Hosting business events that incorporate sustainable practices is easy in Kelowna, thanks to the practices and efforts of local venues and suppliers. We connected with a handful of our partners to find out what sustainability means to them, some of the recent initiatives they’ve undertaken, and what plans they have for the future.

CedarCreek Estate Winery

Group Wine Tasting at CedarCreek

CedarCreek Estate Winery, named Winery of the Year at the 2022 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, is keenly focused on regenerative farming and sustainable practices when making its award-winning organic wines. The winery's team, which includes Winemaker and Director of Sustainability, Taylor Whelan, Organic Viticulturist, Kurt Simcic, and Sustainability Coordinator, Alejandra Galvin, has been managing the estate's vineyards organically since 2017. Since 2021, its grapes have been certified organic and all the wines it produces are fully organic.

The winery's commitment to sustainability also extends to its onsite restaurant, Home Block, which also acts as one of its available event spaces, accommodating groups of 120 between its indoor space and outdoor terrace. 

"In regards to events, we don’t do anything different from our regular restaurant operations," says Whelan. "We would indeed use our garden produce along with that of local farmers and foragers, who bring most of their products in reusable containers, for the food."

Other initiatives on the restaurant side of the business include:

  • Capturing all food waste, which is composted and applied to the vineyards and gardens the next year, recycling the maximum of waste possible, and using all sustainable by-products. 
  • Completing a 360° waste audit of the site, with strategies for solid waste reduction rolling out shortly.
  • Using Eco Chit papers, which are 100% free of all phenols, including BPA and BPS, making them 100% recyclable. One tree or a crop for sea reforestation is planted per box purchased. 
  • Reusing all clean water off the tables for watering plants and fauna. 

The winery has also joined International Wineries for Climate Action, a collaborative working group of environmentally committed wineries taking a science-based approach to reducing carbon emissions across the wine industry.

Fairfield Inn & Suites

Fairfield Inn & Suites

Fairfield Inn & Suites, centrally located along Kelowna’s main throughway, Highway 97, is hard to miss thanks to its bright red outdoor waterslide. The team at the Fairfield is well-versed in hosting business events and the hotel's largest meeting space, which is just over 1,800 square feet, can accommodate banquet groups of up to 100.

In the past five years or so, the hotel has implemented several sustainable initiatives, including:

  • Replacing old-style lighting with new energy-efficient LED lighting.
  • Replacing aging appliances and equipment with higher-efficiency models.
  • Partnering with a new waste and recycling partner to divert less waste to landfills while reducing their carbon footprint by collecting waste on an as-needed basis rather than a set schedule.
  • Partnering with Kelowna Concierge to offer complimentary shuttle services to/from downtown Kelowna, reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

“Sustainability and responsible tourism are integral to the success and longevity of a limited-service hotel in Kelowna,” says General Manager, Daniel Ruel. “They not only benefit the environment and the local community but also contribute to the hotel's financial stability, reputation, and overall guest experience. Embracing these principles is essential for any hotel that wishes to thrive in today's tourism industry.”

Looking ahead, Ruel says that the hotel will look to reduce plastic water bottle consumption by providing more sustainable options for its hotel and conference guests and attendees to stay hydrated. The hotel will also switch to a cold-water laundry program to reduce its natural gas consumption.

“Our owners see the importance and value in investing in sustainability and energy conservation, which makes it easy to present suggestions and solutions,” adds Ruel.

Kelowna Yacht Club

Kelowna Yacht Club

Situated along downtown Kelowna's waterfront sits the Kelowna Yacht Club (KYC), home to Canada's largest freshwater marina; it is eco-certified with Clean Marina BC's highest available rating, recognizing its environmental best practices. 

"We acknowledge the impact our building and marina have on the ecosystem we are part of," says Catering Coordinator, Alicia Rattu. "As part of the Biosphere Commitment Program, we align our goals to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) framework based on the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)." 

In fact, the team at the KYC has created a customized framework for its organization based on the SDGs. Some recent work and initiatives undertaken by KYC include:

  • Using mostly compostable commodities and starting a compost hauling pilot program.
  • Supporting and promoting the Don’t Move a Mussel Campaign.
  • Completing two shore/marina cleanups per year. 
  • Creating two Green Teams and providing environmental training to current and new staff, with task lists in place of eco-actions for each department to follow up on based on their activities. 
  • Quantifying its utility bills with the EcoBase Carbon Software for annual reporting and to determine areas of improvement (in place since 2015). 

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and GreenStep Solutions presented KYC with the 2021 Eco-Efficiency Excellence Award, recognizing its "outstanding participation and implementation of the Eco-Efficiency Program and Energy Assessments."

Regarding its hosting of business events—which can accommodate receptions of up to 350 depending on the time of year—Rattu notes that they have started to "draft a task list with KYC's Banquet team to implement sustainable systems that support eco-actions to minimize environmental impact." They are also considering implementing a sustainability policy for service suppliers and future event holders.

"We are proud of our workforce, teamwork, and the positive impact we try to make daily," says Rattu. 

Quails' Gate Estate Winery

Dinner in the Vineyard at Quails' Gate Estate Winery
Dinner in the vineyard at Quails' Gate Estate Winery, Summer 2023. , 

Open year-round, Quails' Gate Estate Winery has a mix of indoor and outdoor space that can comfortably accommodate groups as small as 14 to as large as 200. The winery's team farms 160 acres of vineyards, dedicated to growing the best grapes possible to craft its award-winning wines. In operation since 1989, Quails' Gate is a leader in the industry, with its team working with sustainability top of mind.

"As a family-owned business that spans three generations and more than a century of farming in the Okanagan Valley, we have a sense of responsibility for the land and the community in which we operate and its future," says Marketing Director, Joanna Schlosser. 

The winery recently achieved certification by Sustainable Winegrowing BC, a program that recognizes and encourages environmentally and socially responsible practices BC's wine industry.

"This recognition complements our 2022 vineyard certification and makes Quails’ Gate the sixth winery in BC to achieve full certification," notes Schlosser. "This certification reflects our commitment to reducing our environmental impact, conserving natural resources, and promoting the well-being of our employees and the surrounding community."

To earn the certification, Quails’ Gate underwent a rigorous third-party audit that assessed its performance in several key areas, including:

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Soil and water management
  • Energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction
  • Waste reduction and recycling
  • Ethical and social responsibility

As part of its commitment to sustainability, Quails' Gate also has a longstanding partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help protect BC's sensitive ecosystems.

"Our support has contributed to the conservation of vital land, forest and habitat throughout BC’s southern interior and beyond to help build a stronger, more sustainable environment for future generations to come," notes Schlosser. 

Wicked Wine Tours

Wicked Wine Tours - Winter at Quails' Gate
Winter wine tour hosted by Nicholas Wilson at Quails' Gate Estate Winery. Photo credit: Shawn Talbot Photography

Since it began operating in 2014, Wicked Wine Tours has grown to become one of Kelowna's most well-recognized and respected wine tour companies. Owner Nicholas Wilson and his team pride themselves on delivering exception tours to corporate and leisure clients, customizing itineraries to meet the group's needs. 

Wilson notes the importance of sustainability and responsible tourism to his business is straightforward, as they operate with "simple respect for our planet, community, and billions of fellow inhabitants [on earth]."

Wicked Wines Tours has obtained Gold Certification through GreenStep Sustainable Tourism, which assesses businesses and destinations on various areas of sustainable tourism operations. Some recent initiatives the company has implemented include an idle-free policy for its fleet of vehicles and eliminating paper (and printers and toner) from its operations. Wilson says he will replace his fleet with electric vans when they become more readily available. 

Discover More

Browse other posts in the #exploreKelowna Blog to learn more about Kelowna's sustainable side or connect with Tourism Kelowna's Business Development team to discuss ways to discuss your future business events.