Bumper blueberry wine crop heading for export

Frank Shang has got his eyes fully fixed skyward. That’s because the Richmond-based, fruit winery he started two years ago, Fraser Sun Winery, has nowhere to go but upwards.

The first batch of blueberries, grown on a 10-acre patch of farmland right behind his winery in east Richmond, plus another 10 acres belonging to a neighbour, has been bottled and the majority of the 30,000-litre production is on the way to a buyer in China.

Next year, the blueberry crop currently growing in the fields is expected to yield about 100,000 litres of wine. And that also has a buyer already lined up to take nearly all of it.

So, what’s projected for the year after that?

“If I can get enough land to grow the berries, it’s probably going to be much more,” says Shang, adding he has already ordered more fermentation tanks that will boost production significantly after they arrive this fall.

What’s driving the sales?

“It’s good quality wine, and since I control the manufacturing costs really well, we can produce it at a cost that is very competitive,” Shang says, adding the underlying health benefits of the antioxidant-rich blueberries also makes it a prized product in the Chinese marketplace.

Another plus has been the stellar reputation wine produced from Richmond-grown blueberries already has in China, as other local blueberry winemakers have, for many years, been exporting the product.

“It’s really well known in China that blueberries from here are good quality. Richmond has been growing blueberries for many generations, and the land is perfect that we don’t have to use any sprays,” says Shang, who taps into his knowledge as a landscaping operator, his other business, to guide his crop towards fully organic status.

“So, another blueberry wine product grown in Richmond is very popular,” Shang says. “And we are the newest, Richmond winery and that makes us special.”

Apart from pricing, what also sets Fraser Sun Winery apart from the competition is the blending of blueberry types - bluecrop and duke.

“That makes us unique, and people enjoy the taste very much,” Shang says.

For more information about Fraser Sun Winery, call 604-961-7737.

© Richmond News