when necessary). My three sons, Jamie, Tom, and Jack, all help with the business, usually shucking oysters at festivals and events, and Jack, the oldest (now nearly 15), works in the store part-time and also helps me with Slow Fish projects.”

As active Slow Food and Slow Fish activists, Jon and the Crofts family are trying to keep our oceans and food safe. Always ahead of the game (and sometimes 2 years ahead of BC or the rest of Canada), our little fishmonger is constantly working with new and innovative fisheries – ask Jon about the story behind the Eel Nation Striped Bass fisher or BC Squid and the Inuit fishery in Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, if you’d like to geek out. But it’s more than that. Jon is always willing to share his knowledge, whether it’s lobbying for socioeconomic changes in fisheries in Ottawa and Victoria, delivering a keynote session for the Slow Fish moment, or helping a co-op fish box program in both the UK and Belgium, he’s done it and will continue to do it. And our oceans and food culture are better for it.

Jas, Raj & the Sanghera Family / Farmer & Owner, Don O Ray Farms

Sandhera Family - Don O Ray Farm Market

Hailing from India’s farming region of Punjab to Canada via Alberta in the 1990s, the Sanghera family has three generations involved in their family business, Don O Ray Farms. It’s that family focus that runs through everything they do—from planting seeds, watching them grow, and keeping you well-nourished thanks to their farm-fresh market stand, to serving up 24-flavours of ice cream for those hot summer days (or any day they’re open, really), to welcoming you at the Farm Adventure & Petting Zoo and doing what they can to create positive food memories for generations to come.

“The Don O Ray family concept is all about nurturing the seeds we planted in our fields and watching them grow, just as we do our children. We have grandparents and grandkids all working together. We hope to instill the importance of knowing where your food comes from in our future generations.”

Sheri & the Paynter Family / Off The Grid Winery

Off the Grid Winery - Paynter Family

Owned by Travis and Nigel Paynter (who are brothers), and Sheri and Hayley (their multi-talented partners), the winery property has been in their family for over 101 years. With uncles and aunts also growing grapes for them, sister-in-law, Chandra, managing the vineyards, and Aunty Laurie looking after the rest, it’s very much a family affair.

With deep farming roots, Off-The-Grid is a winery with bigger picture regenerative thinking—the sheep help weed their vineyard (which is just a fancy word for farm), the chickens help with bug control, they compost, and everything is done by hand. When you look at our growing wine scene, there are less than ten that are certified organic in the province—Off-The-Grid is one of them.

With small-lot wines so small that you can only buy it directly from the winery. And why wouldn’t you want to visit Narnia? In the words of chef turned winemaker and director of operations, Sheri:

“These are my ‘real’ job titles, but my favourite and most rewarding is looking after all the animals on the farm. We have a flock of 9 sheep, as well as 30+ chickens, and a turkey named Ken, but we take in many rescue goats both from the SPCA and from private families who can no longer keep them.”

Throw in some experimental labels, including a 100% natural wine called ‘Farm Band,’ as well as a frozen Gewürztraminer and a lot is going on—I’ll leave it to you to find out more.

Dear family-owned and -operated businesses of Kelowna and beyond, thanks for all you do.