Living Sky Winery owners Vance Lester and Sue Echlin won the top spot at the national level of the Outstanding Young Farmers program.
“I think the judges saw us as a unique venture. You know the wine industry in Saskatchewan and in the prairies as a whole is really just emerging as a new sector and so we are working hard to get that industry going and I think that was probably a big part of winning,” said Lester.
Lester and Echlin won the regional award, which recognizes excellence in agriculture, in June and went to the national week-long competition in P.E.I. last week. After personal interviews with judges about their business and several presentations, they were awarded one of two winning spots on Nov. 30 at the awards gala. The other winner was a couple of raised sheep from Quebec.
“We are sort of a unique take on agriculture. Part of it is being part growers in Saskatchewan. Especially where we are in Saskatchewan, surrounded by canola fields and barley, and so to have a fruit orchard is fairly innovative and interesting,” said Echlin.
Lester and Echlin say their approach is ‘field to glass’ grow a ten-acre orchard where they produce fruit like cherries, raspberries and rhubarb for their beverages. They produce table and dessert wines that are sold at the Saskatoon and Regina farmers markets and a cider which is sold in 20 resturants across Saskatchewan.
The next national awards gala will be in Regina during the Canadian Western Agribition in Nov. 2013.