“The fruit we ferment and distill is locally grown, sun ripened fruit, overproduction or too ripe to ship”, says Anette. The couple has been reducing food wastage since 2005, since this fruit is not sellable to consumers. This idea of reducing food wastage came from their “strong commitment to sustainability, food security and responsibility”, according to Anette.
In 2013, there was a change in the regulation for distilleries, which meant they could now be classified a craft distillery, allowing them to join the “wine route” instead of being located in the industrial area. They opened their new tasting room in Naramata in July 2014.
Maple Leaf Spirits are doing some unique things to improve environmental prosperity within their region. Instead of asking for a tasting fee, the owners collect donations towards environmentally focused non-profit societies, such as the South Okanagan Trail Alliance, the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance and the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls.
The family business also avoids using Round-Up in the vineyard and mow or pull the higher weeds under the vines. They are learning about organic or integrated vineyard management practices.
They protect a large part of their property as natural habitat for birds, bats and other native wildlife, some of which are endangered species in the Okanagan. Guests are invited to bring their birding book to identify soaring eagles, vultures and falcons.
In 2016, they are again hosting an art class as part of the annual Meadowlark Nature Festival on May long weekend.
Maple Leaf Spirits are actively looking for ways in which to reduce operational energy, and have participated in programs like Fortis FLIP and have calculated their carbon footprint. “We are always working to be environmentally friendly, and we found Green Tourism to fit into our scheme,” says Jorg.
The next project Jorg is working on is to make sure all the uncontaminated waste cooling water (which is heated to 85 degrees) doesn’t go down the drain. It is going to be re-routed to heat the couple’s house.
Having recently completed their two-year reassessment, Maple Leaf Spirits has moved from Bronze to Silver Certification.
To watch their “What’s Green About” video, please view it here.