Painting a picture of Canadian wine worldwide
“If the Okanagan Valley produced the best fruit in the world, why can’t it produce the best premium wine grapes?”
As a wine lover, it was a question that John Skinner needed an answer to. So, in 2004, he bought a vineyard and by 2007, he founded his luxurious wine brand, Painted Rock Estate Winery.
With confidence in the property, Painted Rock Estate won two Lieutenant Governor Awards right from the first vintage.
After the first year of success, John set out on his real vision: to put Canada on the international map for exquisite wines.
The idea was simple, yet difficult to execute.
“I’ve always had aspirations as a Canadian winery to get Canadian wine on the international stage. The problem is educating the world that Okanagan, British Columbia, and Canada make phenomenal wines. It’s my job to get the word out there.”
Canada: a key component of the Painted Rock brand
After the first harvest in 2007, John spent a lot of time thinking about a relevant name for the winery. In the end, he chose Painted Rock because of the 500 year-old pictographs on the back of his property. Once he chose the name, he instantly chose .CA for his website.
“The wine industry is all about place. With .com, we would be totally lost. I want people to know that we are the flag-waving Canadian wine guys. It’s all about reinforcing the message that we are very specifically .CA and we’re proud of it.”
Attracting attention in the wine industry
In order to create awareness, John puts his wines into competitions like InterVin. Having worked in the industry since 2007, he knows that it’s all about the third party reviews from wine critics and attracting attention from the media.
“I’m all about earned media, not bought media.” John says. “I try to put my wines in things where we’ll win, or we’ll go to a place where we’ll get attention. I’m going to markets where the wine reputation is made and that’s in France, Germany, England, and the US. I want to convince the most knowledgeable people about our wines.”
John Skinner in the Painted Rock Estate Winery vineyard in Penticton, B.C.
“If you see an ad in a newspaper for a bottle of wine, to me, it’s a negative. I want it to be a news story.”
Their website (paintedrock.ca) showcases the beautiful vineyard located just along Skaha Lake in Penticton, BC, and includes information on their wines, upcoming events, awards, and a page specifically devoted to their wine club.
The Painted Rock Estate Winery in Penticton, BC.
The website is constantly updated to provide the information that his audience is looking for. “There’s always movement in this industry, whether it’s reviews, aging, or etc. We have people on our website all the time asking multiple questions about our wines.”
Advice for Canadian entrepreneurs
After being asked to share some advice on entrepreneurship, John’s response is quite simple:
Hire people who are talented.
“The one advantage that I have in my industry is that I hired some very talented people. When I started Painted Rock, I hired the best, and it’s been a wonderful experience since.”
Representing Canada on the world stage
After recently winning the InterVin International Winery of the Year Award, John still continues to show the world just how good Canadian wine is.
“We used to be the cousin that no one wanted to talk to and now we’re the cousin that everyone really wants to take credit for” John says about Canadian wines.
“It’s always very important to have some sense of identity and for my winery, to try to get Canadian wine on the international scene, having the .CA domain is absolutely imperative.”
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