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October 27, 2017 7:56 pm

Northern Lights Winery – A Growing Business

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 @ 5:57 AM

Prince George, B.C.- When Northern Lights Estate Winery  officially opened in June of 2015  on the north bank of the Nechako River in Prince George,  there were hopes for success,  but  no one expected the level  of success would be this high  just a year and a half  later.

20161130_102900It’s hard to believe” says Pat Bell, co-owner of the  winery, “I am an optimistic guy, and I didn’t think it would  be this good.”

With product on the shelves in liquor stores from Williams Lake  to Prince George,  Smithers and Valemount   Bell  says  the demand is high  “The product is really being accepted and we need to  continue to grow  that and get the product into  Fort St. John and Dawson Creek,   we are certain we are going to  be accepted there as well.”

But in order to grow the business,  they will have to grow  the  fruit supply.  “One of the big constraints  that we have  is the amount of fruit that we can grow.  The site that  we’re on  today at the winery, is really a demonstration site, and over time, it will be capable of producing about  50 thousand pounds of fruit per year.  Next year,  we are expecting somewhere in the 12 to 15 thousand pound range.  We’ve leased some property up near the  (Prince George) Airport about 7 acres we are going to be expanding into, and  our plan for next year is to plant somewhere between 4 and  7 thousand  additional plants.”

When the winery first  started,  it  planted 2200  plants  and now the plan is to  double  or possibly triple  that.    Bell says the winery has also leased some  property in  Quesnel “And we’re working on  some additional partnerships.  Fruit is a huge constraint for us right now and I think that ( more plantings in the region) is  good news  for agriculture in B.C.”

The winery also  works with the  local  community  having accepting  harvested fruit in support of Northern Bear Awareness,  and  the   Railway and Forestry Museum.

Expansion plans aren’t just about planting more  fruit “We have  submitted some early applications to the City of Prince George and the province of British Columbia for expansion” says  Bell,   “We’ve got, virtually every weekend sold out for 2017 for weddings and special  events.  At this point I think we have one or two weekends that are available for next summer.  That’s going   to require additional parking and additional facilities.  We’ve applied  to the City to expand our washroom facilities to make sure we have  the capacity  internally within the building,  and we’re starting to think about a storage facility because we are unable at this point to keep up with the market demand for wine, and having that  storage facility on site would create more space in the back and allow us to bring more tanks in.”

Eventually,  the  winery may   see a commercial kitchen added to the site,  one that could service all the special events being  booked  for the location.

“What we’ve  discovered in our first, 15 or 17 months of operation  is that the business is way larger than  we originally contemplated” says Bell.  So  we see this as  a winery  that will be  in the top 10% in British Columbia, and by far and away the largest  fruit winery in B.C.”



Very good news. My only concern is the location… with the high volume of traffic along with location of the big parking lot I can see a accident or two involving people leaving after a glass or two to many and making a judgement error.
Hope I am wrong :-)

    Life is a risky proposition P Val, best you stay indoors and away from the micro-wave…..you never know.

good job Pat and Doug.

It’s always nice to see a new local business succeed! I remember some very negative comments being posted here when the winery was originally announced and as it was being developed. Nice to see this business, any business, succeed in spite of the wishes of some for their failure!

Every new business that succeeds is another source of jobs, another source of tax revenue and another driver of our local economy! Wishing them continued growth and success!

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