Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Monday, March 28 2022

Okanagan Crush Pad Crushes It, Again

By: Anthony Gismondi
Darryl Brooker named CEO

Breaking News: Seasoned veteran Darryl Brooker returns to the BC wine industry after one-year away.

Brooker dipped his toe in the cannabis pond for 12 months but has decided to return to his passion, wine. It was all pretty serendipitous. Co-owner Christine Coletta had called Brooker for some advice about hiring a CEO, shortly after Brooker had handed in his resignation. Brooker solved Coletta and partner Steve Lornie's dilemma of finding someone to take on their ambitious growth plans before the telephone call was finished. Brooker will become an integral part of the couple's succession plan, and he has the chops to do it all. The former Mission Hill CEO and chief winemaker will oversee the OCP's senior management team, focusing on the winery's facility expansion plans and building out the founders' vision for Garnet Valley Ranch, a 320-acre organic vineyard and farm. 

Additionally, OCP has partnered with Naramata Bench growers, King Family Farms, to purchase grapes to support the winery's future growth. Marjorie and Rod King, have been stalwart Okanagan wine growers for decades, and like Coletta and Lornie, they too were looking to step back from the day-to-day. 

Brooker's expertise will not only help catapult OCP to the next level, but he will also make an essential contribution to the region's profile on the export market by communicating the unique story of Okanagan wines.

Here is the official release: 

March 2022 [SUMMERLAND, BC] Okanagan Crush Pad (OCP) announces the appointment of Darryl Brooker as chief executive officer. Brooker assumes this newly created position to take over roles played by founders Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie. The founders view the appointment of a CEO as a key part of their succession plan, as they turn their attention to the next phase of their company. 

Brooker will lead a dynamic operations team that includes chief winemaker Matt Dumayne, director of viticulture Duncan Billing, and Andrew Raines, director of sales for OCP's sales division HQ Wine + Spirits. Coletta will be part of that team for transitional support. 

"Steve and I had come to a critical point: plan to sell, or develop a dynamic succession plan. It's evident that we chose the latter by bringing Darryl into our wine family," says Coletta. "We are excited to drive forward doing what we love, and with Darryl's help build a stronger wine culture in our business and provide key support for Matt and Duncan, replacing our reliance on outside consultants. I'm confident that I speak on behalf of the entire BC wine industry in welcoming Darryl back. His talent and vast experience is rare in our field," she continues, "and we all felt the loss when he briefly departed to a different industry." 

Brooker is a graduate of the Wine Executive Program at University of California Davis (2018), having previously earned a graduate diploma in wine business management at the University of Adelaide, Australia (2003) and a Bachelor of Applied Science, Wine Science at Charles Sturt University, Australia (2001). Prior to joining OCP, Brooker spent a year working in the cannabis industry.

He also served in various capacities from vice president of winemaking to general manager and then president of a family-owned Kelowna-based winery from July 2015 to March 2021. Darryl has extensive experience in senior roles, also as vice president of winemaking and operations at CedarCreek Estate Winery from May 2010 to July 2015, and as senior winemaker at Andrew Peller Limited from April 2005 to May 2010.

 "I always had in the back of my mind that I would work in the wine industry again," says Brooker. "I didn't feel my story had finished and I know I still have a lot more to give to BC and Canadian wine. It just had to be a winery that I truly believed in the vision and potential," he continues. 

"OCP, Christine, Steve, Matt, and the entire team have impressed me since the beginning. Amazing fruit, unique organic vineyard sites, and a vision to be bold and push the boundaries." 

He notes that these components were a must to pull him back into wine. "The opportunity and challenge of being a part of the next chapter for OCP feels like an amazing fit." 

Steve Lornie and Julian Scholefield, OCP's director of estates, are forming a development team with Brooker to oversee several projects under OCP's newly formed construction division, Fairmile Management Ltd. This takes Lornie back to his construction roots and utilizes Scholefield's post-secondary education in the field of building technology. 

Another key goal for the founders was securing a long-term grape supply to support growth. "We are thrilled to have partnered with Rod, Don, and Ian King, who will supply grapes from their Naramata Bench vineyard. The Kings have been family friends for more than two decades and we are excited to form a working relationship with them that can help us flourish long into the future," notes Coletta. "Ian King is the fourth generation to work their family farm, and will work closely with Matt and Duncan to build a dynamic wine portfolio for OCP."

Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For over 30 years, he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. The twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through Postmedia Network to millions of readers. In addition, Anthony co-hosts the BC Food & Wine Radio Show, broadcast in 18 markets across B.C. and available as a podcast on Spotify, Apple and iHeart Radio and more. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million users a month from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource of full tasting notes and intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers.